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.

©2017 Blue Horizon Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Give the Gift of Presence this Holiday Season!

5 Ways to Be Fully Present When it Matters Most

As we enter the holiday season, I am constantly reminded of the tradition of gift-giving as a means to celebrate prosperity, gratitude, family, love and many more personal reflections that accompany year-end. Whether you are making a list and checking it twice, or offering daily gifts over time throughout the season of lights, there is no greater gift than that of yourself. While there may be no tangible cost of sharing a bit of your true, authentic self with loved ones, friends, family, even colleagues and partners, it can require a bit of courage. There is an inherent vulnerability in exposing one’s true thoughts, feelings, and aspirations with other people, especially when the response is unpredictable.  However, the value of the gift is multiplied exponentially, and the returns are immeasurable.

Although the holidays can be incredibly hectic, stressful, exhausting and challenging at times, here are a few reminders to help you be fully present when it matters most.

5 Ways to Be Present during the Holidays

  • Equip yourself. Ensure that you are well-rested, well-hydrated and well-nourished, so that your physical being can support and sustain all of the emotional and mental demands that the season requires. This equips you to show up with your full and best energy when it matters most.
  • Be “there” physically, when possible. As the holiday song says, “There’s no place like Home for the Holidays.” There is something special about showing up in person, especially when it’s least expected. Wherever “Home” is for you, bring the gift of yourself and be there however you can. If that’s not possible, what is the next best alternative? a phone call? videocall? A personal, hand-written note?
  • Be in the moment. Disconnect from your devices. Step away from the smartphone. Set aside the agenda, the shopping list, the To-Do List. Focus on the people around you right then, right there, right now. Listen, observe, and absorb all that your interactions with others may offer.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Pay close attention to how you are experiencing the events as they unfold. Observe yourself in each situation and receive what it has to offer. Take a moment to reflect and gather your thoughts occasionally.
  • Learn from it. Every encounter offers a lesson. Some teach us how we can improve ourselves. Some teach us how we don’t want to be. Look for the lessons that help you to achieve your ultimate goals. Journaling or expressing these insights can also help in processing the lessons. Reflect on how you would like 2017 to be even more fruitful and productive.

Here’s wishing you all the hope, joy and peace you can handle throughout this holiday season and beyond. As always, please email or schedule time with me as needed. I look forward to reconnecting with you again in January for an incredible New Year!

Happy Holidays!!

Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

  • Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.
  • Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
  • Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
  • When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.
  • Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Top 10: Ways to Lead by Example

Good leaders must lead by example. Through their actions, which are aligned with what they say, they become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they erode trust, a critical element of productive leadership. Here are 10 of the dozens of ways to lead by example.

1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.

2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.

3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.

4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.

5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.

6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.

7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.

8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.

9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!

10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.

 Learn. Lead.  Leave a Legacy.