The first in a series of blogs designed to promote awareness and discussion around leadership development.
Making the Commitment
Individuals, like organisations, cannot afford to stand still. They need to be constantly on the move, evaluating what's next, and moving forward. The dilemma is that individuals, as well as organisations, tend to be better at the intention than the reality. No-one would deny the value of setting goals, having ambitious plans and targets - without some degree of drive and ambition, we would all struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The problem is that human beings by nature tend to resist change in an often subconscious way - intellectually, we know we should do x and y, but at times it is curiously difficult to motivate ourselves. Yet we know the change makes sense! So why is this?
What drives human needs?
As Maslow first recognised, we all have needs that must be met before we move on to the next level. If our very survival is at stake, we are only motivated to protect and secure ourselves and our families. In the wake of a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, people find amazing reserves of energy and strength as they move into 'automatic pilot' mode. No-one worries about KPIs or whether the boss is happy with us or not. As we move through the levels of need, we must satisfy them at that level before tackling the next - yet we often fail to recognise the level of unmet need within ourselves or others. Not everyone is motivated to move on by money, status, prestige - others need to feel they belong, that they contribute to a greater good and that they can give support to those less fortunate.
First, know thyself
A decision to embark on a journey of self development therefore has to begin with self awareness. What really matters to me? what do I want to achieve in life? Am I trying to emulate someone else, or am I setting myself goals about things because those around me expect me to? Unless the goals and action steps are really and truly fundamentally important to me, I am unlikely to be successful - or else falter after the first few steps. We also need to ask ourselves 'What's holding me back? What are the limiting factors and beliefs in my current mode of thinking and acting? What am I afraid of? These questions can be hard to answer. But if we truly want to grow and develop, we must tackle the underlying factors that may hold us back or derail us. Try to write down what you want - we will be suggesting tangible ways to 'coach yourself' in later posts, but as a first step, identify what matters to you and what you would like to be doing differently. And write it down – it makes it more real!
In a later post, we will look at the human side of change in more detail. Here, we are trying to identify what will be most useful to us as we try to embark on a journey of self development. After self awareness, the next step is to seek feedback so we have the opportunity to test some of our theories about ourselves. Questions like "Do you see me as someone who...." or "I'm trying to get better at..xx What do you think?" can be really helpful. Many of us have experienced the power of a formal, 360 degree feedback tool. Be brave enough to at least ask questions of those around you - choose a combination of people who know you well, from a variety of backgrounds - and thank them for their honesty. Don't just ask your fans - you can often learn more from people who are very different to you.
Where are you heading?
The next step is to set goals. In our view, the simpler, the better. The fewer there are , the more likely you are to achieve them. Start with three to a maximum of five goals and break them down into a series of actions. Ask yourself - 'Where do I want to be in 3/5/10 years time? What do I want to see, hear and feel? Don't limit your horizons - but relate the goals to your current unmet needs and your aspirations. Then address the limiting beliefs and emotions you experience today, and start to tackle them. As Henry Ford said 'If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can't, you can't.
Every journey begins with a single step. Are you ready to take the step and kick start your own personal development?
Are you ready to be the best you can be?
When will you start?
Author: Jan Emerton, November 2013
Sources of reading/support:
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Gallup (Author Tim Roth - available on Amazon)– a positive appraisal of your skills and talents, with a questionnaire you can submit and get feedback for online when you buy the book.
SDI – Strengths Deployment Inventory – www.personalstrengthsuk.com