Grow or Die

Change of seasons from winter to summer

Set a goal that is big enough that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming.” -Jim Rohn

The title of this blog post is pretty dramatic, isn’t it?

Maybe it is, but it’s true. At best, in this life, we’re all either growing or we’re decaying. Since I’m the type of guy who likes to push the envelope, let me take it one step further.

We’re all either growing or we’re dying.

Technically, I guess that there would be a tiny segment of the population that would be the exception to the above rule:

If your life is flawlessly perfect and there’s nothing in your life that you want to change, improve, or show some growth, then this blog post is definitely not for you.

(Actually, this entire website is not for you. Why are you here???)

For the rest of us, keep reading.

If there is a big area of your life where you want to grow (think: quitting a destructive habit, starting your own business, or committing to start standing up for yourself), let me be real with you:

It will never happen if you continue to be the exact same person you are today.

Growth by Death

I’m sure that you have known someone who has successfully made a huge positive change in their life (left a toxic relationship, got back into shape, started going to college later in life, quit smoking, etc.)

Did you notice something different about that person after that change?

I’m not talking simply about their physical appearance either–it’s deeper than that. It’s almost like they have a different energy about them. They almost seem unrecognizable in comparison to their old selves.

There’s a reason for that. It’s because the old version of that person no longer exists.

That’s why simply saying that you need to “be better” in order to achieve your biggest goals doesn’t quite cut it.

In order to reach big goals in your life, you’ll need to transform yourself in order to make them happen. Who you are today will not be good enough to do it. In fact, since we’re talking about big goals here–you will need to grow, improve, and change so much in the process achieving those big goals that the “old you” will be completely unrecognizable.

A distant memory.

Or in other words, the “old you” will need to die a very real death–and you’re the one who is responsible for making it happen.

Luckily, you can make this happen in a very simple way.

Becoming a Killer

To help illustrate the problem we’re facing here, take a look at the following statements that were said to me by people in the past year:

  • “I’d love to lose 40 lbs, but I’d rather be eaten alive by poisonous ants than give up eating pasta.”
  • “I’d love to start my own business, but this is one of the best seasons of (insert television show here) ever, and every time that I try to start working on my business, I end up getting sucked into the drama of each episode.”
  • “I’d love to know what it’s like to experience true love, but (significant other’s name) and I have been together for the past seven years–and even though I’m not happy at all, at least I’m comfortable.”
  • “I’d love to manage my emotions better, but I don’t want to see a therapist. Only crazy people do that.”
  • “I’d love to quit smoking, but my afternoon smoke break with my friends is my main form of social interaction.”

It’s hard to tell which one of the above statements is the saddest, but the sad thing that they all share is that these people believe that transforming themselves will be an enormously painful process. So instead, they just keep wishing for a better life.

And unfortunately for them, it isn’t coming.

Honestly, why should a “better life” visit these people?

The reality of a better life only visits the people who are willing to make real changes in their lives, and sadly, the people who said those things to me are nowhere close to experiencing it.

In other words, you’ll only experience a better life when you’re willing to find the inner strength, guts, and resolve to become a killer. 

Yes, this does require courage because killing the “old you” (or more specifically, killing the old parts of you that are inhibiting your growth) won’t be painless, but it also isn’t nearly as hard as you would think.

Let me give you a personal example.

The Killing Process

A few years ago, I ate fast food  multiple times a day (Burger King was my all-time favorite) and I drank 3-4 cans of Diet Coke every day. I think that I fooled a lot of people into thinking otherwise, but in my most private moments where I couldn’t run or hide from the searing pain of my reality, I knew the truth:

I was a complete mess.

One day, after being sick and tired of being sick and tired, I made a firm decision to live a better life (side note: don’t let anyone tell you that living a better life is more complicated than this. All that it takes is making a decision. That’s it.)

While that’s true, I still had a very real problem to deal with.

The thought of completely giving up soda, fast food, and sleeping constantly was way too overwhelming for me to handle.

So instead, I made it simple for myself. I said that I was only going to have one Diet Coke a day and one fast food meal a day. That might not seem like much of a change to you, but please believe that it was a humongous deal for me.

Most importantly, that simple change made the wheels of momentum start moving in my favor.

After six months, I was down to one Diet Coke a week and two fast food meals a week.

Two years later as my eating habits continued to steadily improve, I finally had the new found energy to pursue many of my lifelong dreams, including launching this blog that you’re currently reading.

