I came across the above quote listening to a podcast recently and it immediately struck a chord, as I hope it has with you just now. I’ve reflected on this and read around the area since and then felt the need to share this with you here.
In our increasingly busy and stressful working lives we rarely get a chance to step back and consider ourselves. All our effort is focused on the customer, the client, the product or the company. We falsely believe that all this effort will elevate us up the hierarchies and give us the success we crave yet I want you to ask yourselves now, is that working for you? Unfortunately what we tend to see is a survivorship bias, there are a few noted people who have dug in and grinded their way up the corporate ladders to great success. What we don’t see is the many more individuals that have been chewed up and spat out along the way.
Now I’m not saying that we all jack in our jobs and retreat to a homestead to live the goodlife somewhere (although that is increasingly tempting for me!), all I’m suggesting is that we take a step back and consider ourselves a little more. We all try to fix our issues or reach success by working harder, what I’m suggesting is that we work smarter too.
What Jim Rohn is saying with this quote is that your level of personal development is the ceiling for your level of success. Raise the ceiling and we can raise the potential for successes, in all aspects of our life. If we invest time and effort in ourselves we become better workers and, far more importantly, better people. This is a combination that really tips the odds in your favour.
Whilst this sounds great and we probably all have a rough idea of what personal development might look like we need actionable points. To make life simpler I’ve therefore listed my favourite personal development activities below. I’m not saying you have to do them all, just start with 1 or 2 and start to notice the effects they have.
- Exercise: This may be blindly obvious and hopefully all the readers of this blog are doing something in this direction already but it is so important it is worth repeating. A healthy body helps equal a healthy mind. Exercise not only improves how you look and feel but, crucially, how you think. I therefore advise doing something active every day. That may just be a short walk or some yoga or it could be a sport or a weights session. Whichever flavour you prefer just do it and mix it up a little.
- Meditate: This is a practice that, thankfully, has moved from the ‘woo woo’ into the mainstream and rightfully so. It doesn’t matter what flavour you choose, having a daily meditative practice will reap wonders for your creativity, clarity and wider mental health. If Mindfulness is your thing then Headspace is the place to start. If you are a little more reticent then start with box breathing as your gateway drug. There are apps available for both of them.
- Read: There are many quotes out there which talk about how you are the books you read and the people you surround yourself with. I buy into this. At the heart of personal development is exposing yourself to new ways of thinking and books are the easiest way to do this. Aim to read a book a month to start with and I promise you your thinking will have dramatically transformed in a years time. If you are short of ideas for places to start check out the resources tab above for some of my picks.
- Get a coach: When was the last time you actually spoke to someone else about your personal development? Chances are it was a cursory box ticking exercise at your latest work performance review. To really dig into your development you need to be pushed, questioned and challenged, the easiest way to do this is to be coached. Whether it be hiring a formal executive coach, accessing counselling services or just starting an informal mentoring arrangement there are plenty of options available for all personalities and wallet sizes. I offer performance coaching as part of my services so get in touch if interested.
- Upgrade your lifestyle: I bang on about it enough on this blog for some of it hopefully to have sunk in by now but I’ll say it again. Your lifestyle has a massive impact on your performance. Ignoring your lifestyle is ignoring potential personal development. Simple things such as eating less carbs, sleeping 8hrs a night and having a relaxation practice can jump start stalled progress and get ylu feeling like a different person. Don’t neglect these factors.
- Find a hobby: There is a really interesting theory of resilience that shows that the more ‘hats’ you wear, i.e. the more aspects to your personality there are, the more resilient you will be. I like this theory as it is so actionable, finding a hobby and making it part of a regular routine can give you a real boost in resilience, making it easier for you to absorb the tougher times and come back fighting. Developing resilience is personal development so have a think about what you really enjoy doing away from work and start doing more of it. This could be anything from joining a sports team to a book club. All that matters is that it isn’t work.
- Study: This is perhaps the most obvious form of personal development but it is worth stating. Upskilling whether through formal degree programs or via internships or evening classes is a great way to develop transferable skills and teach yourself the discipline of time management and efficiency.
- Teach: There is no better way of fully understanding a topic than by teaching others about it. I’m not suggesting that everyone applies for a PGCE but instead to consider other ways that you can teach or coach in day to day life. You could start mentoring someone at work, take on an intern, write a blog, volunteer at social clubs or become a subject matter expert. All things that require little commitment but that challenge you to take a step back and view your work from a new perspective. It will teach you more than you pass on.
If you have any other methods of personal development then I’d love to hear them. I hope the above have given you some jumping off points to get started and start raising your ceiling for success.