Personal development = The work of continual improvement of oneself
I heard Michael Hyatt use the term “practice not-quitting” in the context of personal development and it resonated with me. It reminded me of Paul’s declaration in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
Practicing Not-quitting Is Key
What does it mean to you, to not quit, or as Paul declared, to fight a good fight and to finish your course? Think about this in the context of your own life, your personal growth and development. What are you good at? What do you struggle with? Do you quit when things get difficult or do you push through it?
We all remember Rocky Balboa and his never-quit determination even when he was getting his head beat-in by Apollo Creed or Mr. T. Smart or not, it was his grit and grind that inspired the world. I remember watching the movie as a kid, and being so inspired that I lifted a 75 pound football tackling dummy over my head during the song “Eye of the Tiger.” Rocky brings back a lot of memories. It was one of the first times that I reflected on my own personal development.
So, why does personal development hurt so much?
We live in a world of convenience, of “gotta have it nows.” If something doesn’t happen right away, we get frustrated. If our food at a restaurant takes longer to be served than we want, we complain of poor service. I saw a sign once in a drive-thru that said “Thank you for being patient. We make your food fresh from scratch.” We have fast-drying glue, quick-wash cycles, microwave ovens, abridged audio books, cliff notes, and the list goes on. We want what we want immediately and have no tolerance when we don’t get it.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of these things. I appreciate them as much as anyone. But, they highlight our culture of impatience and ingratitude. We’ve been trained to quit when something doesn’t go our way. We’ve lost the ability to patiently work toward and create our own culture or ecosystem of self help that drives our personal development. We believe that our lives should be problem-free. I don’t know about you, but my life has never been problem-free. I have to grit and grind my way.
How my personal development and confidence increased by practicing not-quitting
Three years ago I made a two-year volunteering commitment for my Church, every Saturday from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm. It was the highlight of my week. I absolutely loved it. My personal development (growth) was awesome. However, about 10 months into my 2-year commitment, I felt weighed down because of family needs at home. I felt like I was shirking my responsibility as a husband and father. Maybe my family’s own personal development was being sacrificed at the expense of my own. I considered asking to be released from this commitment. What was the right decision? My mind went back to a time many years ago when I abandoned a commitment. I’ve never forgotten that decision and wish I would have chosen differently. But, we can never take back our decisions. This time, I counseled with my wife, I prayed, and I thought a lot about it. What was the right decision? Well, I decided that I needed to keep my commitment and God would bless me and my family for not quitting. Not-quitting was exactly what I needed.
So, that’s what I did. My family didn’t fall apart during those two years. In fact, they were blessed in many ways. Maybe most importantly, my personal development grew even though I had every justification in the world’s eye and even in my own. I learned that there’s a time and a season for everything. We need to be mindful of this and allow natural cycles to process. We need to never rush the natural process of personal development and growth. It can be painful, but it’s always worth the price we pay.
What “not-quitting” do you need to practice? Is it…
- keeping your goal to lose a few pounds, to eat better, or maybe going to bed a little earlier each night?
- not giving up on a difficult child that you may be tired of parenting because of their continued disobedience?
- finishing your college degree that you started but never finished?
- keeping your faith, as Paul stated, even during challenging circumstances you may not understand (like the death of a loved one)?
- starting the business you’ve thought about for years?
Quitting isn’t always so obvious. Quitting can be as simple as disconnecting mentally from a situation because you don’t want to deal with it. You give up and take a back seat because it’s the easiest thing to do. Has that ever happened to you? Be honest…
In my experience, rarely is the best thing the easiest thing. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Make a commitment to yourself to consciously focus on your personal development every day. Look within yourself. You have the power to direct your life. Stay the course and do what is most important, even if it’s the most difficult. Practice not-quitting when life gets tough. The light is just around the corner.