“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Power of Personal Development
by Chris Nelson-Jeffers
There are many things in life that you cannot control, but you can always control your attitude toward them.
When you cultivate and practice a positive attitude, you will recognize failure as both temporary and as a learning experience that will make you better, and stronger.
Personal development is a constant, life-long process that begins before we are born, and continues until the moment of our death – perhaps beyond.
You are always learning and extending your knowledge, your understanding, and your ability to apply what you have learned toward the obstacles and challenges that you encounter. We refer to this process as Personal Development.
It is through the development of yourself that you will achieve the things you want and desire.
Nothing great happens overnight, and every advance builds on what came before.
Think about it. You did not walk before you could crawl, and you did not run before you could walk. Learning to read required learning to recognize letters, then to understand words, and then finally to comprehend the ideas communicated in sentences and paragraphs.
Trial and Error
Every success story you ever read or heard about experienced months and sometimes years of striving, and usually failing, before achieving the level of celebrity success you now admire and wish for.
Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different ways to produce light from electricity, before successfully combining a carbon filament with a vacuum chamber, to produce a light bulb that would not burn out within a few seconds.
The Internet-based mega-market Amazon.com began in Jeff Bezos’ garage in Belleview, Washington as an online marketplace for books. By leveraging the world-wide reach of the Internet with technology and logistical systems innovation, Amazon’s online marketplace today is a virtual one-stop shop for just about any product imaginable, including houses, cars, furniture, appliances, electronics and even groceries – all delivered to your doorstep.
5 Pillars of Personal Development
How do you rate yourself in each of these areas?
- Mental and Intellectual
Each of these areas is important in the development of yourself as a whole, well-rounded, mature being.
Most people however only focus on the first one, two, or three areas, and neglect the forth and fifth, thinking they are unimportant.
Yes, you have to start somewhere, but the more you endeavor to become better and more capable, the more you will eventually come to recognize that all five areas of personal development are intertwined and essential for each other.
In future posts we will explore each of these areas in more depth, identify why each is important, and how each supports the others.
The Power of Personal Development
As you begin your focused effort on developing your skills, knowledge, understanding, and potential, you’ll be working to develop one or more of the following areas:
- Self-Awareness – Before you can determine where you are going, you first have to figure out where you are. You may think this is obvious, since you are you and who knows you better than yourself?
In truth, understanding yourself can be the most difficult challenge of all, as we become quite good at rationalization and excuse-making, and blaming others for our own shortcomings and all the bad things that happen to us (and the good things that don’t).
Learning and understanding what makes yourself tick requires that you be willing and able to look at your own areas of weakness as well as your areas of strength. Sometimes this requires someone else outside of yourself who is perhaps better able to see and identify those strengths and weaknesses.
Ultimately however, learning about what makes you who you are, including your straits, behaviors, thoughts and feelings – is critical to improving yourself and becoming a better person who is more effective and successful at getting the results you desire.
- Core Values – What are your core values? What is the creed or code that you live by? Can you articulate it clearly? What things in your life are the most important to you?
Your decisions in life need to be congruent with your core values. It is the incongruent choices, actions, and decisions in our lives which tend to cause the most confusion, trauma, and failure.
- Identity – Think of this as your personal “brand”. Companies and celebrities spend a lot of time and money to develop and reinforce their brand and brand image. You should too, on a personal level.
A brand encapsulates both core values and your offering. A brand needs to be congruent with the core values of the entity it represents.
For example, the McDonald’s brand is built around a consistent food product (in other words, it is prepared and tastes the same no matter which McDonald’s restaurant you go to in the world) that is quickly prepared and delivered within minutes if not seconds (hence “fast food”) and is relatively inexpensive. When you see those iconic golden arches, you immediately know exactly what to expect, and what you’ll get.
Suppose instead you walked into a McDonalds where a host informed you that reservations were needed, a jacket and tie were required, it took several minutes for a server to take your order, a half-hour to get your food, the burger was unlike anything you’d ever seen or tasted before, and the bill came to over $100 (plus tip)? Was this what you expected? Is this level of service consistent with the McDonald’s brand?
When people hear your name or see your face, they should be able to know what they will experience in their encounter and dealings with you – and those things should be utterly congruent with your core values.
Honest, integrity, a fair deal, follow-through, quality results, a pleasant personality, easy to do business with … what are your core values? How do they match up to what people expect from you (your identity)?
- Talents – Everyone has things they are particularly “good” at, and things that they are really not so good at. You might consider these as personal strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, no one is instantly good at anything. Learning anything – and becoming good or skilled at it – requires study and practice. By “talent” however, we tend to think of things that you tend to learn quickly, have an active interest or passion about, and exhibit a certain flair.
For example, many people can play the piano, but few people can play at the level of a virtuoso, no matter how much they might want to and how many years they practice.
The only way to find out what you’re talented at is to try many different things. Finding out what you are naturally good at doing, and have an active interest and passion for doing, is part of building your identity and developing yourself.
There are those who say that you should work to develop your weaknesses. Others, however, say that you should identify and develop your strengths and leverage them to your advantage, and find others to do for you what you are not so good at.
Selfish, or Self-Development?
Many people – consciously or not – tend to believe that focusing on personal development is a selfish, self-centered, and even narcissistic pursuit.
Such people – perhaps in your own family – may denigrate, criticize, and throw up barriers to your efforts to develop and improve yourself, and to become a better more capable person.
There are many reasons for this. Jealousy, fear, or a desire to maintain control.
Developing yourself does not mean becoming self-absorbed however. Remember that one of the pillars of Personal Development is Social development.
Almost any goal or achievement will at some point require the cooperation of other people. Unless you live as a hermit you will have relationships with other people. Even if you are an extreme introvert it will benefit you tremendously to include social development and practice of your “people skills” in your program of self-development.
Social interaction will be easier if you develop a personal brand and identity that is congruent with your core values. If people know what to expect from you, what your talents are, and also, what your firm limits are, there will be fewer opportunities for disappointment and conflict.
In short, the path to empowering yourself to do the sorts of things you want to do and to achieve the things you want to achieve lies in the continuous development of yourself through Personal Development.
BONUS: Download this post as a PDF
Not a [Keys To Prosperity] subscriber? Subscribe Now!