Michelle shares her inspiring perspective that personal growth can be fun, how she built a strong support system and why it's the most important thing she’s done. She also provides multiple questions and practices we can use to be healthier, happier, and more present for ourselves and the people we care about.
Personal Growth As A Team Sport
The courage to do the inner work to be your authentic self and aspire to live your most fulfilling life is one of the traits I admire most in people. Honest self-inquiry is also one of the most challenging personal skillsets to cultivate. It requires you to look in the mirror and see your whole self, flaws and all, without shying away.
I’ve always perceived personal growth as an individual effort achieved through discipline and practices like meditation and journaling. As such, it often feels intimidating and can be tempting to veer away from. In today’s podcast, WTHN Co-founder Michelle Larivee shares an important revelation that personal growth doesn't need to be a solo quest, and that by embarking on it with others, can actually be fun.
I’ve been reflecting on this concept of personal growth as a team sport since our conversation and continue to feel more enthusiastic about embarking on the journey. I’m very grateful to Michelle for that, and to share a few ways we can all build our own personal growth teams here. You can hear more of her valuable advice in our podcast.
Create a strong support system
One of the most reassuring things a mentor has ever said to me is:“I’m in your corner.” That’s exactly the feeling Michelle’s support system evokes for her. “You always know you have a community of people who are rooting for you and who you can rely on to fill in the gaps when you’re facing fear, challenges, or uncertainty,” she says. “It allows you to be vulnerable and accept that you don’t know everything. There is so much value in hearing other people’s perspectives, especially when they’ve had similar experiences, when you’re making decisions.”
Michelle’s support system includes everyone from her husband and friends, to her business school classmates and other founders. They each play a variety of roles for each other. One I found interesting was her goal group: A group of friends who set goals together and check in often to support and hold each other accountable. While all friends are, of course, valuable to include in your group, it can be helpful to have a friend whose known you for a long time and thus has a sense of your behavior patterns, strengths and weaknesses.
Michelle believes building a strong support system is the most important thing she’s done. It’s also part of the reason she thinks personal growth can be fun. “Personal growth doesn’t have to be hard and isolating. It can be social and become a part of your conversation," she adds.
Consider following her lead by opening up this dialogue with your friends. You can take the first step by bringing up a few of the things you’re personally working on and ask them what they’re focused on as well. Be inquisitive about their goals, ask how you can support them, and if you’ve had a similar experience, perhaps share helpful insights you’ve gleaned that may be beneficial for them too. Then, strive to check-in often, acknowledge their wins, and support them when they’re facing challenges; Even an encouraging text message letting someone know you’re thinking of them can make all the difference.
You might also think about committing to a goal together, like working to be more grateful or developing a habit like meditation. This past year, my best friend and I started sharing three things we’re grateful for most nights. Our 3s can be brief and about anything. The only guideline is that they have to be 100% positive. Ten months in, we’ve noticed a significant improvement in our overall life perspective. We’ve not only become more grateful, but perceive challenges in a more positive light and can bounce back faster. And, Michelle’s right, it really has been fun. Growing alongside someone you care about is rewarding and deepens your connection.
Michelle shared another great prompt, which she’s personally answering for her own family, that can help us find more ways to do so while also creating new memories: How many new experiences can you create together? How can you use that joy to connect, recharge, and get inspired?
Accelerate your growth by working with a coach
Each one of us can benefit from working with a coach and I appreciated Michelle opening up about how valuable having one in her support system is. Here’s a glimpse of what she shared…
“Having a coach has been a game-changer for me.
You have a true advocate who is committed to helping you become a better person and leader. They can point out areas of opportunity and give you the hard feedback you need to grow.
We’ve discovered so many things having a neutral party who can get feedback from the team or investors about how I can improve. It gives you a holistic vision of yourself.
Because your coach isn’t involved in the day to day, they can also help you get out of the nitty gritty, look at the big picture, and make sure you’re staying connected to your vision and strategy.
My coach has taught me to remain hyper focused on my priorities and to say no to anything that falls out of them. It’s another support system to maintain balance in my life and help make sure I have time to be with my family.
It’s also a check and balance for my holistic health and wellbeing. My coach always says: Taking time out is how you sustain high performance. He really holds me accountable to that.”
Be a pillar of support
Being part of a strong community means that we will all play an equal role standing in each other’s corners. Michelle is personally dedicated to doing this and as she’s constantly surrounded by WTHN healers, I was curious what she’s observed about how they create a safe space for people to be vulnerable and support them on their journeys.
We are slowly beginning to internalize the notion that we have to take care of ourselves first if we want to take care of others. Yet, it was a specific question Michelle posed that caught my attention about how truly intentional we should be about this: “What does it take for you to not just show up for people, but to be truly present so you can really hear and help them?”
In our conversation, we talked about different mental and physical practices — from deep breathing to sound therapy — that can help us be present and how often WTHN healers commit to doing them (before sessions and multiple times throughout the day.) There’s a big difference between being there and being present, and I was grateful for Michelle’s encouragement to reflect on what we personally need to do to best support the people we care about.