Every week, my wife and I have a meeting where we talk about what is going well in our family, but also what we could be doing better. She knows when I am giving less than my best, and she calls me out on it—which isn’t always easy to hear. But I know I’m lucky to be married to someone who always challenges me to work on myself and become a better person.
When we think about personal growth, we often envision a solo quest, like Don Quixote on a journey of self-improvement. We are advised to increase our self-control, get grittier, and develop a sense of purpose. So we hunker down, turn inward, and start the solitary task of reshaping our habits and behaviors.
And yet people who are thriving are usually doing so with the help of others. Peak athletes have coaches. Top executives have mentors. Great parents have parenting blogs and other great parents to bounce ideas off of. Even those contemplative Buddhist monks who seem to be at the pinnacle of self-transcendence are almost always surrounded by other transcendent monk friends.
Research backs this up, suggesting that positive relationships can help us succeed, grow, and become…