Another F**king Opportunity for Growth

4 November, 2012

Another Fucking Opportunity for Growth - or, as it is commonly known - AFOG. Doesn't life sometimes feel that way? You'll be ticking along nicely when a challenge presents itself, so you can grow - again. How can we accept these challenges gladly and avoid getting overwhelmed by them?

My best girlfriends and I were chatting on Saturday and I was talking about my new role within an organisation and the stuff I was finding challenging, and one of them shared with me something that a well-known Leadership Development Coach had shared with her once - "it's all just AFOG!"

I had debated with myself about whether to keep the 'F' in there when writing this blog, and I decided to, because it was the 'F' that illustrated how I felt at the time; much more than the 'O' or the 'G'. Kind of like "What, again? I have to learn something and grow, again? Can't life leave me in peace for once?!"

I don't know if I am the only one that feels this way. Perhaps you share the sense of the 'F' with me sometimes? As soon as you start along a self-development path, it becomes a lifetime of letting go, learning, developing and growing into wiser versions of yourself. Or perhaps, at least for those of us on this path, this is the way we choose to view life; challenges are an opportunity for us to grow.

I can't remember what it would have been like for me before I decided to interact with life this way; I know for sure that I didn't always. Was it easier, or harder before? If I don't see challenges, struggles, mistakes, lapses in knowledge and judgment as an opportunity for personal growth, then what would I do with them? How would I interact with life then?

The Downside of AFOG

  • There can be a sense of future-focus and looking at how things can always be improved. Although this is a great focus and one that inevitably leads to change for the better, it can provoke a feeling in self and others that the present moment, the now, is not quite 'good enough' as is.
  • Overwhelm. With mostly always looking at the growth side of things, sometimes all situations become growth situations, even when they don't need to be.
  • Can constantly seek out challenges or situations that grow you, get out of your comfort zone so you can learn something. This can lead to dissatisfaction with the present moment, or dissatisfaction with rest - unless you're growing you're not doing anything useful - kind of mentality.

The Upside of A(F)OG:

  • These people are the futuristic-thinkers, likely to be innovators, creating visions about a better future.
  • Personal responsibility and learning agility. These are the people that are likely to think: OK, now, what did I do to contribute to that? OK, what did I learn from that situation? OK, what would I do differently next time? They would avoid blaming others / life for its challenges and focus on what they can learn.
  • Sees events as isolated, and not generalised. Instead of thinking "this ALWAYS happens to me, life is so unfair!" it will be more that each event is unique, and therefore the learning from it is unique. As Martin Seligman talks about, they are your Realistic Optimists.

Even when it all seems a bit like "not again!" I am glad to be AOGing around the place - what I would do otherwise? And - it's useful for me to be aware of when it starts to feel like an AFOG - with the 'F' - and then to seek out situations for balance and stability - when no growth or learning is required (e.g. reading magazines of no substance in the sunshine) and remember to approach things with a lightness.

How would you say you responded to life's challenges? AOGing - AFOGing or something else?!

As always, I really love to hear from you and welcome your comments and feedback.

Love, Charlotte.

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