The first step in anything in life is to be aware of our need. Once we recognize it, we can then decide if we want to do something about meeting that need.
I became aware of my need for growth in the early 1980’s. I had just completed my high school education and jumped into my first full-time job, following the path that so many of my loved ones had taken before me.
Not long into the job, it became very real to me that I needed to grow. I did not understand it then, but I do now: I wanted to live The Law of the Rubber Band. In John Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John says:
“Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.”
I realized that, if I stayed where I was, if I did not take the risk of investing in my growth, I would not achieve the dreams that I had deep inside of me. I knew there was a different path for me. This desire for growth challenged me to take the road less traveled. Where did that road take me? How did I grow?
After graduating from high school, I started working for a not-for-profit environmental protection and conservation organization that operated throughout the Bahama Islands. This organization was amazing, with so many opportunities to learn! I was the gopher; I would go for this and go for that. I loved it! And all of my co-workers loved me, too.
The purpose of the Bahamas National Trust was to raise awareness of the need for environmental protection to preserve the islands for later generations. This noble cause increased my awareness of my need to grow. I had to take action to move from where I was to where I wanted to be.
Over the next two years, I realized that higher education was the key to my future. It would enable me to move into the future I desired. Going to college and choosing a field to study would be the catalyst for my growth. It was the common thread that all of the people working around me had experienced. I needed to pursue more challenging educational goals if I wanted to grow.
In his book, John cites an astute observation by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav that says:
“If you won’t be better tomorrow than you were today, then what do you need tomorrow for?”
The leaders of our organization knew that they needed to stretch themselves to preserve the environment for subsequent generations. Since they were not-for-profit and needed funds to accomplish their goal, they created a heritage fund that would sustain the operations. They hired an expert in professional fund-raising and raised $3 million over the course of three years.
People gave money to help protect the environment because they wanted to make a positive difference for the future. It was then that I realized that perhaps there were people who would be willing to make a difference for me. Would these same people be willing to help make my future better than today by funding my higher education?
The first step on my journey was to get accepted into college. Mission accomplished! All I needed was the money to get there. Over the next 12 months, I worked the professional fund-raising principles I had learned and raised over $100 thousand. Not only were these funds sufficient to cover the cost of my undergraduate degree, but they would also cover the cost of my graduate degree!
As I reflect on my journey, I know that it was my willingness to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone at that time that made me successful. My life is now one that is centered around living The Law of the Rubber Band. To accomplish a better tomorrow, I know I must do something challenging today.
What are you doing today that will propel you into a better tomorrow?
It is my hope that you are challenged by my story to stretch yourself. To grow yourself. To go forward and achieve your dreams. Your better tomorrow starts today!