Fast forward to today, and now I have completely given up drinking soda, I’m drinking green kale smoothies twice a day in their place, I’ve greatly reduced (not yet eliminated) fast food from my diet and I’m waking up to go to workout every morning at 5 a.m.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t have superhuman willpower (quite the opposite, actually), I’m not an undercover health and fitness fanatic, and I’m definitely not sharing this with you to publicly pat myself of the back.

I’m sharing this to let you know that any change that you want in your life is very possible, and it’s simpler than you think.

Believe me, there was a better chance of me jumping into a bathtub with a family of rabid raccoons than there was of me even having a sip of a kale smoothie in 2009, and now here I am unable to start my day without one. If I can do this, anyone can do it.

So, what happened?

I made a decision, and then I committed to taking tiny steps toward my new life, each and every day. 

The result of all of those thousands of tiny steps was a complete transformation.

The old 2009 version of me is officially dead thanks to all of those seemingly simple actions, and no one needs to mourn that guy’s passing. Good riddance, as far as I’m concerned.

The best part is that I can proudly say that I was the one who killed him.

Dying to Live

It doesn’t matter what the big goal is that you want to achieve in your life, you can do it once you commit to taking consistent action (no matter how small it is), starting today.

  • If you want to quit smoking, commit to smoking five cigarettes today, instead of your usual six.
  • If you want to stop being a chronic complainer, commit to going complaint-free for an hour once a day.
  • If you want to break free of your comfort zone, commit to trying one new thing each month that scares you a little.

Over time those small actions will make a huge difference in the quality of your life. In fact, if you stick with those tiny actions, you’ll create amazing momentum and become shocked at how much you’ve positively changed your life a few months from now.

You would have literally created a whole new you.

The key thing is to remember that we cannot achieve our biggest goals and dreams by being the exact same people we are at this moment.

We will have to grow, improve, and transform in ways that we never have done before. And yes, that also means that we’ll have to be willing to kill the “old us” in order to make it happen.

The other option is to stay completely the same, which is fine, if that’s what you want. Just don’t expect to get any different results than the ones you’re currently getting.

The reality is that in order to enjoy more of what life has to offer, we will have to become more as well. Even if it means that the person you are today will have to die in the process.

That might sound scary, but the alternative (aka, doing nothing) is much scarier.

Grow or die.

The choice is yours.

Your Turn

Have you ever made a major positive change in your life? Did you have to “kill” the old you (and some bad habits) in order to grow? If so, jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

15 thoughts on “Grow or Die”

  1. Yes Shola
    Everything is changing every moment, so why not we ??! If we want to improve our health and wealth then we have to accept the good change; we should learn from the past and implement in future for better life…!

  2. Yes, that is! I feel this truth on my own skin right now but can’t find the words to say it. So, thank you very-very much! And what I want to add: when I’m dying=changing mentally and emotionally, some of surrounding people are disappearing from my life. I write this for all who may be scared “what shit happens with my friends and me?” : please don’t be afraid! Just wait a little and take a look around, you will find many other beautiful people))) Happy birthday…and again…and again)!

    • Excellent advice, Olenka! I believe in addition by subtraction, and often in order to grow, we may have to release some people in our lives who are holding us down. Happy birthday again and again, indeed!

  3. My biggest challenge is in trying to determine what I want with my life. The career I thought I wanted turned out to be a nightmare, and I don’t have a back up career. I’m thankful that I have a job to help pay most of my bills, but it’s not helping me move forward in a career that I love. I’m really trying to find new interests and opportunities that I can turn into careers, but it is not an easy process. Trying to think positively though!

    • Pete, if it helps–it took me 35 years before I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. The best advice that I’ve ever heard of in this area was from the mega best-selling author, Liz Gilbert. She said to focus on what makes you feel curious instead of trying to find your passion (which is what most motivational-type writers and speakers often say). Keep moving toward what makes you curious, and I’m confident that you’ll move closer to the career that you’ll love. Hang in there, my man!

  4. Hi Shola, welcome back! Committing to learning & growing is so essential to happiness. I’m glad you addressed the legitimacy of approaching this in increments. Some people, like my husband, can only change by going cold turkey. It works for them, and anything else sets them up for failure. People with that temperament do not understand those of us who don’t succeed that way. If I try to change abruptly, especially a big change, I fail almost immediately. However, when I plan a big change, and do it in small bites, I always succeed. You said it, the key is to decide to do it, regardless of how you plan to proceed. Thank you for explaining this, because sometimes when we make small changes, at first it doesn’t feel like we really did anything. As we gain momentum, and make more small changes, it all really does add up to radically changing ones life. Have a great week Shola!

