I’m often asked by various people how do I get started on my own personal development? What is a process that I could use now and in an ongoing way into the future? What is it that I really need to do about this in my life?
I’ve developed a little formula around the word DEVELOP which I then use to help people answer those questions.
So if we take the word DEVELOP;
The letter ‘D’ stands for ‘describe your current situation’.
The letter ‘E’ stands for ‘evaluate your situation’.
The letter ‘V’ stands for ‘vision’ for your future.
The letter ‘E’ stands for ’embrace’ the different learning activities that you can use.
The letter ‘L’ stands for ‘learning’ or ‘learning activities’ to use to reflect your personal learning style.
The letter ‘O’ stands for ‘Opportunities’ for personal development.
The letter ‘P’ stands for ‘plan to make those opportunities a reality.
So let’s take an example.
Let’s go back to the start of the process. That is to describe your current situation.
Let’s say that you’re a team member in a group of people and you’ve worked with that group for the last three years. You know the job technically extremely well you’ve got very good knowledge and skills in the particular area you work in. You’re well-organized, you manage your time well and you are a very efficient individual within the team. That’s where you are at the moment.
Then step two, evaluate what is it that you do well what is it that you perhaps find a challenge. What are your talents and strengths, these are personal gifts that you love using and want to grow. What is it that you feel that you need to be focusing on when it comes to acquiring some new talents and skills going forward, in your longer-term aspirations. So maybe you come to the decision that you’re actually very good at working as an individual, however you want to progress in the area of influencing and leading others perhaps as a team leader, and that this would be an area of skill that you would like to develop.
But that’s not good enough. You now need to get a more concrete vision, the third step of the process. Describe what you would be doing in let’s say one or two years time, and if it’s that you want to be a team leader picture yourself being a team leader in a particular team within a particular part of the organization. Picture yourself at the start of the day distributing worked the team members, overseeing them, delegating work to them, coaching them, training them, motivating them and undertaking all of those activities that would be required of a team leader.
Picture yourself doing these things and get a very strong picture in your mind. You will then be drawn towards this concrete vision. Now think about what you need to do to obtain the knowledge and skills you need to become and effective team leader. For example, you need to learn influencing skills, you need to learn a team leadership process, you need to learn delegation & motivation skills etc. Ask yourself how can I acquire these skills? First look within your organisation. Are there courses that you can attend, videos that you could watch, articles or blogs you can read or coaching you can acquire. Seek out those learning methods which most suit your personal learning style. Also, look outside of work perhaps in some club or society or community that you belong to where you can take on these skill areas and give them a go. It might be that you would like to see others doing it and copy them and that might mean that you can spend some time alongside an existing team leader, for example, growing your knowledge and skills.
The next step is to look for opportunities to use these learning activities, aligned with your learning style, and begin to think of what those opportunities might be and how you could avail yourself of them. It may be that the opportunity exists for you to shadow an existing team leader for maybe one day a week or a half day a week or over a number of weeks or months to see what they do, how they do it and begin to acquire the necessary insights to take on that role yourself.
Finally, the last step is to plan your best approach to fulfilling those learning activities. Create a 12 month plan and review it annually.
So that’s the DEVELOP process that I suggest and from experience I have found it to be a very simple reminder of the basics to achieve personal development.