The Key Ingredient For Growth That You’re Missing

How to design it into your life systems

Most personal growth hacks and tips out there are good but they don't always create lasting change.

You get this nice hit of dopamine from the perspective shift. You go and try it out and get a result or two. But the changes don’t stick and you don’t see yourself actually growing. You’re back to square one.

The key ingredient for constant growth that you’re missing is:

Polarity.

How Nature Grows

Want to engineer constant and predictable growth in your life, or in your business?

Study how nature grows. Study the principles that keep nature constantly growing and evolving. Then design those principles into your life.

Nature requires polarity in order to grow.

Specifically these 2 polarities:

  • Safety and Danger

  • Consistency and Variety

Like nature, we only grow when faced with the polarity of adversity, discomfort, change and support, connection, and consistency.

Mountains are formed when parts of the earth collide against one another and then rise to coexist and consistently hold each other in place.

Forests become more biodiverse after periodic destructions of fires and floods, creating the alchemy for new species and life to grow and adapt over time.

People grow through seasons of adversity and challenge, seasons of consistent work, seasons of support and rest, then seasons of harvest. The cycle continues.

Both Safety (or security) and Danger (or risk) are needed for growth.

Too much comfort, we become stagnant and under-challenged. Too much danger and discomfort, we become overwhelmed and immobilized. The polarity of both is needed for growth.

Similarly, both Consistency and Variety is needed for growth.

Too much routine and structure, we become autonomic, uncreative and bored. Too much spontaneity, novelty, and disruption, we struggle to focus and create consistent results.

The polarity of consistency and variety creates the magic of creativity and possibility.

In quantum physics, there are two levels of existence: the level of actuality and the level of possibilities. We manifest quantum leaps and exponential growth at the intersection of both levels. Where consistent effort meets the magic touch of luck, possibility and opportunity.

Like nature self-engineering its growth, we can design polarity into our life to engineer our own growth and evolution.

How We Can Grow

There’s a popular model, by NLP expert Robert Dilts, that outlines 6 Neurological Levels of Change:

  1. Purpose

  2. Identity

  3. Beliefs & Values

  4. Capabilities

  5. Behavior

  6. Environment

The big idea of this model is that creating change on one level is not enough to create lasting behavioral change and results.

Change needs to happen and align on all levels.

You can change your behaviors and thinking but if your environment doesn’t support your new behaviors and ways of thinking… your change is unsustainable.

“Our environment is the invisible hand that shapes behaviour.”

James Clear

You can shift your beliefs, thinking, and actions but if you continue to embody an identity that isn’t aligned with your new beliefs and thinking, you will self-sabotage your way back to old patterns.

So I invite you to reflect on each of the neurological levels and ask yourself if there’s enough polarity for growth to happen.

  • Is my environment designed to feel safe enough but also challenging enough to grow?

  • Is it too safe and comfortable that I’m stagnant and under-challenged?

  • Is it too challenging that I’m overwhelmed, overthinking, immobilized?

  • Is there enough polarity in my schedule, routine, and lifestyle?

  • Do I have too little consistency that I’m not actually creating consistent results?

  • Do I have too much routine and structure that my mind is on autopilot and bored?

Reflect on the levels of change in each area of your life:

  • Personal life

  • Business or career

  • Relationships

  • Health and wellness

  • Wealth

  • Purpose and mission

Rethink and redefine what growth means for you in each area.

Notice what you’re committed to (consciously and unconsciously)

To realize you’re not growing somewhere and to decide not to do anything about it, means you’re unconsciously committed to playing small in that area. That’s not a bad or good thing. It’s not right or wrong. It just is.

The question you get to ask yourself:

Is this commitment (conscious or unconscious) effective and aligned with who I want to be and what I want to create in this world?

“Commitment is a statement of what “is.” You can know what you’re committed to by your results, not by what you say your commitments are. We are all committed. We are all producing results. The result is proof of a commitment”

Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman (Conscious Leadership Group)

Here are some ways to design polarity into your life to optimize growth

7 Ways To Design Polarity for Growth

A philosophy I subscribe to…

If you want to grow, study the people and things that grow. If you want to be successful, study the people and things that succeed. If you want to be happy, study the people who are (actually) happy. Look for the principles and laws driving the things you want and engineer it into your life.

Here are 7 common growth tips and how to engineer polarity to make them even better:

1) “Cut out toxic people”

Proximity matters.

Cut out people who drain your energy or make you feel small, weak, and unmotivated. But don’t just surround yourself with passive supporters either.

Better: find the people in your life who will lovingly challenge you and hold you accountable to your ideal self.

I run men’s groups where we hold a safe space for men to bring their issues and challenges. To heal through brotherhood and community. And… we hold a fierce container of accountability and integrity to challenge each other to grow.

Some things you can do:

  • Find coaches and mentors who will challenge you forward

  • Find support groups for accountability and support

  • Lovingly challenge your friends and request that they challenge you as well

2) “Create an environment that’s regulating for your nervous system”

Your nervous system does not heal on its own.

