Personal development : Part 1 – The Pillars

Most people don’t know where to start when it comes to their own personal development.  I’ve always counted myself among those people.

I’ve blogged about not knowing what direction I wanted to take in life during my school days, my brief stint at college and onwards right through my career.  I never knew what I wanted to do, never mind how I was supposed to do it.

These days as a slightly older and wiser inhabitant of the planet I’ve got a slightly better handle on things, but it’s taken me a while and there’s still part of me that doesn’t know what I want to do when I grow up!

One thing I found useful, with the benefit of hindsight, was a recent exercise I did to take a step back and look at all the things that have played a part in my personal and professional development – the things that have got me where I am today.  The result is this pillar diagram.

First and foremost, over and above everything else is the concept of ownership.  YOU own your personal and professional development and only you.  You may look to others for support and you will encounter many tools and mechanisms to help you along the way, but no one will do this for you.  This is the fundamental concept to grasp.  I’ve known many people throughout my career who have sat waiting for someone to develop them, who have complained because no one has given them the opportunity to develop.  If it doesn’t come to you, go and grab it!  Make opportunity happen.  If you never take ownership for your own development then it will never happen.

To the left are the ‘softer’ pillars, the intangible things that will have a huge impact on you and help you get to where you want to be.  

To the right are the more tangible pillars that will develop you, things that will validate your expertise and on which you can rely to move your career along.

Underpinning all of this are some fundamentals that will guide you along the development journey like feedback, regular 1-2-1’s and developing a plan for yourself as you go along the way.

In the centre of the pillars is you, kept grounded and centred by your personal and professional support network of colleagues, friends and family.

All of these things added together are the pillars which I have found make me who I am today and propelled my career so far.  

You don’t need them all to succeed, but you will find that if you have a balance of the left and the right hand pillars, you have a solid foundation, a great support network and you own your development, you will go far – I guarantee it.

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