Not too long ago a friend pursuing photography of mine asked me for a bit of advice. More specifically, he asked what personal bit of advice he should follow as a photographer in order to improve.
To me, one of the greatest assets you can have to help you grow and explore are the people you surround yourself with. Being involved with those that challenge you and continually engage you keeps you moving forward. It makes you look at aspects you may not have thought of or anticipated.
We all need some sort of support. Kind words are always nice. If however, you surround yourself only with individuals who speak nothing but positives of your work then you likely become much too complacent with your own work. If you want to surround yourself with people that are below your level, you will find no shortage of such groups. It's not easy being in a position where you're constantly chasing after those ahead of you, but at least you'll grow.
Seek out those who will challenge you on a daily basis. Hold yourself up to that sort of standard. Before you know it, you'll look back and see the path you've covered.