10 Qualities Needed for Personal Growth


In 2012, I decided to pursue a second master’s degree.  I was teaching at a top university at the time that offered tuition benefits, and I love to learn, so it just made sense to me.

Unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to the director of the program I was teaching with.  She did not encourage us to grow. In fact, when I was intentionally trying to grow and learn and become more, I was actually discouraged – directly discouraged – from taking those courses.  This in part led to my decision to leave that department and to find a job teaching elsewhere.

I wanted to grow, but my environment had put a cap on how much I could grow.


Create a Growth Environment

Human beings are designed for growth – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. We are at our best when we are becoming more than we have been.

Whether you’re in a position of leadership or not, it’s important to encourage the people around you to grow.  If you’re one of the many people who do not have a formal a leadership position, you might consider what can you do to help the people around you grow, what can you do to create an environment where it is safe to learn new things. For example, with every class that I teach, I aim to create a learning community, to create an atmosphere where there’s a combination of respect and safety so that my students can try new things and can ask the questions they might not feel comfortable asking otherwise.

One of John Maxwell’s “Fifteen Laws of Growth” says that you have to be in an environment that encourages you to grow. In his book Leadership Gold, in the chapter titled Keep Learning to Keep Leading, he describes the key characteristics a growth environment.

  1. Others are ahead of you.With my students, in the very beginning of the semester, I like to emphasize that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some students are strong in some skills and weak in others, while others are strong in different skills and weak in others. And together, we can help each other. But if others are ahead of you in one area, then you’re challenged to catch up.
  2. You are continually challenged. It has been my observation that people are capable of much more than they think they are.  I sometimes tell my students that I see my job as pushing them to do the things they don’t push themselves to do.
  3. Your focus is forward. I am naturally future oriented, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m growth oriented as well.  When you’re thinking about the future, you’re inspired to reach for what’s next.
  4. The atmosphere is affirming.I try to find a balance between applauding effort and praising good performance. Even when the performance is not to its fullest potential, I try to point out, first, the areas where the performance was good, and second, some real practical steps where that performance can be improved. It’s the real practical steps that make criticism an encouragement.
  5. You’re often outside of your comfort zone. I wrote about this a little in my last blog article The Three Zones of Learning.  John Maxwell talks about the Challenge Zone, the Comfort Zone, and the Coasting Zone. If you spend too long in your comfort zone, you could slide back into the coasting zone, and no growth happens there!
  6. You wake up excited. When you are working towards a specific goal, you are naturally motivated to work towards it. I have found that growth is exciting!
  7. Failure is not your enemy.Looking back at the teaching department where I left because growth was not encouraged, failure was definitely considered the enemy. Mistakes I had made two, three, four years earlier had never been forgotten even though I had chosen to learn from those mistakes and move forward. For me, this is really an important characteristic. Failure is not the enemy.
  8. Others are growing. One of the best things about my job now is that I am working with students and colleagues who are working to improve their lives and learn new skills.  It is very inspiring to be around people who are just as interested in personal and professional growth as I am.
  9. People desire change.  It seems to me that the desire to change can come from two different sources – a sense of lack and a pursuit of excellence.  I have experienced both.  When I’m trying to do something new and come upon an area I don’t know well, I am motivated to learn and grow in that area.  However, even in areas I do well, I am often not content and look for ways to become even better in that area.
  10. Growth is modeled and expected. I think this reflects back to failure not being the enemy.  Are the leaders of the group engaged in learning and becoming more than they are?  Are group members coached through challenges and encouraged to achieve more?  Or is the status quo rewarded?

If you have these characteristics, you know you’re in an environment that encourages growth where you can learn and continue to become the person who can reach your potential, that you’re not going to leave untapped potential on the table.


Take It Deeper

Which of these characteristics are present in your life today? Which ones are missing?

If you would like to enter into a growth environment, I offer an ongoing live online course on personal and professional development:  Professional Development Essentials.  In this course, you will join with others who are also looking for a growth environment.  We meet every Monday night for a short lesson and discussion.  You can check out the website or contact me for more information: http://troycommunications.net/professional-development-essentials/.

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Are you accidentally growing?


A number of years ago, I switched from floating through life to intentionally pursuing a fresh vision for my life and career.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

At the time, I had been working in my field of ESL (English as a Second Language) for a few years, and I had even achieved my primary career goal.  It was a season of becoming established in the place I found myself, but I didn’t have a vision for what might be next.

It was a gradual process, but through my love of learning, eventually I developed a new vision for my life and career, and it continues to evolve.

Previously, I wrote about the eight growth gaps that John Maxwell describes in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, eight limiting beliefs that prevent us from pursuing a path that enables us to grow to our full potential.  I know I’ve fallen into some of them, and I still struggle a bit with one or two.  Others I don’t struggle with myself, but I talk to many people who do.

Here are the top 5:

1.  The Knowledge Gap (I don’t know how to grow) leads people to depend on their raw talent to accomplish their goals.  I think this prevented me from moving forward for a long time.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go next, so I didn’t know in what areas I needed to grow.

