‘‘He who stops being better, stops being good.’’ – Oliver Cromwell
Personal development refers to actions taken towards improving oneself. It means developing strengths and improving potential. Abraham Maslow says it is ‘… the desire to become more and more what one is; to become everything that one is capable of becoming.’ Anytime you aim to change something about your life, you are personally developing. Every time you decide to take a new course, acquire new skills, improve existing ones, acquire more knowledge or change an attitude or flaw that makes you less than your best, you are taking giant strides in personal development.
To not develop is to die. If we do not aggressively drive our improvement processes, we will become rusty. I think this is what it meant when it is said of professional footballers that they are ‘out of form’. The efforts you put into keeping abreast of new knowledge and expanding your abilities will reap rewards when opportunities arise. Underlying a man’s journey from rejection to acceptance, among other things, is personal development. Private preparation always precedes public manifestation. The valiant, celebrated acts of King David were rehearsed in the quietness of desert roaming. ‘‘You must be a master of what you know and then life will differentiate you.’’ – Leke Alder.
There is a difference between competence and luck. Luck may sometimes win, but competence will always win. Personal development is about developing competence. It is about adding value to yourself. It increases your worth and your market value. Someone made a basic assumption that personal development is tied to personal productivity, which, in turn, is tied to personal fortune.
Personal development is an active process; not a passive one. We grow by understanding that we are much more than we are presently demonstrating, expressing the will to become all we could eventually be, and subjecting ourselves to rigorous processes that we would ordinarily not go through. It’s work. “It is not easy for man to change because he is at the same time the block of granite and the artisan who must, through powerful stroke of the hammer, chisel out of his own substance the masterpiece that he wants to become.” – Alexis Carell. We should set goals; line-up strategies for reaching the goals; put in place a system for measuring progress; determine stages that define milestones along the development path; and set feedback to provide information on changes.
One of my 2012 goals is to improve my public speaking. So I joined Toastmasters International – a 270,000 membership strong world leader in communication and leadership development with 13,000 clubs in 116 countries. Since 1924, more than 4 million people around the world have become more confident speakers in front of an audience because of their participation in Toastmasters. On my very first day, I volunteered for ‘Table Topics’. Table Topics are impromptu speeches. The purpose of the Table Topics section is to help members think on their feet and speak on a given subject for between one and two minutes. It also allows speaking opportunities for those who are not programmed for other roles on the Agenda. There were four speakers. To my delightful surprise, I won. Behold my awards!
Whatever you goal is, please take practical steps to develop in that area. You might need to enrol for another degree. You might need to take short courses. You might need to learn another language. Become more of what you are. All you are is not all you are. All you have done is not all you could do. What you have been is not all you could be. You are not less than the best. Do more. You are more than this.