About the time I was planning to move to Las Vegas, a workshop participant named Pat Egan suggested that I should meet his mother. Like me, she had grown up in a small town in Minnesota, was an author, entrepreneur and enthusiastic traveler. Now we live in the same part of Las Vegas and Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse has been a favorite lunch companion ever since.


On Saturday, Sharon stopped by to give me a copy of her upcoming book (out November 2), Calling All Women: From Competition to Connection. It’s a terrific book of advice and inspiration gleaned from her years of working with people around the world. 


The reason I got an advanced copy is because Sharon had invited me to write the foreword. As I reread what I had written, I realized that I was talking about something that’s equally important for entrepreneurial success, although it’s not much discussed in conventional business books. Here’s a bit of what I have to say about that overlooked part of the journey.


Long after my formal schooling had ended, I first encountered the term “personal growth.” Up until then, I had assumed that once I reached adulthood, I had finished growing and that was that. I was immediately fascinated by the implication that growth could continue. Those two little words carried hope. The end of dead ends. Stretching. Discovery. Becoming. Wider horizons. Beginnings. 


Despite my eagerness to explore, it was difficult to find materials and teachers that could help me on my journey. At the time, both books and seminars were written by men, for men. Apparently, women were either unteachable or disinterested. I decided to ignore the lack of attention to my gender and adapt ideas and concepts from the existing material. Although I operated in secret, I came to think of myself as a card- carrying self-help junkie. 


Books and seminars were only the beginning. The real work was done in my day-to-day life, but the real work is never done. There’s always another path to explore. As time went on, the notion of lifelong growth took root and I simply assumed it was something that would be a daily part of my life. I came to see that the rewards of such a pursuit were greater than I’d realized. Actively pursuing personal development not only adds another dimension to life, it may, in fact, prolong it. “People don’t grow old,” says Deepak Chopra. “When we stop growing, we become old.”


So what does it take to keep growing yourself? One prerequisite for success is a willingness to change. Recently I came across an article I had written about change. I pointed out that change comes in two different packages and it’s necessary to tell them apart. There’s Imposed Change, which is the kind we can do nothing about. Taxes get raised, fashion designers insist we stop wearing willow green, or road construction makes travel difficult. On the other hand, there’s Instigated Change. That’s the kind that we think of as improving our lives because we have chosen it. Best of all, we can instigate change at any  time we want. 


Why does personal growth matter in running a business? Quite frankly, our business grows or stagnates in direct proportion to how much growth or stagnation we’re allowing into our lives. Our own business is also a terrific laboratory for putting what we’ve learned into practice. As Paul Hawken points out, “Being in business is not about making money. It’s a way to become who you are.” 


How wonderfully synergistic!