2.  The Inspiration Gap (I don’t feel like growing) leads people to talk big about their hopes, plans, and dreams yet never take action.  I have to be careful about this one.  I often come up with “brilliant ideas” that I don’t follow through on.  There are many reasons for this, but basically, I have “shiny object syndrome” – I get excited by new things and don’t always follow through to completion.

3. The Expectation Gap (I thought it would easier than this) leads people to depend on good luck and to quit when things get difficult.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this is the gap I struggle with the most today.  I am learning to expect difficulties and not be thrown off balance when the unexpected happens.  I am developing my ability to stick with a project and see it through to completion, no matter what obstacles I encounter.

4 The Timing Gap (It’s not the right time to grow) leads people to put off until tomorrow what can be done today.   This isn’t a personal struggle but I talk to a lot of people who choose to spend their time in other areas and not prioritize personal growth.  The bottom line is we will make time for the things that are truly important to us.

5. The Perfection Gap (I have to find the best way before I start) leads people to play it safe and avoid risk.  I have come to realize that, even though I am a “recovering perfectionist,” this is not a gap I fall into.  However, most people avoid moving out of their comfort zone for fear of failing at something.  I have found that you only fail when you give up.

Do you find yourself struggling with any of these “gaps”?  In what areas do you need to grow?  What do you need to do to move from accidental to intentional growth?


I highly recommend reading The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell; it will get you started on the road to intentional growth and reaching your full potential!

If you are ready to take your intentions to the next level, I invite you to join  for an online seminar on book study on John Maxwell’s Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters.  For  details, dates, and a link to register, click here.

8 Limiting Beliefs that Prevent Us from Pursuing Our Purpose


By Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Have you ever found yourself engaged in self-sabotage?  I have, recently in fact.

Paul talks about this in Romans 7 – “The good I will to do I do not do, and the evil I don’t want to do is what I do!”

This is evidence of what some call “limiting beliefs” – faulty beliefs that prevent us from living the life God intends for us.  Do we really believe God is good and loves us immeasurably?  That following God’s laws is the best way to live?  The truth is we will never outperform our true beliefs.

This past year, 2015, was a challenging year for me.  At this time last year, I identified eight goals for the year, and I stepped out to achieve greater things than I ever had before.  I did not truly accomplish any of my goals, and it might seem like the past year was a failure.  I discovered limiting beliefs I didn’t know I had!

However, it has been an incredible year of learning – about myself, about the process of building a business, about the value of my message and my skills, and about goal-setting.  I identified the limiting beliefs, addressed them, replaced them with God’s truth, and moved forward.

I find myself now, at the beginning of 2016, in a position to move forward towards my goals more confidently and effectively than ever before.

In his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell describes eight “growth gaps.”  As I describe each one, think about your own attitudes towards pursuing your dreams and living a life of significance.

Are you holding on to any of these limiting beliefs?

The Assumption Gap – I will automatically grow

  • As children we can’t help but grow and learn, but once we leave school, growth and learning is up to us.

The Knowledge Gap – I don’t know how to grow

  • Everyone starts somewhere; recognize what you don’t know and look for the information you need

The Timing Gap – It’s not the right time to grow

  • There will never be a “good time” to invest in yourself

The Mistake Gap – I am afraid of making mistakes

  • You will make mistakes if you are learning and growing; experiment to find methods appropriate for you

The Perfection Gap – I have to find the best way before I start

  • There is no one perfect way, only several possible ways; experiment to find the best way for you.  People say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well” but I believe anything worth doing is worth doing.

The Inspiration Gap – I don’t feel like growing

  • Growth is uncomfortable; it’s easier to sit on sofa and watch tv!  I believe it is Tony Robbins who said, “You will change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

The Comparison Gap – Others are better than I

  • No two journeys are ever the same; embrace your unique gifts, talents, skills, and experience

The Expectation Gap – I thought it would easier than this

  • Anything worth accomplishing will require work and sacrifice.


My Journey

This last gap is the one I am currently working through.  I always thought that if God was leading me to do something, it would run smoothly.  Unfortunately, in 2015 I did not find that to be the case!

John Maxwell gives a formula in his book that I feel I lived out in 2015:  Preparation + Attitude + Opportunity + Action = Luck

Preparation: I didn’t know what I didn’t know; it was a year of learning and preparation for this year.

Attitude: It would have been easy to give up, and I did several times!  However, I didn’t stay down, and I’ve learned to recover from disappointment more and more quickly.

Opportunity:  Seek opportunities; Dale Carnegie said, “The man who grasps an opportunity as it is paraded before him, nine times out of ten makes a success, but the man who makes his own opportunities is, barring an accident, a sure-fire success.”

Action:  Be proactive, try different things, meet new people, and see what you can discover.


Take It Deeper

Which of these “growth gaps” have you bought into?  

If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions on Fridays.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net