Develop or Become Obsolete: Part I – Your Personal Development

personal development concept on blackboard

Earlier in my career, I worked for a VP, Human Resources, who was fond of saying, “Develop or Become Obsolete!” He meant this for our own professional development, as much as for business strategy execution. While this bold statement initially caught me off guard, I learned that he was fostering a culture of continuous learning. He was challenging us to learn and practice as much as possible to stay competitive and successful. This quote has since become a staple in my own mental model of what it takes for business professional (or athletes, for that matter) to remain competitive and successful contenders at the top of their game over time.

Let’s face it! The world changes. The market shifts. Our customer needs and demands evolve. If we as business people are not prepared and even proactive about continuing to learn, develop, grow and expand our skill sets, we will be outpaced not only by customer demands, but also by our competitors. Another colleague uses a different metaphor: “Even if you are moving forward on the train tracks, the train will overtake you if you don’t outpace it.”

The same is true in learning and development. My coaching clients are typically focused on development in one (or a combination) of four domains: Personal, Professional, Leadership or Business Development. Over the coming weeks, I’ll address each of these topics in a four part series on development. Let’s start this week with Personal Development.

Personal Development

As much as we may try to “leave our personal stuff at home” when we go to work, the reality is we are whole human beings. Who we are outside of work – parent, spouse, partner, sibling, child, neighbor, community member, volunteer – is reflective of our identity, our values, our mission and purpose in life. Interestingly, it always finds a way to show up in our work lives, our leadership style and in our work performance. Similarly, who we are at work – leader, business owner, entrepreneur, professional – is also reflective of these aspects of self, including personality and aspiration. We are the common denominator in our own experience. The better able to reconcile these two aspects of self, the more equipped we can be to show up with our most authentic self when it matters most.  In fact, it is when we become clear on these intrinsic motivators and drivers, that we are able truly to unlock our highest potential.

Personal Development has to do with who you are as a person.  It often shows up in things like New Years Resolutions – lose weight, learn Spanish, exercise more, eat healthy. All of these are designed to create a better quality of life based on some intrinsic motivator, some value. What I find to be most interesting with my coaching clients is how these same motivators and values make their way into professional and leadership development conversations. When we attempt to separate or bifurcate our identities, we not only diminish all the good and right qualities we can demonstrate, but it also arguably leans toward psychological disorders and becomes unhealthy at its extreme.

Suggestions for Personal Development:

  • Give yourself permission to be a whole human being. Experiment with integrating your whole self into multiple aspects of life.
  • Meditate. Reflect. Journal. Pray. Whatever practice or methodology you choose, our brains require some form of “time out” to process, reflect, assimilate learning and grow. Brain research shows that similar to muscle development after a hard workout, the learning actually sticks when we give our brains time to reflect and process.
  • Set more challenging stretch goals for yourself. Then go achieve them! It’s amazing how alive it feels to cross the finish line on accomplishments, especially when you never imagined you could do it. It also sets a beautiful example to those around you.
  • Write down your goals and say them out loud. There is no greater accountability than when someone says, “Hey, I remember you were going to (fill in the blank with your goal here). How’s that going?” Tell people your goals, so they will celebrate with you when you achieve them.
  • Team up with someone to accomplish goals together! Join a team, choose a workout buddy, find an accountability partner.
  • Consider our Courage, Risks and Rewards Program, which we are offering at a special low price through the month of February.

Next time, I will continue the discussion with a focus on Professional Development. Meanwhile, stay connected with us on social media, contact us with your suggestions and feedback, check out our workshops or schedule a Complimentary Coaching Consultation to determine which solution best fits your needs.

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