    • Great points, as always Donna! Everyone approaches major changes differently. Some people like your husband can succeed doing the “cold turkey” approach. People like you and I need to do it in small bites in order to succeed. The key though, as you mentioned, is the decision to change–once that is locked-in, pretty much anything is possible 🙂

  5. Love this, Shola! I’ve had to kill parts of my life in the last two years. Boy, did I grieve, but it was worth it. I don’t suppose you could share your kale smoothie recipe on your blog sometime, could you? Sounds yummy! Cheers and have a great week!

    • Hey Sharon! I’m right there with you, my friend. Killing off some parts of me triggered a bit of a grieving process too, but just like you experienced, it was soooo worth it. And since you asked, below are the ingredients for my kale smoothie. Admittedly, I’m not a culinary wizard, but it works for me :): Vanilla almond milk, kale, one cucumber, scoop of vanilla protein powder, small handful of almonds, chia seeds, and an apple. Enjoy!

  6. Hey Shola,

    Couldn’t agree more. If you are not learning your mind is stagnant and will die on it’s own without any effort – I wonder if that is why there are so many zombie programs, people identify, ha. The above mentioned learning includes learning about yourself and being honest with what you find. Quite a few people I know deceive themselves…they criticize behavior in others that they display themselves and never seem to recognize it. Amen to killing the icky parts and keeping (improving) the real and genuinely compassionate lovely people we all are. The “Sunday Morning” program on CBS had a piece on Bhutan in the Himalaya’s, their motto is Gross National Happiness vs Gross National Product – we should all take note.

    Have a lovely week all!

    • Kat, that is too funny–maybe that IS why there are so many zombie shows on TV these days! You mentioned self-awareness and the ability (or more accurately, the inability) of people to recognize that they often display the behaviors that the despise in others, and I couldn’t agree more. That definitely needs to be a topic of a future blog post! Also, I absolutely LOVE the idea of measuring the Gross National Happiness vs. the Gross National Product…can you imagine what life would be like if we did that here in America?

  7. Another awesome piece!!! This actually kind of reminds me of an article I read recently (, while the idea that there is no consistent “self” has been a Buddhist thing forever, it has now been confirmed by science! It doesn’t mean there is no “you”, just that “self” is a constantly changing state, which is why our “self” of the past seems unrecognizable when we change. I think this is important, because when people say things like, “i could NEVER give up soda/cigarettes/whatever” they’re buying into the idea of a stagnant and solid “self”.

    • Mona, that is a fascinating article–thanks for sharing! I completely agree with that mindset. Since we are in a constantly changing state, it is such a limiting (and inaccurate) idea to state that we are incapable of changing something about us, since we’re constantly changing anyway. Thanks again for sharing!

  8. I had to let the soft and agreeable me die in order too become more confident, decisive and assertive. I once listened to a christian missionary who tried to convert me for like 30 minutes. I was in a hurry but didnt want to interrupt him because I didnt want to hurt his feelings. Also I waited 6+ years to tell my wife I didnt liked the fact that she had become overweight. I have become an advocate of the truth after this change.

    When a missionary tries to convert me now, I will be honest and decisive. I will spare him 30 minutes of his time. I also told my wife, she understood my feelings and wanted to change for me. We are more happy now!


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Hi! I am Shola

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Over a decade ago, I was drowning in the despondency of yet another workday. My success as the top regional performer had been numbed by a culture of incessant workplace bullying. And, I’d recently made the situation worse by filing a formal complaint. In short, I was collateral damage in a company without the process or intention to address my experience.

Exhausted from the drama, with an unrecognizable version of myself at the wheel, I intentionally swerved off the interstate in an attempt to take my own life. But in that half-second, my reflexes responded, and I yanked the wheel away from disaster. As I clipped the guardrail on I 405, something changed...

I uncovered a power within myself

...a burning desire to reverse a trend that happens daily to sixty-five million people in this country alone. This catalyst has since become Go Together™ Movement - a transformational roadmap of mindset, behaviors, and tools that transform workplace cultures and drive results.

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