An interesting lesson came to me today in the form of a fourth grader’s science poster. I was standing in the hallway outside my daughter’s classroom, waiting to have lunch with her.
The assignment this fourth grader produced was aimed at being able to demonstrate the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Pretty normal stuff.
Let’s take a look:
Solids have the ability to keep their shape.
Liquids take the shape of their container.
Gases expand to fill their container.
Yeah, I got that. Let’s take that a step further.
These three states can be assigned to our willingness (mine at least, at various times) to change our attitude, or dominant mental state.
As a solid, you’re set in your ways; maybe you think you know enough and aren’t interested in learning anything new. Maybe you’re a bit disenfranchised. That’s fine, but you won’t grow as a leader without learning.
In your firmness you feel safe, but one little plink against your hard exterior and you’ll crumble. Also, there aren’t many places an uncut stone can be placed where they will be a good fit.
Growing out of this state requires maturity and patience. You must be willing to accept some heat and pressure to become more teachable, and to grow.
Stones can never be made bigger, they can only be cut smaller. Be willing to adapt so you can learn and grow.
Stage one of growing as a leader is recognizing your inflexibility and rigidity.
As a liquid, you’ve become more flexible, ready to adapt to whatever situation you are placed in. You’ve changed your attitude, and are now capable of shaping others as you come into contact with them, just as a stream polishes the pebbles it washes over year after year.
You can begin impacting the world around you much more if you are more flexible and more willing to keep learning and growing.
Stage two of growth for new leaders is continual growth and learning.
Maximizing your growth into your leadership potential comes from having endured through the most intense heat and pressure you are capable of withstanding, and you can now expand and fill the world around you and influence others beyond your direct physical reach. Leaders such as John Maxwell, Darren Hardy, Napoleon Hill are leaders in stage three. They place themselves under heat and pressure automatically. Their stories resonate with listeners and readers far beyond those they come into physical contact with on a daily basis.
Stage three is expanding outside yourself and sharing your knowledge to influence your world.
It’s little wonder that some of the most powerful chemicals in our world are gases.
But for humans, this can also work in reverse. Subtract the heat and pressure and a physical item will return to its solid state. Use it or lose it, the saying goes. Taking too much time off from a project can set you back further than time lost working on it; your mental edge must be fought for and won again.
No matter what you’re aiming for in your life, make sure your vision is crystal clear and revisit it often. As Brian Tracy says, part of achieving your goals is to ‘work on your goals, every single day.’
Where are you in these stages of growth?