Hello Leader,

Here is a question that was posted on our blog, a truly $64,000 question-one of the biggest questions of all times: How does one grow oneself? In this KEY we explore the four ways you can grow. It is tempting to write a book about it, the KEY is a good place to begin.

As always, your comments are welcome. Please forward this KEY to friends, family and associates.


Aviv Shahar

Four Ways To Grow

People have sought out development and growth from the beginning of time. Schools, colleges and special think tanks were developed to provide development. Here are four basic ways you can grow and develop:

  • Immersion
  • Apprenticeship
  • A project, crisis or vision
  • A chosen pilgrimage journey

1. Grow through immersion. You get immersed in the environment that contains the knowhow you are seeking. You go where the knowledge and mastership of the field you aspire to develop resides. In the old world this meant you went to Vienna for music, to Florence for painting and to a mystery school in the East for enlightenment. In more recent times, you might choose to go to Nashville for country music; to Silicon Valley to be an entrepreneur; to Google if you want to write code; to HP labs to learn about R&D; to Wall Street for money management; to Hollywood for acting; to the Marines for character development; to Hawaii for surfing and to an ashram in India to meditate.

In the immersion approach you surroundyourself with people who are pursuing similar goals and skills. You l et them and the environment they operate in teach you. Immersion is also how you grow inside an organization. You seek to be close to the people who have mastered the expertise you hope to develop, and you catch the way of it from them. And yes, of course, Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Julliard are each a preparatory immersion, too. They are templates of immersion and they reinforce the skills and mastery they teach.

My growing through immersion experience was in the Air Force. It was a 24/7 immersion. I breathed flying; I ate flying; I practiced flying every minute of the day. When I went to sleep, I dreamed about flying.

2. Grow through apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is similar to immersion, but it is more specific and focused on a master. In the old world you could hope to work for Rembrandt or Michelangelo and learn their secrets and mastership. Today you would seek out Zukerman for a master-class on the violin; or you would enter the Mayo clinic to find the best medical experts in the field you are pursuing and apply to work for them; you would seek to play basketball for Phil Jackson, and you would ask Meryl Streep what you could do for her, so that you might be around to observe how she prepares and performs as an actor.

You might pursue Spielberg to learn about directing and Henry Kissinger or Richard Holbrooke to learn about diplomacy. Not all masters of their field qualify as great mentors, but many do. You target the field you seek to develop and its champions and heroes; then you find the master who acts as a mentor for you. Similar to immersion, apprenticeship is growth and development by transference. Apprenticeship is learning and growing by observation and emulation of a master. Mentoring is when the master stops what you are observing them do and explains to you how they are doing it. You seek out Thomas Friedman and Fareed Zakaria to learn how to write commentary on world affairs; Warren Buffet to learn about value investing and Jim Sinclair to learn how to trade gold. You find Lee Iacocca to know more about the second act of a leader and you work for Jon Stewart to learn about comedy. You work on the Obama campaign to learn how to mobilize young people and you glue yourself to Rick Warren to learn about developing a mega church.

There are masters who have learned from their master and there are those who used the next two ways listed below. The story of each and how they arrived on their own path can influence how effective they will be as a mentor. Working and learning with a mentor can save you many years, perhaps even a life time. The risk is losing yourself in the process. Apprenticeship with a master can be a thrilling and challenging journey.

3. Grow through your project, a crisis or a vision. The third way to grow is to take on a project that is bigger than your current capabilities. You commit to deliver something you have never done before. You take on a new role with a scope of responsibilities and challenges greater than you ever encountered before. Robert Perry developed himself by going to the North Pole. Shackleton did the same by going to the Antarctic. Inventing and building the first airplane is how the Wright Brothers grew. Bill Gates developed himself by deciding to put a PC in every home. He is now re-inventing and developing himself through his foundation. Apple may have been developed by Steve Jobs but Steve Jobs was also developed by Apple.

To grow through your vision, the task has to be bigger than you. You serve a greater cause and it causes you to cross over into the unknown, where you have no choice but to handle the new requirements you are facing. Your vision or your project has to be big enough to resist you and to force you to grow. It is growth by siphoning, by the Law of Resonance and by the Law of Becoming. Richard Branson decided to start Virgin Atlantic after a market research comprised of only one phone call: The line to British Air was busy. Phelps decided to go for eight gold medals because it had never been done before. The task shaped his preparation and development. The liberation of South Africa developed Nelson Mandela. Barrack Obama decided he was going to be the 44th President. He was lucky to have Hillary Clinton to run against. She helped him grow. The crisis he inherited is forcing him to grow in ways he could not have imagined. Growing through vision and through crisis is about stepping into the unknown.

