Lesson 2 of 7
In Progress

Be a Giver

hey June 9, 2021

One of the best ways to attract a growth-oriented social circle is to prove to the world that you’re a growth-oriented person. And a good way to do that is to help other people grow. Don’t just focus on your own growth. Invest some time and energy in helping others too. This can quickly transform your social circle.

For the first several years that I was into personal growth, it was mostly a private pursuit. During those years I read hundreds of books, attended seminars, practiced skills, wrote mission statements, analyzed my past, and so on. I did a lot of inner work. I occasionally helped people, but only on a small scale like in a discussion forum or via email. I didn’t make any substantial efforts to help other people grow as a regular part of my lifestyle.

For the most part, I was still the oddball in my social circle. I often felt more ambitious than the people around me. I lacked mentors to show me the ropes. I worked hard and tried to make the best decisions I could, but I struggled a lot, especially in business. In 1999 I went bankrupt due to racking up way too much debt trying to make my business work.

I came out of that experience with a very open mind. Going bankrupt was actually a relief, and it gave me a fresh start. I still loved being an entrepreneur, but I knew I couldn’t live the next five years like the previous five. I challenged my old assumptions and began exploring and experimenting with different ideas. I figured I had little to lose since my old approach clearly wasn’t working.

One of those experiments lead to volunteering in a trade association, writing articles, and reaching out to help others. Later I started a free discussion forum for indie game developers. I also began speaking at conferences to share ideas. I shifted my approach from working on personal growth in private to trying to be more helpful in public. My life transformed tremendously when I did this. My business finally started doing well too.

Within a year or so, my life was rich in growth-oriented friends. It all started with making the effort to help other people grow.

From 1999 to 2004, I did a lot of service-oriented work. This eventually led to starting my blog in 2004. My blog did well right out of the gate, but what many people don’t realize is that I’d been building up to this for five years prior. Before I published my first blog post, my articles published on other sites had already attracted thousands of readers. So I had lots of positive social support for moving in this direction when I finally made the shift. That social support made the transition much easier.

There was still some social drag. Many game developers and software developers think personal growth is cheesy, so when I decided to start a personal development blog, some thought it was a questionable shift. Yet those same critics love working on their personal growth. They just don’t label it as such. They prefer labels like education, skill building, social dynamics, and quantified self. The more android-sounding a label is, the more they seem to like it. But it’s still personal growth with a different tag.

The social drag didn’t matter though because I had plenty of positive social support. The positive social support is where you want your focus to be. If you try to convince the negative people in your life to get on board, you’ll waste a lot of energy and probably have little to show for it. If someone is getting in your face every week, stirring up your self doubt, or incessantly whining at you, then by all means let go of connections that are clearly not aligned. But otherwise it’s usually more productive to focus on adding positive social support instead of fussing over those who can’t give you what you need.