Improve performance in any endeavour with these self development strategies.
Allow for the natural processes of the brain to make self development strategies work.
Know-how is no use at all when your heart chooses a different direction to your head. Like falling in love, unconscious programming and neural chemical response, tend to dictate what we actually do.
Raising your standards is easy to contemplate yet self-discipline is hard to master. It is energy related. We have a limited capacity to overrule the yearnings of our mind and body.
Can people change themselves?
Changes in behavioural response to what happens depend on changing the way we think; our beliefs and attitudes; even our personality and character. It follows that changing our natural behaviour means changing who we are.
Perhaps you began reading this article because there is some aspect of your behaviour that you want to improve, change or eliminate. The very first step is being clear about what you want to change and how you want to change it.
Strategies for Self Development
Examining motives and deciding how to measure success has a huge impact on change. Tony Robbins devotes several chapters to motivating change in his book ‘Awaken the Giant Within’. Read the book, it is worth the effort.
This is my one-sentence version of Robins advice on self development strategies: Deliberately and, almost literally, scratch out the memory of what you want to move away from then, create a vividly imagined experience of what you want to move towards.
The mechanics of personal change is not the central theme for this article. Here I want to focus on the value of getting help from others.
Knowing that you want to change is rarely enough motivation. I have written about keeping self-promises before and left out one of the top self development strategies for effecting personal change. The support of other people.
My Running Story
Perhaps we have a shared experience. Imagine or remember being persuaded to enter your first half marathon. I was keen. I planned to put in regular training. I had plenty of time. The 1982 High Wycombe event was three months in the future. If you don’t run imagine how lonely it can be, pounding the pavement for mile after mile, on your own.
I didn’t do the training.
I entered the race, exhausted myself in the first three miles, and then hobbled around the remaining ten.
Not being one to give up easily (because of an obstinate streak), I entered two more half marathons with similarly appalling results. It wasn’t until 1986 in Southampton that I put in sufficient training to run a respectable race.
The difference was support.
At Southampton, two neighbours were interested in participating. We prepared together. Some days I did not want to run. A long or stressful day at work would put me off. Then there would be a knock at the door and my neighbours would be waiting expectantly, already in their running gear.
That is what made the difference for me.
Either they would drag me out or I would call on them. Sometimes I would be fired with enthusiasm but just as often it would be an obligation that drove me. As we persevered with our training, all through the wet and windy winter of 1985/6, a key aspect of the exercise kept us going. It wasn’t so much the race we had entered but striving to beat the time it took to run our various training routes.
We had two main routes, one about seven miles and another about three miles.
On Sundays, we would run five miles to a family pub. Wives and children would meet us there.
Each route would have a target time that acted on us, spurring us on to try and better it.
Find others who want to achieve similar things and share the journey. Meet and speak to discuss self development strategies and share experiences. Provide support for others so that they can provide support for you.
Support for Change
In a business environment, having support to help with personal change makes a huge difference.
This principle is well leveraged by some employers. Managers run one-to-one meetings to evaluate progress and agree on short-term business goals and objectives.
By augmenting this process with coaching and mentoring they help team members develop and increase productivity.
Some companies set up coaching and mentoring as separate functions. Regular review meetings are part of the culture and integrate with a carefully designed formal appraisal system.
Communication across, up and down the organisation is positively facilitated. At the risk of choking you on an overused cliché, some companies live the nirvana of a ‘Learning Organisation’.
Sadly the reality is somewhat different for most people. Asking a manager for objective feedback may not yield any useful insights.
Some managers will refrain from saying what they really think for fear of damaging rapport or causing antagonism. Others will deliver superficial observations and find it difficult to explain what they mean.
Taking the Initiative
Seeking honest feedback demands courage and patience. It makes one feel vulnerable and opens the possibility of others taking advantage.
If a manager is reluctant to speak his thoughts you will need to reassure him or her that any criticism will be listened to without protest or argument.
The most vital element in making personal behavioural changes is honest, non-judgmental feedback. We need to know how others perceive us to establish a baseline and assess our progress.
In training for the half marathon, the stopwatch was completely impersonal and factual.
People are often very sensitive about giving and receiving criticism. Getting the feedback you want and need may first involve convincing the giver that you won’t react emotionally.
A supportive environment and objective, non-judgmental feedback are powerful allies in effecting positive personal change.
There is no easy escape from the need to rely on other people, so include coaching and mentoring in your self development strategies. Take Emerson’s advice, "Hitch your wagon to a star."
Article by Clive Miller
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