COLUMN: Strickely Speaking: Personal growth and the problem of “er”

As a teenager, I came across people that were bigger, faster, and stronger but that didn’t keep me from competing in athletics.   They may have had natural advantages, but that had nothing to do with attitude, work ethic, and toughness.

In the business world, I encountered people that were smarter, quicker, and louder but that didn’t keep me from progressing into leadership positions.  They may have had superior intellect and bold confidence, but that had nothing to do with commitment, care, and persistence. 

In life, there will always be people that have the “er.”  They will be prettier, taller, brighter, and maybe better.  There will be people with nicer cars, larger homes, and bigger bank accounts.  On the surface, they will have those inherent advantages that many of us wished we had.  The issue is not the “er” factors in life, but rather how we respond to the “er.”


We can get caught in the comparison trap and become depressed, angry, envious, spiteful, or any number of emotional responses.  It can be debilitating or motivating.  Neither is really a good response.  We don’t need to let the “er” shut us down.  Nor do we need to let the “er” make us consumed with competition toward others.  Let me rather suggest a focus that has nothing to do with comparisons or the “er”.  It’s a focus on personal growth.

Personal growth is not comparing to someone else, but rather reaching one’s own potential. Personal growth is something that we should be seeking at every stage of life.  Personal growth is about becoming the best version of “you”!  It has nothing to do with the “er” from anyone else.  

Personal growth is aimed at a life of purpose, joy, fulfillment, and accomplishment.  It’s a focus that starts wherever you are today and moves forward.  It’s a focus that should never reach an ending, but the journey of the process is the ultimate reward.  While the process is unique for everyone, the basic approach is the same.

Personal growth process:

  • Clarify the identity you desire!
  • Start investing in yourself through disciplined habits!
  • Stop wasting time on negative distractions!
  • Create a challenging lifestyle of continual growth!

Personal growth is not a competition, a comparison, or a coincidence.  It’s a personal commitment based on clarifying identity, starting good habits, walking away from bad habits, and developing a lifestyle that moves you forward.  

Forget the “er” and be the “est” you can be.