Personal Development – whose job is it anyway?

I have worked in learning and development for a pretty long time (about 15 year’s) and would you believe this is my first time writing a blog. I want to use this first blog to talk about personal development, what it means to me, who should own it and share my recent experience spending time on ME.

Having spent so much of my career working in some way on developing others, either teams I have led or through the learning solutions I or my teams have been responsible for, I like many others in seem to forget about ME. The easier thing by far when you are responsible for leading others is to focus on the team’s performance, behaviour, attitude, knowledge and skill. Some do this by ‘managing’ or ‘leading’ performance from a distance, some do this with a really hands on approach by ‘doing the do’ or perhaps love to coach. I regard myself as the latter and love to spend my time with my team either by helping them to develop or my getting my hands dirty (forgive the phrase) and doing the do myself. I am not saying for a second that either approach is wrong or right, or even that they are the only 2 ways to lead, in fact I believe that the situation and team should inform the correct leadership style. Anyway I digress as the point I want to make here or the revelation I have had is that to be a great leader, or even to be the best I can be, it all starts with ME and being the best version of ME that I can. Not my leadership style, not the things I can do, or know how to do, not even my performance at a moment in time – it starts with ME and what I stand for. This means two things for me;

1.      If you are a leader you can only be the best leader you are capable of being if you first focus on being the best version of yourself

2.      I am the only one who is responsible to develop myself, no one else.

Ok so this doesn’t sound like rocket science and for some (just like me) it seems like something that is far easier said than done. It sounds like that because it is like that, to start with focussing on yourself is really tough and by focus on yourself I mean on why you are here, what got you to where you are today, what you stand for, what do you want to achieve and how are you going to do it. That’s all before you actually do something about it. Here’s the thing though – life is going to happen whether you like it or not so the only choice we have to make is can we take control or just let circumstance and chance (with a sprinkle of hard work I am sure) dictate the future. So I have decided that I can’t ‘control’ the future but I can design my plan that WILL determine the path I take and though the journey may contain surprises the end can be what I want it to be.

How have I stumbled across this revelation I hear you ask. I have been extremely lucky to experience some time out, some time to focus on me thanks to Telefonica. To discover some of what has brought me to where I am today, really find out all about my moral compass (yes I found out I actually have one), what are my purpose, values and vision before beginning to create the first development plan for me that actually came from ME, not what I believe my employer or industry wants from me. Attending the Telefonica Universitas for a week on a course called ‘Leading Self’ has given me the start of what for me can be life changing, and I don’t use that term lightly.

I want to end my first blog by sharing that I really don’t think it has to take a facilitated experience such as the one I have been through to do this. I believe truly that we all have the capacity to focus on ourselves if we can just start with discovering why we are here and what it is we stand for. I include a link below to a video that most people have seen as its very old and one I have seen more times than I care to mention. It’s the ‘Start With Why’ original TED talk from Simon Sinek and if you are anything like me you will get so much out of it if you watch it again but when he talks about great companies, great organisations replace those words with ME or I. Find your why, find your purpose and you can truly own your own personal development.

Simon Sinek TED:

By Andy Scrase

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