The Third Way: Finding Growth in a World of Quality and Quantity
The Owl and The Beetle: Thursday Memo
I remember a time in my life when I was solely focused on achieving quality in everything I did. In high school, I was obsessed with perfection and could not settle for anything less than flawless. My family always pushed me to be the best in class at school, and I was the most distinguished senpai (older pupil) in my Aikido Dojo.
Whether improving my professional skills or pursuing my hobbies, I was determined to become the best version of myself.
It was a time of self-discovery and experimentation, where I let go of anything that didn't serve my pursuit of perfection.
By quitting what didn't serve me, I could make room for what mattered and find my true passions.
It was a time of setting the foundations that helped me understand the value of quitting and how it can lead to more extraordinary achievements.
When you genuinely value quality, you'll find that you reach a point where you can't push it any further. You cannot reach perfection because you become the actual limit to yourself.
At that point, I shifted my goals from quality to quantity.
I wanted more.
We all want more in life, don't we?
More stuff, more time, more money, more business.
It's natural to crave more and strive for success. But sometimes, we get so caught up in pursuing more that we must remember to appreciate what we already have.
It's essential to find a balance between ambition and contentment and to remember that true happiness doesn't always come from having more.
Wanting more will quickly consume you. I was lucky enough that I could hit pause before it was too late. Before I ruined my family, my life, and my business.
And at that point, when I was at the bottom of the pit of self-despair, I realized there was a third way besides quality and quantity.
The third way is all about having a growth mindset, which means being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and working on them to become the best version of yourself.
With a growth mindset, I could face my weaknesses head-on and turn them into strengths.
However, developing a growth mindset is tough when media and society push toward accumulating stuff and your loved ones push toward perfection.
How do you feed your hunger for growth?
It’s counterintuitive, but you can’t do it alone. You need a village, a library, and a guide.
A village is a group of people with the same interest in growth. They can come from different walks of life, but they all support each other in improving themselves. I’ve found several villages while crawling the world in the last decades.
Once in an Aikido Dojo in Auckland, New Zealand. That’s where I prepared for my black belt exam, which was hard. But the people there made every single moment of pain worth of being lived.
On the professional side, I found my village when I joined a cohort-based training for leadership. I met my fellow training mates every second week for three months. We discussed our challenges and supported each other. I’m still in touch with some of them after so many years.
The library is in the continuous learning needed to improve yourself, your craft, and your hobbies. You need to keep learning. And never stop.
My library is in my wealth of notes that I carefully collect, organize, distill, and study. The newsletter you are reading, and this very essay, are distilled words coming out of my library.
The guide is a mentor, a coach, or a personal advisor, who asks you the most obvious questions, but from a place of genuine curiosity that will spark self-inspection. A valuable perspective that will bring order in the chaos and calm in the storm.
When I was eager for growth, I met my executive coach, who, believe it or not, changed my life. He taught me how to balance directing and delegating, empowering people and making them accountable, defining expectations and managing a team's performance, and giving and receiving feedback.
Next time you struggle for perfection or obsess for more, remember that you are the perfection you need to aspire to, and you are enough. To find that perfection and that “enough,” cultivate growth as your discipline.
If you are struggling or feeling stuck, I encourage you to find a guide, build your library, and move to a welcoming village. It will make a world of difference.
This essay was made possible by the precious help of Khsnair and Sandra Yvonne. Thanks!