Keys To Personal Growth

So do you want me to tell you the truth, or do you want me to sugarcoat it for you?

This was the question that a mentor of mine asked me a few years ago.  It was blunt.  Direct.  Unfeeling.  Intimidating.  How does one even answer a question like that?

I wanted to say, ‘please be kind.  Encourage me.  Tell me how wonderful that I already am.’  But I knew that wasn’t going to help me grow.  I also know that  was the cowardly way out.  So I said, ‘tell me the truth!’  And then I braced myself for what came next.

What unfolded was both a clear and kind description of an area of weakness in my personal skills as a leader.  When I asked him how to fix it, he provided a very clear and simple assignment for growth.  He also offered to me opportunity to check back after I made some attempts at change, so that he could both affirm and advise me further.

It was a powerful coaching moment in my life.  The result of which was genuine growth and development in my life.  An area of weakness, became a current area of strength for me, just because I was willing to hear the truth.

Ephesians 4:15 teaches us what we need to grow, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

The prescription for growth:  someone to speak truth in love to you.

#1 – Truth without love – is harsh, condemning, difficult to receive and apply.

#2 – Love without truth – is soft, unhelpful, and really not love at all to allow me to stay in the condition I am in without offering the option to change.

But when you combine the two.  It’s powerful, transformative, inspiring, and truly helpful.  Every leader who aspires to grow, needs at least one person in their life who can speak truth in love.  The best kind of feedback comes through real time observation and immediate feedback.  We say, ‘Watch me do this and then tell me the truth in love so I can improve.’

How about you?  Do you have someone in your life to speak the truth to you in love about your life and leadership?  Are you giving others that gift as well?

Kat Kelley