Personal Development, The Key To Life And Professional Success
We’ve all dealt with one at some point. That bitter, miserable person who takes delight in criticising you or your circumstances.
It sounds something like this:
“You want to start a business! What experience do you have? Nah, that will never work. Just stay where you are.”
If you’ve heard these words before or do in the future, don’t listen and pay no attention to the person directing this vile at you.
The way these people act is a reflection on them, not you. Chances are they live their life through regret and missed opportunity. Anyone who wants to achieve pose a threat to them because they never did.
I’m sure Einstein, Eddison and Ford heard similar disparaging words back in their day. And the words probably reverberated louder each time they failed.
Apart from being geniuses in their field, I believe inventors like this have an extra quality that keeps propelling them forward no matter the situation.
When you started your small business you joined them. You’ve alienated yourself from a large portion of society – the naysayers. That’s a good thing.
If you break it down, there’s really only two types of people.
- The naysayer: has never wanted to improve their lot in life and it causes later feelings of regret and anger.
- The personal developer: always works towards improving their lot in life and seeks out opportunities to do so.
What is personal development?
I’m not going to get all Tony Robbins ‘rha rha’ on you. While I respect his work and can see the value in it, it’s a bit too instant gratification for me. I favour approaches that address core issues, not done in pent-up stadiums to large groups of people collectively.
I’m not one to rely on Wikipedia as an accurate source, but the opening line of its page entry on personal development is as good as can be found.
“Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations”.
It makes sense that if you want to grow, improve and achieve what you want to, that it requires one to develop themselves, otherwise you stagnate.
Here’s the kicker. If you want to embark on a journey of personal improvement, prepare yourself, as its a ride that never ends. It’s a lifelong process. It’s not like you hit retirement age and suddenly claim you’ve achieved your personal development milestones.
I know a business mentor who, at 74, is still more active at developing himself daily than people a third of his age. In essence, he has nothing more to achieve having built up (and sold) a franchise business in Western Australia. Yet, he’s still committed to getting up at 4.30 am each morning to spend time developing areas of his life he believes need work.
How personal development is beneficial in life and business
The pressures a small business owner faces are arguably some of the toughest. One of my clients would constantly complain that his wife wasn’t offering the support he needed.
They would bicker about money and whether or not his business idea would ever produce what he hoped it would.
My client’s mindset was that his wife was placing so my pressure on him, it didn’t allow for him to focus on the job at hand and it was resulting in missed business opportunities. His wife would always press him for more information (in a desperate attempt to keep him accountable).
They came to an impasse. It wasn’t positive for either party.
My role goes beyond just helping clients in their business and I could see he (and his wife) needed help in their personal relationship with each other. In this case I only dealt with my client but through advice I gave him, he reported back to me that their relationship had progressed to a much more positive place.
While helping my client deal with this issue we were able to realise that his wife simply wanted more information on his business because she was invested in his success. She wasn’t asking questions to apply pressure, more trying to offer help. My client wasn’t able to communicate with her about what he was going through within the course of his work and as a result she felt left out.
It wasn’t a case of not supporting each other, it was a case of not communicating.
Now husband and wife have short weekly meetings (in an unofficial capacity) where both parties seek to work together and to achieve his (and now her) goals.
That’s personal development done right.
The personal development that changed my life
In my previous blog, I mentioned I’m prone to feelings of anxiety and limiting beliefs. I know this is counterproductive to my life and business, so here’s what I do to combat these issues and develop myself.
Remain committed to learning and being open: to be honest, after my early success with my cycling wear business I got arrogant. I wrongly assumed I knew everything and hence couldn’t be taught much. Life is a great leveler and I found out the hard way. After going through an unexpected divorce and getting myself into $200,000 worth of debt, I realised my arrogance was misplaced and foolish. From this point I knew I had to be open to learning new things and not assume I was the fountain of all knowledge – for mid 20’s kid that’s not an easy lesson to learn.
Upskill on what I don’t know: shock, horror, I don’t know it all and I never will but that doesn’t stop me increasing the knowledge I don’t have. I may never be accepted into MENSA, but I want to know that I’ve been willing to at least try to upskill in areas of general knowledge, health and mindset, smart business practices etc. If I fall short in achieving a task I make sure the subject is added to a list of topics I want to upskill in.
Have a positive impact on those around me: when I first started in business I didn’t care what happened to the people associated with me, it was entirely about my success. Through experience and maturity I’ve learnt that this is not the person I want to be. Now a major driver for me personality and of course professionally is the impact I have on others. Each day I dedicate time to ensuring those around me can benefit from my attitude and what I can offer. I believe that the more I can positively impact others, the more goodwill I will receive in return.
Books that have inspired and focused me
Part of developing is consuming material that adds value. I’m an avid ‘reader’ of audio books, which are great when I’m on the move. Some that have inspired and taught me are:
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is an astonishing life story and reveals that most of us only tap into 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this the 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin explains the SEAL leadership concepts crucial to accomplishing the most difficult missions in combat and how to apply them to any group, team, or organization.
Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn contains the foundational principles that anyone can learn to achieve success in both business and in life—the very best of Jim Rohn’s philosophies!
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy teaches you how to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time.
Ultimately it needs to be you who wants to develop yourself beyond where you currently are. With no disrespect, if you’re happy where you are and don’t want to achieve more or grow then no amount of advice or ideas can help you.
Like with everything, success favours those who try and keep going when times are tough. This can only be done if you commit to personal development. At times if will be confronting in nature, but the long term rewards are worth the initial discomfort.
Personal development is a lifelong process you need to consistently operate in, if not you’ll find yourself at some point belittling others with more energy and dreams.
Don’t become one of the naysayer filled with resentment of their failures – commit to personal development.