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Grow or Decay – Pick One!

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

Ronald E. Osborn, author

Have you ever noticed that nature doesn’t hold still?  Trees are always growing and replenishing their limbs, stretching their branches higher and higher.  They only stop if seriously injured or if they die.  Weeds, never content to stay in one place, spread their runners and seed to every sidewalk crack or otherwise inhospitable spot.  Many times the only way to stop their insidious growth is to pull them up by the roots! 

Some animals never reach a final size but continue to gain in length and weight while they are alive.  If they are not native to the habitat, they can throw the ecosystem into disarray – such as the Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades.  There seem to be very few examples of living things that remain stationary or stable for very long (discounting hibernation and other temporary pauses); either they live and grow, or they decay and die. Grow or Decay – Pick One!

Grow or Decay in Life

Flowers show us growth or decay - they only do one or the other.

Although the human body may reach peak stature when fully matured (discounting continued struggle with our waistlines as we age), there are other dimensions of what makes us humans that must either continually grow or face decline and decay.  At some point in our lives, we reach the apex of our physical strength, however, our minds and skills do not necessarily reach their peak at the same time.  Thus, in adulthood, it is not acceptable to become complacent, seek comfort in sameness, and try to maintain – to actually do that is impossible.  The brain, as noted with other natural living things, will tend to either grow and mentally expand, or decline and mentally shrink.


The question, then, is how to promote this growth in mind and skill?  Ronald Osborn gave us his answer, and he was right on target.  The quote given above was preceded with, “Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you good,” followed by, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”  In this he claimed that growth is found in adversity, that growth is realized through the act of trying something new, and that growth is in the journey; not necessarily in the destination!


We are left to realize that unless we are intentional in seeking out new challenges, in declaring new vision, purpose, and direction for our lives, and in actively pursuing a life beyond where we currently are, we are actually in a state of decay and decline (non-growth).  When should we get started on a path to growth?  Now!  “Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin,” as noted by Victor Kiam. Grow or Decay – Pick One!

Growth challenges 

Grow by reading books
  • Stretch out your limbs, reach to the sky, and undertake a goal of reading one book per month. Focus on non-fiction but don’t discount the value of excellent, classic fiction works. On average, millionaires read at least one non-fiction book per month. Maybe more!

Grow by writing
  • Don’t stay in one place, but rather move into an uncomfortable place by dedicating time each day to writing – your thoughts, your dreams, your history. Learn to capture the moments of your life in a durable way. Tell stories from your life in your communication with others. Use the stories to illustrate, explain, and connect.

Grow by connecting with others in friendships
  • Finally, expand your mental dimensions by engaging and connecting with other people through deep, meaningful conversations to learn about who they are, who they want to be, and how you can add value to their lives.  This way you will shake up the ecosystem (in a positive way) for both of you, leading to more growth!

No matter how far you go on these three challenges, I am certain there will always be a path of growth ahead of you.  You will find deep satisfaction in the journey and avoid decay.

Grow or Decay – Pick One! – today’s ActionLink.  Be sure to look for more Leadership Principles from P H Tyson & Associates.


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