Companies benefit from having well-developed, growing, open-minded leaders. Your children (members of a different kind of company) should also benefit from having leaders who pursue personal development, understanding and growth.
Taking time for personal growth might seem selfish, but it’s not. Many self-improvement practices like keeping a journal, meditating, practicing optimism and reading come with a long list of mental, emotional and physical benefits. And when you put time and effort into becoming a better person, your children reap the rewards.
1. Give your child a better primary influence.
A parent’s influence is the first and arguably the most influential relationship in any child’s life. On a daily basis, parents influence how their children interact socially and what habits, views and preferences they form. In the long-term, they influence everything from religious beliefs to physical development, from emotional well-being to hygiene habits to anxiety levels.
No pressure, huh? Of course, as a parent, you know you don’t have it all figured out. You do the best you can.
Pursuing personal growth can help you do better.
You can’t choose whether you will influence your child. You will. That’s a given. You can choose, however, whether you’ll be static, stuck at one level of ability, or whether you will continually seek to grow into a better person who can be a more positive influence.
2. Gain tools you can share with your child.
When did your interest in personal growth begin?
Maybe it came from a time of grief or helplessness. Perhaps you started seeking personal growth to overcome a specific issue in your life; along the way you’ve gained tools and techniques to help you deal with that issue.
Every tool, every piece of wisdom, every helpful technique or healthy method you gain is one you can share with your child. When your child loses a beloved pet, you’re better equipped with tools and language to help your child cope. When your child faces a bully at school, you can coach with ways to set limits and express anger in a healthy and respectful way.
You’re trying to figure out adult life, and, as you do, you are learning how to help your kids navigate the unavoidable turbulence of childhood.
3. Teach your child to value self and ongoing growth.
Childhood is full of arbitrary measurements and endpoints. They aren’t universal standards; they’re simply invented measures that we put in place so we can compare and figure out if our kids are developing the way they should.
But every child is unique and has his or her own pace of development in a thousand different areas. But all these standards, tests, check-ins and milestones can cause our kids to feel that they’re not good enough. It can foster a sense that the self isn’t valuable enough unless it meets some social measure. And it can create the idea that particular points in life are the “endpoint” of growth and development.
We don’t teach these lessons on purpose, but children receive these messages even when we don’t agree with them.
Your personal growth, however, teaches a different message. When you value yourself, flaws and all, by putting time and effort into personal growth, you teach your children to do the same: to value themselves as people, actively, by giving time and energy to who they already are. Your children see that growth and learning are ongoing, a continual part of life, not a certain point to reach and then leave behind.
Both lessons—to value self, and to continually seek to improve oneself—counteract the disheartening messages about living up to arbitrary standards or viewing invented checkpoints for some sort of endpoint to growth, curiosity and learning.
How do you pursue personal growth? If you’ve viewed it as a selfish endeavor, one that takes you away from your child, think again. An active pursuit of personal growth can help you live a healthier, happier life, and those benefits improve the life your child has, too. That’s the best kind of leader you can be.