Did you know that February is “Plant the Seeds of Greatness” month? You may not have heard about it before, but essentially, it promotes the idea of taking proactive steps today to build even better things in your life for tomorrow. We think it’s a wonderful idea and a great area to focus on during February and throughout the entire year.
Much like seeds in the garden, benefits of these actions could appear in the near-term or eventually emerge over the coming months or years. These actions could focus on any part of your life, whether personally, professionally, or financially, or they could help someone else in your life.
Perhaps the word “greatness” feels overwhelming or intimidating to some. But greatness comes in many forms and can appear in all of us. Each of us has the power to do great things or be a conduit for greatness in others.
So, where do we even begin?
We thought we’d share just a few ideas to get you started planting your seeds. We consider this list foundational in that it will help you lay the groundwork for lifelong, healthy growth and development.
1. Exercise a Growth Mindset
When you plant seeds, you expect something to grow from them. Imagine you are the seeds of a beautiful flower, vegetables, or even a tree—given the right conditions, you know you will grow. Everything you do as a plant and everything provided for you externally will determine your level of growth. But you begin with growth being your focus.
Somewhere along our lifetimes, we humans seem to lose our passion or energy for growth. We get tired, we become frustrated, or perhaps we can’t seem to find those resources to help our growth. Then we lose steam and become stagnant. It happens to most of us at some point.
The way to combat this drag on our growth is to completely change how we think and establish a growth mindset instead. What is a growth mindset?
According to Harvard Business Review, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”
Building a growth mindset entails more than just engaging in ongoing learning and professional development. There are underlying behaviors associated with a growth mindset which must be present and exercised to truly fulfill our potential.
According to extensive research by Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck outlined in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, those with a growth mindset have a desire to learn. She elaborates that they have natural tendencies toward embracing challenges, persisting through setbacks, perceiving effort as the path to mastery, learning from open and honest criticism, and finding critical lessons and inspiration in others’ success. As a result, they reach even higher levels of achievement.
2. Seek Purpose
This idea is a more significant challenge for many. Understanding what our purpose is may feel like a daunting task. It can leave us believing we only have one, and what if we get it wrong?
The truth is that we all have many purposes. When you achieve or fulfill one, does that mean it’s game over? No. You simply move forward and build on that one or set an entirely new one.
Perhaps a better choice of words is to understand your why. This simple word is a powerful approach outlined by Simon Sinek in his bestselling book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He shares ideas and a framework for why certain leaders inspire action more than others. The idea is that they clearly articulate why they want you to do what they are asking you to do. It follows up with what they do and then how they do it. Without the why there is chaos and failure.
Purpose and why you do what you do are linked. As you set out to plant new seeds, ask yourself why you want to take specific actions. Why is this important, what will it help you achieve, why is that important to you, and so on. This clarity can drive you forward when you meet challenges or barriers.
3. Invest in Yourself
Part of planting seeds means you have to invest now to reap the rewards later. The investment comes in many forms, including financial and time, to name a few. As we examine areas for growth opportunities, we often find some form of investment that must be given upfront to achieve the gain we want.
Begin by listing areas where you desire to improve, such as new learning and development, professional certifications, health goals, financial goals, or perhaps in our relationships. Investing in courses, equipment, advisors, or even time commitments are essential. Investing in these things means we’re setting a value on ourselves because they help us to achieve our goals.
If there are levels of achievement or improvements we want to pursue, itemizing the essentials that help in that pursuit is a good place to start. The return on those investments is collectable for years to come.
4. Learn New Things
Lifelong learning means we continuously seek out those subjects we know little or nothing about. Our curiosity and thirst for knowledge pushes us to research, read, and consume anything we can to comprehend, and sometimes master, something that piques our interest.
Humans are curious by nature. What we must learn to do is channel that curiosity to open our minds to new things. Along with that growth mindset, we have to let go of fear, be willing to make mistakes, and hopefully learn something new along the way.
With new exposure comes new ideas. This process is where innovation is born.
5. Engage with New and Diverse People
We are only as great as the world we surround ourselves with each day. That world must include diversity—diversity in people, thought, cultures, and beliefs. That variety inserted into our daily lives acts as food or fertilizer for continued growth and improvement.
As you take note of the pursuits you want to explore, ask yourself who, where, and how you can immerse yourself in the diversity of people and ideas. Where can you engage with those who may not think like you, look like you, or share the same goals as you?
All of this is a powerful boost to our evolution as humans. If we can purposely engage and see what others see, hear what they have to say, and learn what they may know that you do not, what a wonderful gift this could be for our seeds to greatness.
6. Make a Plan
Finally, it’s essential to build out a plan of action if you’re going to make this happen. Assuming you’ll just get things done is a great way to fail for sure. Part of the benefit of making a plan is you have it in writing. You can think through all the critical components of planting seeds and continuing to nurture those fledgling initiatives until they become completed achievements.
Having a plan also allows you to hold yourself accountable. When we document goals and how to get there, we are more likely to follow through. It’s tangible. It’s visible. We can continuously remind ourselves of what needs to be done and how to get there. We can also share that plan with others we trust who can help hold us accountable, cheer us on, and pick us back up when we need the support most.
Along with a path to success, insert moments of celebration to acknowledge incremental progress. If we outline our plans into bite-sized chunks with the reward of a small celebration at the end of each step, success is that much more achievable.
Dedicating the time and commitment to bettering ourselves and those around us begins by planting those tiny seeds that grow and blossom into something extraordinary. Building a life-long habit of growth and development leads to new opportunities and a shot at greatness.