What Is ‘Growth’ Really All About In Terms Of Learning & Development?


We all understand the term growth when it comes to human anatomy or indeed any ‘living’ organism but what do we really mean by the term ‘growth’ when used in a learning and development context.

The dictionary definition of growth is “The process of developing or maturing physically, mentally or spiritually.” So in our world of management and leadership is growth simply the act of increasing someone’s mental capacity with knowledge?

In another recent blog I talked about the difference between training and learning, with training being something that others plan for you (and therefore often outside your circle of influence), and learning being something that only YOU control. I maintain that learning is personal to each of us and we decide what we want to learn, NOT what other people may necessarily try to teach us! Of course the job of the educator, coach or mentor is to encourage and guide us to learn the right things.

So why is it that some people ‘grow’ more than others? Is it that they have greater aspirations and are more motivated? Or is it just that they learn more?

While I have never been to a rain forest I am fascinated by them and the myriad of plants and creatures that live there. Like many I am also conscious and concerned by the damage that deforestation and global warming is having upon these precious habitats.

I feel this is a great analogy for what I believe personal growth to be from a learning and development perspective. The world of work is often referred to as a ‘jungle’ and I for one believe it is. We all compete for jobs and even when we have jobs we then have to battle to get the resources we need, often at the detriment of others.

Trees in the rain forest are some of the tallest in the world as each species competes for the precious sunlight that they need to create their food and energy. Once the canopy is established so little light makes its way to ground level, it can appear to be like twilight at noon.

I think that just like the trees in the rain forest some people are more genetically engineered for personal growth than others. These are the people that actively seek out knowledge but also have both the imagination and the emotional intelligence to understand what they can ‘do’ with that knowledge.

They gain from every experience and tend not to repeat mistakes. They see failure as an inevitable part of development and therefore it does not sap their energy.

So am I saying we should write off those people that do not have the genetic ‘make up’ I describe? Of course not we just have to accept that for some people the ‘growth’ may take longer and may be much harder to achieve.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Ambro of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Updated on: 9 October, 2013

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