Growth and the Importance of Development


4 min

The Importance of development

Pushing yourself to go further.

Nothing sums up the importance of growth more than the sentence of the American thinker Oliver Wendell Williams “A mind once touched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions”.

We have come to associate human growth in the business world and elsewhere as learning new things, gathering qualifications, taking vocational courses or moving into new careers. All of these things I agree to help expand the mind and support the idea of “fulfilment”.

Do we rarely extend the definition to the “ understanding of the mind” and the intricacies of thinking? What I wonder might be the benefits that would follow if we did?

At Shinesmith Academy, we focus on the latter because working with clients; we have seen the potential it brings. This applies to all who are willing to open their minds to thinking in a different way.

Looking at one of the world’s current challenges, equality, we have the ability to think with one part of the mind that “all men and women are equal”. We may even be able to argue that is the case, but in particular situations, even the most ardent supporter of that principle may behave in such a way that they fail to meet that standard.

This is often true. An inherent contradiction between the higher principle we all say we understand and the way we can behave. In a recent presentation, I used a slide with two children of different `’races” who were sitting together conformably and oblivious to the existence of a term we blindly acknowledge as essential to almost any official form we fill out.

The children were clearly at the point in their development, where the race had not assumed the meaning that tends to manifest later in their lives. This in itself is an interesting point and suggests that not all we learn is perhaps helpful. Why therefore do we have to learn it? The difference seems only to matter when we make it matter.

If it is clear that there is a point in the life of a child, that race is of no significance. The converse must be that there is a point where it is introduced as an idea of significance.

In our cognitive approach to coaching, one of the things we spend a lot of time doing is helping people “unlearn”. I have seen many concepts that cause issues for people who seem to be of no benefit. Self-worth, for instance, is another idea which leads to more problems than people care to realise. These are all concepts which we come to believe as if they were a universal truth.

Things can remain as concepts. Or we can choose to give them validity by agreeing they have meaning. If that sounds complex, it is only because most of us are unfamiliar with operating within the realm, mostly subconscious, of what we have come to believe. When you can, you quickly begin to realise that many concepts we accept as facts are far from that.

Plato presented his “Theory of Forms” an insight into the fragility of both “belief and opinion”. In theory, they were the lowest forms. A far distance from higher forms which he stated were corroborated using “formula and mathematics”. Similarly, the Police Service pride themselves on gathering corroborated evidence. Intelligence is graded according to quality and rarely accepted as absolute truth, a test which could equally apply to belief and opinion. In this way, by spending time corroborating your worth, it may well pass the subjective test but not ever the objective evidential test.

The best way to explain this strange phenomenon is by imagining that we all were able to regress to a point before we were born before we had the opportunity to learn any rules. At the point, the only laws that would exist would be gravity and laws governing energy, or the speed of light. Universal laws that we would be unable to influence.

We might refer to those as objective truths. We don’t create them, and we don’t influence them.

It is only sometime after we are born that we begin to learn concepts that are subjective truths. Subjective truths only have the validity that we, as human beings, give them. No planet is better than another in reality. A human being in their reality can, however, make it so. In the same way,
“All men, all women are equal”. A human being has the ability to make some more equal than others, only because we can be the authors of the criteria that we then come to believe.

Human beings create problems when they are unable to differentiate between objective and subjective truth. They also do not understand that we can believe them to be one and the same. This thinking error has nothing to do with intelligence. It forms the very nature of the way we think.

Subjective truths fly through the opinion test but are never subject to anything as rigorous as the tests we apply to universal law. They tend to crumble when they do because we find they do not make sense.

Belief and its effects on perception and association with truth are rarely studied and therefore poorly understood. Otherwise, man and humanity would be moving to their best version.

Beliefs are at the centre of the problems we create. While the mechanics of them remain a mystery, that situation will continue. Fortunately, Plato is having his renaissance, and there is progress.

It is for this reason that in Shinesmith Academy, we extend our definition of personal growth to include a deeper understanding of the human perspective, how it is formed and how it is affected by beliefs.

It is only by doing this that we can truly overcome our limitations, unlock our vulnerability to adverse influence and redefine our understanding of the potential.