Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

5 Development Ideas for 2012

In the spirit of new year resolutions, which I generally don’t care much about (why wait, even if it’s just another hour, right?), I want to trigger you with 5 suggestions for accelerating your development, regardless of your station in life, your job title, or your field of expertise.

1. Actively benefit from the wisdom of thought leaders – the ones that provide you with new perspectives and ideas.  Watch their webinars, read their books and articles. Listen to TED talks and, not to forget, draw from people around you and contemplate on their wisdom, attitudes, choices, and coping strategies. Every time you indulge in your webinar, book, talk etc. have a small notebook with you and jot down some thoughts, quotes, actions and other reflections inspired by what you just read or heard. Some of my clients have called this little booklet their ‘Business bible’, others their ‘Growth book’ or their ‘Little green book of wisdom’. Whatever your title, make it personal, actionable, and inspiring.

2. Actively use what you’ve experienced and learned in other walks of life and in previous careers and settings to enrich and benefit your present career and setting. I find it amazing how many practical insights and effective strategies and wisdom is lost merely because people do not know how to translate from one experience or setting to another. I recently met with a colleague who asked me about my strategy when hitting golf balls. Now, you have to know this was my first encounter with golf balls ever, and it was part of an introduction to his unique method of helping his clients gain insight into their attitudes, habits, and strategies while playing golf. My immediate response was that I focused intensely on the little round hole that I was supposed to get the ball to roll into. I was not worried about missing it. I was not focused on the route the ball had to go before reaching its goal. I was merely focused on the hole and on my ball smoothly and confidently rolling towards it. And I told him this was something I had picked up when I was learning how to ride a motorcycle. When learning to ride an obstacle course on a bike, the main mistake of riders is that they focus on avoiding the obstacles, which focuses their attention to the very thing they’re trying to avoid - the obstacles - and so they run into them. And so did I the first time. When I was told to focus my attention on the smooth, curved, path around the obstacles, and on achieving my goal of touching the space in between the obstacles, I never ran into the obstacles again. The main lesson: What do you focus on? On avoiding things or on accomplishing things? Do you focus on the black background or on the colored foreground? So my advice: Take experiences and lessons-learned from your volunteer jobs, your times at college, your job as a soccer coach with one of your children or your experiences as a lay photographer and translate them to your world of business or whatever setting can use some inspiration and wise lessons. 

3. Go back to school. Take a class or a course and immerse yourself in new learning. This keeps your mind sharp and open to new and different ideas and experiences. It’s called continuing education and is an old and very effective way to keep moving and developing.

4. Seek someone you trust and that you can learn from. This, of course, doesn’t always have to be a paid professional, but whoever it is, ask them to be your coach or your mentor. It’s not so much new insights and tools, but new ways of hearing about them, of a possibly unique way of combining them, of renewing your interest in them and of learning how to apply them to your particular person and situation. It’s about forming a trusting and longer term relationship with someone who has your development as his or her interest. Someone who does not shy away from confrontations and provocations and who knows that this, at times, is the only or the best way to get through to you – to get you moving.

5. Take charge of your health. As author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey writes in his book Spark, the transformative effects of exercise on the brain and on general health are huge. Exercise can help you beat stress, lift your mood, decrease memory loss, sharpen your intellect – it helps you function better overall, simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat. The evidence is undeniable: exercise physically remodels your brain for peak performance and is your best defense against things ranging from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer's. The message is loud and clear: get in shape, not just as a resolution for the first month of the new year, but as a resolution that runs much deeper. One that stimulates you to live, think, and choose healthy.

As Marshall Goldsmith says, one of the biggest regrets old people have with their lives is not their failures. It is that they didn’t at least try to pursue their goals. Don’t become one of those people. Pursue your goals and learn to pursue them in different ways, with new eyes and means, while developing yourself continuously.

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