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Matthew W.

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Action drives us to push our limits and to grow. What are a couple things that I can take action on today to challenge myself and grow?

More of a philosophy question :)

There are so many quotes about this concept "action":

“Never complain, never explain, just let your actions speak for themselves.” – Benjamin Disraeli
“The Superior man is modest in speech but exceeds in his actions.” – Confucius
“There are no statues built to those who lived lives of mediocrity, and on the tomb of NO heroes will you find the words, he played it safe” – John Romaniello
“Fortune sides with him who dares.” – Virgil
“No man is more unhappy that he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself.” – Seneca

There is something special behind it, and because I lack experience at 19-years-old, I wanted to ask you all what you have done in your life to challenge yourself through action? #business #leadership #philosophy #books #personal-development #growth

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Hi Matthew,

I really like this question. Challenges and adversity can create wonderful opportunities for holistic growth. They make us better problem solvers and hopefully they make us more thoughtful citizens. A lot of people seek the path of least resistance and they miss the beauty and the depth that resistance carves into a person, not to mention the gratitude that comes from overcoming adversity.

I have found one area that really push me and helps me to grow as a person and a leader and it may shock you. It is through serving others or volunteering that I have been stretched the most. Maybe you have studied a servant leadership model and you are familiar with this concept. Serving others sets an example for those following you or even just watching you. You can give back to your community and you may find that you benefit more than the person or people that you are serving. I have found that humbling myself and serving someone else brings about new appreciation for the things that I take for granted. It changes me and I hope it makes a better situation for the person I'm serving. There are many volunteer opportunities out there, meals on wheels, big brothers, Habitat for Humanity, and so on. You can also think outside the box. Tutoring, coaching little league, or mentoring. I love Create the Good for matching you with volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood that match your interests, http://www.createthegood.org/. I hope you find this helpful. May I ask what activities you've pursued on your own that have stretched you?

Last updated Jul 18 '16 at 11:32

Hi Matthew, it's so great that you're taking this perspective to move forward with your growth. My advice is to get uncomfortable. Leaving your comfort zone is a sure fire way to know that you're doing something different, exercising different muscles (literally and figuratively) and working toward change. This could be taking a course on public speaking or joining organizations such as Toastmaster's to improve your speaking and presentation skills. It may be as simple as changing your commute to work/school. Taking a different route moves you from your routine, which helps you get out of auto-pilot and take in your surroundings, change your perspective and spark new ideas. It could be as involved as learning a new language or traveling to experience new cultures. This type of action will help open your perspective to opportunities that you may pursue with today and tomorrow's global workforce. Another suggestion would be to job shadow in positions of interest to see any opportunities that you have with your professional growth and take on assignments or course work to close that gap.

I'll end with a favorite quote of mine that is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”

Good for you to seek continuous improvement through action!

Last updated Oct 14 '16 at 10:31

Hi Matt, sounds like you are already learning some very important life lessons by serving others. Years from now you will be able to look back and see measureable growth. I have not heard of Montgomery's Kids before but I will definitely check them out. Personally I just started the application process to become a CASA volunteer in order to work with children in the foster care system and while I know it will challenge me on most days I am really looking forward to helping those who are the most vulnerable.

As far as philosophers are concerned it never hurts to read the classics. Oddly enough I majored in philosophy for my undergraduate degree. My program focused primarily on the great texts or the classics. Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Soren Kierkegaard were some of my favorites. One of my professors would often caution us that as young students we should read the great philosophers and not form opinions, we should just hear what they are saying. Recognize that they, as philosophical as they were, still wrote in a particular context, the history of each of their time periods often provides great insight to what they were saying. My favorite classic text to this day is "Fear and Trembling" by Soren Kierkegaard, it is a truly excellent work. For a more "modern" read I do love Dorothy Sayers' essay "The Lost Tools of Learning" and Oz Guinnes' "Fit Bodies, Fat Minds". Actually you can look up his lectures online and you may really enjoy them.

A book I recommended often to the students I advised, they were mainly college juniors and seniors, is Strength Finder 2.0. It's gained a lot of popularity over the last 10 years so you may have already heard of it. The reading portion is about 20 pages describing strength phycology. The gist is that you really can NOT be anything you want to be and instead of focusing on weak areas you should identify and develop your strengths. Each book comes with a unique code that you use to go online and set up a profile and take a strength test. The test is actually very fascinating and personally I really enjoyed taking it. Afterwards you are given your top five strengths, this includes a generally description, a more in-depth personal description delving into what that strength looks like for you, and an action plan. In the years following taking this test I can not tell you how many times I have used this information to fine-tune my own path, to improve my interviewing skills, and build a very specific resume. I highly recommend this little book. It has been invaluable in my career journey.

Last updated Jul 18 '16 at 11:30

Hi Matthew! I agree with all answers so far: this is a great question to do to yourself.

And I also agree with the point of view that getting out of your comfort zone is probably the best way to do it.


What I did myself was always look for opportunities of unknown challenges but also paid attention to try to fit the challenge with some of my strengths. What I'm saying is: if you go for an unknown activity that you don't have any strength to help you go through it, the challenge may be too complex to be dealt and the difficult level might be to high.


As you probably noticed, self knowledge play a big role here... So: know your strengths, look for activities/roles that can be uncomfortable to you and you keep rely on some of your strengths to pass through it. All the success to you!

Last updated Mar 21 at 09:12
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