What Pond Scum Taught Me About Personal Growth

One recent evening I went for a short walk after dinner. When I got to the end of my street, I noticed the pond just off the road in and among some trees. I almost didn’t see it. Why? 

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

Because it was completely covered in pond scum. 

This happens every summer and autumn. The water gets green with algae which only partly clears, even with a huge rain.

Why does it do that? Because there is no moving water source. There is nothing to clean out the standing water and replenish with new fresh water. Thus, algae builds up and creates the greenish-colored slime we call pond scum.

A Closed System Decays

Henry Cloud talks about this in his book Integrity. He describes a law in physics called entrophy, which states that anything left to its own is in the process of dying or becoming more disorganized. The universe itself is subject to this law.

However, this law only applies to closed systems – systems that are not connected to the world, that do not get any input from outside themselves.

An Open System Grows

Open systems, on the other hand, have an input of energy from outside themselves. Some type of fuel. And they have a force that channels the energy in the proper direction.

Dr. Cloud makes a very powerful statement: “The number one reason for lack of growth in people’s lives, I have observed, is the absence of joining forces outside themselves who push them to grow.”

What can we learn from the pond scum at the end of my street? Just like a body of water, we need outside input or we become stagnant.

Five resources to open our systems and grow

  1. Conferences
  2. Training – live or on-line
  3. Mastermind or accountability group
  4. Coaching – live, virtual, or via books
  5. Conversations with friends, family, co-workers

Bringing It Home

Here’s something you can do to become more open. Get out your calendar and schedule time for personal development. I don’t mean the type of “personal development” that is so generic that it serves no one. I’m talking about something that actually develops YOU.

Decide on a budget for your personal open-system development plan. If your budget is tight, use books, blogs, or podcasts as your resources, perhaps forming a group to help hold you accountable for change. If you have more money, choose one or more of the other options. Fresh water and a channel will bring you outside your comfort zone. Then put it into practice.

Trees planted by the river thrive with the constant flow of nourishing water. Water your mind, heart, and soul so you can thrive too.

What has helped you most to make or keep your system open? Please share by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kathleen, great post and encouragement for me. Too many times I find myself not setting aside time like this. Your post reminded me of why this is so important. Thanks!

  • Kathleen, this is perfect for me right now. I’m buried with things to do and dealing with the whirlwind. With your encouragement I just set aside 30 minutes to do exactly what you discussed here.

    “Get out your calendar and schedule time for personal development. I don’t mean the type of “personal development” that is so generic that it serves no one. I’m talking about something that actually develops YOU.”

    Thanks for your encouragement!

    • Kathleen Thompson

      Way to go, Brian. This is so often the first things we let go. When we’re in the midst of the whirlwind, we often can’t afford the time for personal development. However, we can do exactly what you’re doing – plan our development in advance so it is folded it in with our other activities when the time comes.