Recently I’ve been quite moved to witness how much appetite people have for personal growth. People are keen to be more effective at what they do, to be more whole and inspiring as leaders or colleagues. They want to be more aware and clear as humans. If you’re like me, you enjoy that trait so much that you ask, “What can I do to deepen that for the people in my life?” Below are two principles that answer that question.

Learning How to Talk in the Negative

You want people to get the most out of what isn’t working for them. Create a safe space for individuals to admit their pain, fear and disappointment. Safe in this case means judgment-free. I often joke with my clients that, “You are going to find it very hard to persuade me there is something wrong with you!” Every piece of suffering, anger, or worthless feeling is heard as an opportunity; an indication of what is great about this person. 

Safe also means useful. When they need to get something negative off their chest, people often think they are being a nuisance or wasting time. There is no such thing as a wasted feeling. Painful feelings in particular are pure fuel for a person’s appetite for growth. By its very nature, pain moves you toward doing something different. Whether as a friend, leader or coach, we value that impetus to grow.  

Not only do we want people to admit their pain to us, we want them to get good at listening to how they are creating pain for others. Is there a better fuel for your personal growth than hearing how you are impacting someone in a way they find painful? Listen with no defense. No need to make it better. Just receiving the negative impact as it is. Demonstrate your willingness to use it all to increase awareness.  

A Vision that Motivates

The second principle revolves around painting a vivid picture of what is possible. People are evolving. We languish when we cannot see where we are headed. 

Paint a picture that allows them to see who they are becoming. Describe for them the unique expression you see emerging in them. Show those around you how they are strong, confident, connected or aware. Describe it as a happening, rather than a hope. “This moment marks how a new confidence (or whatever) is coming forward now in you.”    

Guiding them to sense the profound joy that accompanies personal development further deepens their commitment to the journey ahead.

My goal is to encourage people to develop these two skills. Make it safe for those around you to share what is inhibiting them. Transmit to them what it feels like to grow in those ways. 

Fostering a hunger for self emergence is 90% of what coaching and leadership entail. Once this inner drive is activated, most individuals will naturally propel themselves forward.

I look forward to hearing how these two principles work for you and the people around you.

David Lesser