Take responsibility by being an advocate for your nervous system’s healing and growth. Remove things and people that create toxic stress and make you feel small and weak. Safety and regulation are key.

AND… add healthy stress to areas that need growth.

While comfort is regulating. Too much comfort for too long makes you stagnant. Stretch yourself by engineering more challenge and discomfort.

Some things you can do:

  • Cold exposure

  • Setting bigger goals or missions to work toward

  • Having deeper and harder conversations in your relationships

3) “Create routines and manage your time”

Consistency creates results. Variety adds the magic of possibility.

Create systems to manage your time and energy. Follow your routines rigorously. Build in margin for creative and conscious thinking.

Then allow yourself to disrupt it often to create space for sparks of creativity and possibilities.

I have a daily routine I follow to the dot almost every day.

And some of my best ideas came from: screw it.. I'm going for a long walk in nature today instead.

Some things you can do:

  • Get really good at prioritization (need help with this, check out my Strategic Vision Planner)

  • Time block your week and build systems for productivity

  • Build in space and margin for rest, creativity, play, and social

  • Stick to your routines and system for consistency

  • Be ok with disrupting everything

  • Update your systems each season to follow your energy cycles

4) “Make easy decisions easy to prevent decision fatigue”

I’m a big fan of making easy decisions easier.

  • Make deciding what to wear everyday easier

  • Make deciding what to eat everyday easier

  • Make deciding what you need to everyday easier

Even better: make easy decisions easier and let hard decisions be hard to make.

We usually get this mixed around. We make easy decisions hard to make and we expect hard decisions to be easy. Source of our suffering—ourselves.

Save energy and time by making the easy ones easy. But the hard ones (often the important ones)… let it be hard and buckle in to do some work for growth.

Getting good at making hard decisions requires:

  • Getting good at problem solving

  • Getting good at organizing your thinking

  • Getting good at challenging your perspectives and beliefs

  • Getting good at listening to your intuition

So stop trying to look for shortcuts and the easy way out of hard decisions.

If you didn’t earn it, you’ll won’t truly own it.”

Taylor Welch

Imposter syndrome is more of a worthiness issue than it is an imposter issue.

When you fought to achieve something, you’ll rarely see yourself as an imposter. When you’re fighting to achieve something much bigger than yourself, you’ll have no time to feel like an imposter.

Put in the work where growth lives.

5) “Always be learning”

If you’re not learning, expand your mind: go read.

If you’re already learning, get off the dopamine chase: go write, teach, create.

I learned this one from Dan Koe.

Structure your day to include 3 sets of activities:

  • Filling your mind by learning, reading and socializing

  • Emptying your mind by journaling, planning and meditating

  • Using your mind by creating, problem solving, and getting deep work done

We live in a world with information overload, people are addicted to hoarding information.

Saving social posts we never go back to read. Buying books and courses we don’t finish. Constantly researching and never creating.

It’s safe and comfortable to just keep learning and strategizing without taking any action.

It’s dangerous to face the fear and resistance of creating. But that’s where you grow.

What you can do:

  • Create time blocks for reading and learning

  • Create time blocks for reflecting and planning your week

  • Create time blocks for reflecting and planning your day

  • Create time blocks for focused deep work and creating

  • Create time blocks for conscious thinking and problem solving

Do the work.

6) “Celebrate your wins”

What you appreciate, appreciates.

What you focus on, expands.

Celebrate your wins and progress to keep you focused on what Benjamin Hardy calls the “Gain”.

You have two ways you measure yourself:

  • The Gap - where you measure yourself against an ideal. You’ll always lose because your ideal will keep shifting.

  • The Gain - where you measure yourself against where you started.

Measure and celebrate your gains.

“You see whatever it is you’re measuring.”

Seth Godin

And add polarity by also reflecting on your lessons and losses.

This gets uncomfortable…. but it’s growth!

Winning for too long without "seeing" any losses means you're playing too small of a game.

It’s really only a failure if we fail to draw the lessons and wisdom from it.

What you can do:

  • Keep a journal and before going to bed…

    • Write down your 3 wins from today

    • Write down 3 wins you’ll create tomorrow

    • Write down a lesson you learned today

    • Write down a problem you’re trying to solve and let your subconscious solve it in your sleep

7) “Just be yourself”

I’m a huge advocate for self-acceptance and self-love.

I also believe self-acceptance and the desire to be a better version of you are not dichotomies.

It's not one or the other.

You can love and accept yourself for who you are right now, knowing you are whole and complete.

AND be motivated to become a better and more ideal version of you.

There you have it.

7 ways to design polarity for growth:

  • Cut out toxic people and find loving challengers

  • Cut out toxic stress and create healthy stress

  • Follow your routine rigorously and disrupt it often for magic

  • Make easy decisions easier and let hard ones be hard

  • Always be learning more and creating even more

  • Celebrate your wins and reflect on your lessons

  • Love yourself and aim even higher

Let’s keep growing and winning together!

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Your Pal,

Colin