What personal development should I pursue?

by Sam on October 5, 2010

Many men die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five. ~Benjamin Franklin

One-Minute Answer: “This is who I am—a product of my DNA, experiences, and environment. People have to accept me the way I am.” Ever thought or said this?

Someone close to you might respond, “I not only accept you the way you are, I love you the way you are. But I love you too much to let you stay that way!” What is that person suggesting? Perhaps that you should realign your behavior according to your answers to one of these five personal, strategic questions.

  • Do I have congruency between my core values, beliefs, and desires and the way I actually live my life?
  • What transformations do the criticisms that others give me directly and indirectly tell me to make?
  • What new future am I striving to create and how will I need to behave differently to get there?
  • What roadblocks have others or have I erected to my achievement at home and at work?
  • How can I bring more joy into the lives of others and help them experience less pain?

No matter which question resonates for you, expect to find an action below to launch you to a better place.

Five-Minute Answer: Unless you’ve “died” at the age of twenty-five, you’re striving to improve. Which of these actions are your best opportunities for that?

Residing in You

1. Go deeper into your faith. Belief in God is ultimate empowerment; it propels the rest of the advice on this list. Whatever you call your particular brand of faith, eschew its label in favor of living it out.

2. Confront a fear. Nothing debilitates more than insecurity. Start by admitting to it. Get help from trusted counsel for acting in the face of it.

3. Assume a more positive outlook. Easier said than done! Tap the power of the 21-day rule, which says we can create a new practice through repetition. Each day block and reject the first dark thought that comes to mind. Soon you’ll be doing that to most of your excessively negative notions. More empowering behavior will soon follow.

4. Improve your communication skills. Register for a presentation skills workshop. Take a course in interpersonal communication. Become more sensitized to the impact of your tone of voice (38%) and your body language (55%) that accompany and overwhelm your words (7%).

5. Learn a language. What an opportunity this is to develop deeper relationships with speakers of that language and serve them more beneficially, as well as exercise your mind!

6. Go deeper with technology. Jump-start your productivity by taking an intermediate or advanced course on the principal software you use. Keep your hardware current. Be sure you’re taking maximum advantage of the digital age to advance your business.

7. Become more/less competitive/visible. Hillel the Elder said, “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I?” Does your situation call you out of the background to be more aggressive or would it be best to reduce your profile? Ask others who know you for their opinions.

8. Exercise. Thirty minutes of aerobics every other day and a similar commitment to weight training may be the energy boost you’ll find. Consult a physician and a personal trainer before you get started.

9. Take your full vacation. Another battery charger is to take all the days off from work that are allotted to you and to mass them in bigger, rather than smaller, chunks.

10.Read a book a month. Alternate between entertaining novels and enlightening non-fiction.

11.Clean up your last performance review. Have you performed the curative actions your boss indicated following your most recent performance evaluation? Did you check back to verify that your response met expectations?

12.Break a habit. One view of life is that it’s about making habits and breaking habits. The most successful people—certainly those most resilient in times of change—are those who on any given day are likely to break more habits than they make.

Residing in You and Others

13.Strengthen a relationship. Give the person a good listening-to while you suspend 75% of your need to talk. Express thanks for past support. Partner in pain removal.

14.Heal a relationship. Accept in your heart your responsibility for letting things deteriorate. This will enable you to ask, “Will you forgive me for the role I’ve played?” with conviction. Then follow #13, above.

15.Release a grudge. This is often the first step you need to take to achieve #14, above. The very best thing it does is free you from the burden of bitterness and resentment.

16.Become more influential. Everything found in the archives on this web site and on the rest of this page shares the same intent—to make you a better seller of your ideas and a more inspirational leader.

17.Give someone honest and constructive criticism. Be true to others and to yourself when you are in a position to, and are expected to, point out their opportunities to get better. Deliver that criticism such that you condemn the deed and not the doer.

18.Praise someone. Pick three people that you work with or live with to thank for their positive contributions to your accomplishments.

19.Support someone. There are a number of people in your life who will be greatly uplifted when you confirm your presence in their corner. Be their unconditional cheerleader.

20.Serve. Be even more selfless and humble than you are now. Serve your customers—at work and at home—more exceptionally than you ever have, with far more than they expect. As you travel through life, engage in acts of random kindness.

Breakthrough! I have never felt quite so overwhelmed after writing one of these ASKS. I need more than a week to reflect on it, and I suspect you do as well. So, there won’t be a new email next week. Between now and October 20, please do this: (1) check off everything that you’ve already adopted in your life as a best practice (congratulations!); (2) within each of the two now shortened sections prioritize the remaining actions with the most time urgent one at the top of the list; (3) start to work on the top priority action in each section. Get as much done as possible before the next email appears on your desktop.


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