noun. the process of increasing in size.
“the upward growth of plants”
Personal growth is the ongoing process of understanding and developing oneself in order to achieve one’s fullest potential. Personal development is a vital part in a person’s growth, maturity, success and happiness. It is the foundation of emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual health.
Last year I bought a new house. I hadn’t owned property for a while as I had been renting in London, moving around for different jobs, following several years in Canterbury where I had been quite settled post university. Also I was living in places and areas in London that I could not afford to buy! Part of my relocation, out of London to Oxfordshire, for a promotion, was to buy a house and lay down some roots.
I bought a new build, so the house was completely finished when I got the keys, but the garden was just a patch of mud. As Spring broke, this time last year, I considered what I wanted to do with it. I imagined the sort of garden I wanted to plant and nurture.
The irony of being put on gardening leave, is that I did spend my first few weeks gardening! One of my Dads from the secondary school is a gardener, he came around and extended my patio, turfed my lawn, planted trees and painted my fence. My parents then came up and we did multiple trips to the local gardening centre. I know nothing about plants, so my Mum advised me on what would look good and what would be low maintenance for me to nurture and tend to.
After they left, and before I disappeared on a plane, I spent many days digging holes in my border to plant shrubs and sorting out pots for my patio. Being outside, keeping active and getting me hands dirty helped me emotionally process. Watering my lawn and my plants each night, gave me a routine to a day where my schedule had disappeared. I wasn’t housebound during this time, but I was cocooning myself at home. As a friend describes it – I needed to crawl into my cave – to recuperate, to restore, to come out later stronger.
When I planned my trip to South America for 2 months I was thus more worried about leaving my garden than I was about leaving my house. My cleaner had keys and was going to come around once a week to check on the building. But I needed to find someone to keep the plants alive. I was chatting to one of my primary school teachers, who had a daughter with the same name as me, I asked what her plans post her A Levels were and if she would like a summer job. She accepted and came around to my house each night to water everything for me to keep it all alive. She was delighted with the wad of cash I gave her on my return which paid for her summer holiday so we were both happy.
I came home, feeling lighter and happier, to a thriving garden. My silver birches had grown, my lavender and verbena were in full bloom and my garden was also full of butterflies. I had spent time away, focusing on personal growth, following 18 years of being absorbed by professional growth.
Less than a year on, and I find myself with bountiful time on my hands again. As the sun has come out, I have enjoyed occupying myself in my garden. I have weeded, I have mowed and I have strimmed. I am watering everything each night. It is giving me a daily routine once again.
As buds grow on my plants and my trees, as insects return to the garden, I love throwing my patio doors open each morning and listening to the birds tweeting before the neighbours begin to stir.
My garden is growing, flowering and blossoming under my watchful eye as I nurture each thing I have planted. I am watching the clematis slowly climb up its trellis, finding opportunities to wind itself around the structure.
The conditions for growth are all there – daily sun, regular water, clean air – along with love and attention from me. My garden is healthy. My garden is growing into its full potential.
Alongside the growth of my garden, I am also responding well to the changes in environment and climate we are currently experiencing. Our conditions for human growth are often compromised by our chosen lifestyles or stilted by not being in the right culture to learn and grow. We may have the ingredients for growth in our reach but our hands are often busy with other things.
One of my favourite quotes, from the late, great Maya Angelou is:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.Maya Angelou
I have used the surviving to thriving continuum a lot in blogs, talks and training I have created over the years. I have been coached, and I have coached, to reflect on personal and professional growth. I have considered the culture I need to grow in. I have carefully curated the culture for others to grow in.
So although we are physically in survival mode right now, I am wondering whether it is also an opportunity for us to learn to thrive, an opportunity for us: to reflect on what we need and how we need to grow; to enable us all to fulfil our human potential; and to focus fully on our quality of life.