My own experience is that the fastest developments I have made were when I moved out of my comfort zone and into the unknown and the risk of new territory. Coming to America; taking on projects I had never done before and having to discover, innovate and create the solutions for them on the run. Growing by stepping into the unknown, by acting on your vision is the greatest thrill in the world.

4. Grow through your pilgrimage and practice. This is the more abstract path. The path of the mystic. The monastic road. In this you are not developing for any external end or outer result. It is not about fame, not about power, not about money and not about any other worldly success or endpoint. This is development for development sake. It is the path of developing yourself to be the most enlightened person you can be, because that, in itself, is a worthy cause and endeavor. To be the best vessel you can be because you are called to discover this path as the purpose of your life. You renounce external validation and worldly confirmation as a catalyst or as a reason. This is a lonely, sometimes reclusive path of development. It has taken people both in the East and the West into monastic retreat or into an interior journey unknown or often unrecognized by the people around them. Throughout the ages, a few who travelled this road were recognized and found by the world, because of the extraordinary radiance they developed. In some cases they then became known teachers, masters, prophets, rabbis, or they founded new religions, not because they sought it out but because destiny found them.

Find Your Growth Path

The best accelerated growth and development may have aspects of all four paths. Whatever is your path, it is critical to balance the external development with the internal growth. The fourth path begins on the inside and may lead you to a life of service in the world. The first, second and third may begin the development on the outside but as you grow in your exterior capabilities, you must find the internal growth to balance and match it.

Many people feel stuck because they are not clear about which way they want to grow. They do not know how to aim themselves effectively. A skilled coach can help you get clear in yourself and take action for growth.

Reflect and Act

Here are a few questions to reflect upon. Please call me if you need further help to explore your next steps.

  1. What situations and times brought up in you the best development and growth?
  2. When did you learn and grow by immersion? In what situations was the help of a mentor most meaningful?
  3. What are your personal development goals for the next three to five years?
  4. What is your development strategy?
  5. Who can you mentor?
  6. What growth opportunities are you looking to find in the current crisis?

Now it’s your turn. Turn the Key. Find your next opportunity for growth. Mentor and coach others into their need for growth. Mentoring others is a great way to grow yourself. Step up to be the greater leader you can be.

© Aviv Shahar

Invitation: The MVP (Most Valuable Player) Game Tele-seminar

Join me in this content rich one hour tele-seminar as we explore The 10 rules of The MVP (Most Valuable Player) Game and discover the champion profile. To lead you must be transformational – learn how to generate value anywhere, anytime.

In this upcoming tele-seminar I will help you focus on transformational practices. You will discover how to:

1. Focus on what matters most

2. Take initiative

3. Create energy and enthusiasm

4. Build on strengths

5. Generate value and much more.

Please forward this to your colleagues so they don’t miss out. We are growing a community of professionals committed to create breakthrough growth. Whether you are facing a challenging situation or having a great ride, you would not want to miss our next seminars and the strategies we will share. I look forward to you joining me on this adventurous and life-affirming journey.

Make continuous learning and development the center of your professional and personal growth. In each of our next seminars I will share with you original content not available elsewhere. These include insights into overcoming the five resistances, the five pathways of success and the pillars of trust, integrity and collaboration. We will explore tools to overcome “the recession of the mind” and share keys into innovation and personal renewal.

Personal Mastery teleconferences are $35 each, but the series of six teleconferences can be purchased for $125. The fee includes the teleconference and an MP3 download within three days after the event. All teleconferences are at 2 PM EST and are one hour long. Instructions are emailed in advance. Join the complete series and a community of leaders eager to become transformational into their lives and environments.

© Aviv Shahar

ASTD Published Our Consultant 3.0 Manifesto

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) published in its Consulting Newsletter the Consultant 3.0 Manifesto by Aviv Shahar.

Click here to listen to the Podcast: The Consultant 3.0 – How to Thrive in Consulting in a Scary, Brave New World.

From the Press Release:
“In Consultant 3.0: How to Thrive in Consulting in a Scary, Brave New World, Aviv, who created and delivered leadership and talent programs to Fortune 500 companies and coach CEOs, demonstrates how he turned a casual conversation with an astronaut at 32,000 feet into workshop firepower and leadership development IP. In this podcast Aviv explores the five dimensions of whole practice growth, or in NASA speak, the five engines of a thriving practice”
“The strategic imperative shifted,” explains Aviv. “When the unthinkable is the norm and the unpredictable is happening daily, the strategy imperative is not in discovering ‘how to respond’ and ‘what to do’. It is in articulating what capabilities are to be developed to meet the requirements of these alternative and uncertain futures.”

© Aviv Shahar

Explore Our Recent Blog Posts

The worse it gets, the greater the opportunity – Polarity Mastership

The Resilience Podcast – Bounce Forward

Your universe curves into new possibilities – Coaching in The Chrysalis Moment

© Aviv Shahar