They say that the two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you discovered why you were born. Do you know both?
If so you are a very lucky person. Most of us cannot identify the second of the two dates.
Why is this moment of truth so important to us? Because all living creatures be we humans, animals, birds or other species, were created for personal (individual) development.
I do not need to substantiate this simple truth. We all see in the animal world the desire of the newborn to survive, to gain mobility, to become aware of danger, and then develop into young adults.
Their personal growth aspiration, instinctively, is to become strong, self-sufficient adults, capable of living a secure life within a wider group of peers and seniors.
In their process of self-development, they will learn the culture and values of the group, they will come to realise their own strengths and weaknesses, they will go astray, they will be brought back into line and they will learn how to grow old and eventually die. All forms of life follow this pattern of ‘personal’ development and to an extent we as humans do. Why to an extent? Well think about it for a moment.
What is happening in the animal kingdom is a gradual transition through three levels of dependence. The same is true of human beings.
The first is ‘dependent on others’. In this phase, the early years, the newborn infant is carefully fed, nurtured and protected by its parents. It cannot survive on its own.
The second level is ‘independent’ in which over a number of years the individual learns to stand on their own feet, fend for themselves, fight their corner and to compete for longer term survival. They operate as capable and confident individuals.
The third level is ‘interdependency’. In this phase the individual learns that they can no longer succeed on their own. They will need the help of others and they will need to offer their help to others. They will need to build reciprocal relationships with others to create win/win outcomes. They need to learn to be less competitive and more collaborative. They need to be secure in themselves but also to put their trust in others.
This third level is rarely achieved by us humans. At this level, the individual leads without authority but with real influence. They have in a sense become transformed into an entirely new way of succeeding.
Why have I dwelt on this personal development journey in this way? Quite simply because generally as human beings we can pass through the first two levels. There are comparatively few that get stuck in level one ‘dependency’ and it’s a tragedy to see these people not being able to function as adults, but stuck with the mentality of a child.
However, the move from ‘independent’ to ‘interdependent’, it seems to me that few achieve. They get two thirds of their way through their personal development journey but then fail to fully realise their potential. They think that by working harder at their independent way of working they will continue to succeed. They push their authority to the limits. They can, even, worse, bully and cajole to get their way. The result is that contempt, from others, replaces their respect for the person and when this happens their future personal development plans only fail them.
Readers of this article may be disappointed that I have not recommended a fail-safe way of achieving personal development. It is just that I have learnt over my last thirty five years in the area of people development that there are many, many personal development types of development plans and activities. Most of them are well thought through, structured and implemented. I could add a host of ideas on improving these personal development plans. Others may have even better ideas!
The fact is that I have found my way through life in a rather unplanned and unstructured way. My parents wanted me to go into the Navy but I failed the selection process. I wandered into banking which I quite liked. But I only found my true vocation, my calling, when asked to become a trainer at the bank’s training centre. I had already learned to speak in public with the help of the organisation Toastmasters International. But when I discovered my talents and natural gifts lay in training I knew my vocation and went for it.
That vocation became the rock-solid foundation of my personal development plans and activities. Over my extensive career in training and development. I have been deeply privileged to enjoy both work and play at the same time.
The key to successful personal development is the simple truth that people get better at what they are naturally gifted at. The most successful people identify their unique gifts, talents and strengths and get better and better at using them. They put others around them with strengths and gifts they don’t possess but recognise are key to their success.
When I stumbled on this truth my self-motivation to develop increased 100 times or thereabouts! I still keep developing my talents and gifts and love every minute of it. If only others could experience the same, and I believe they can. I am now deeply committed to operating at level three, that of ‘interdependency’ in my dealings with others both in and out of work.
It is a real challenge because it requires a high level of critical judgement and emotional intelligence mostly with insufficient information to make the right decisions. But my current personal development plans focus on one simple question; ‘How can personal development truly become my reason for living?’
And that includes personal development in my spiritual life, in the area of professional knowledge and skills, in my health and wellbeing, and in all my dealings with others.
I accept that I will never fulfil all of my personal development capabilities but do you know what, I am having a darn good try, even at my age! Why don’t you join me? Discover that ‘Personal Development is the only reason for living.’
To find out more about Jeremy’s experience and expertise, view his LinkedIn profile.