“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” (James Allen)
On the self – leadership journey it is important to address the importance of personal development. It all starts with being unhappy with the way things are. There is no one alive who can claim to be a finished product. We are all a work-in-progress. Personally, I am not where I used to be, but I am certainly nowhere near where I ought to be in terms of all that I can be. It takes humility and honesty to admit that you are not, “all that” and you are not, “all there”. We have good intentions and sometimes the right motivation but this alone is not good enough. There has to be a willingness to put in the necessary work in order to achieve the goal. It is wishful thinking to imagine that you can change anything of importance without improving yourself. Let’s look at some of the areas that need work.
- “self – talk” (positive or negative things you constantly tell yourself)
- “self – image” (how you see yourself)
- self – motivation (what drives you).
- “self – discipline” (restraint, being strict with yourself)
These are all part of the self-leadership puzzle and when they come together life just becomes beautiful. Sometimes the desire to change and develop may be strong, but what if the obstacles and reality are speaking louder than the desire you have? It is not prudent to proceed without knowing exactly what you are dealing with. Let us identify some obstacles one needs to overcome in order to begin the self- development process:
- Unwillingness to change – “I am set in my ways”
- The power of the past – “It’s hard to say goodbye to yesterday”
- An inflexible mind-set – “I have always done it this way”
- Associations – “I can’t let go of some of my old associations”
- An idle mind – “It is too much work; I have a right to be lazy”
I urge you to conduct a self-assessment on the basis of the five areas mentioned above. There may be more depending on your particular instance. You will begin to notice that you need a shift mostly in the mind. That is the “battlefield” where most wars take place. Where the mind goes, the man follows! There are pre – conceived ideas, attitudes, habits and negative associations which need to go. If you are content, then you might not need to make any changes. If you don’t like what is going on or the results you are obtaining you can always change and it starts with a decision to become someone you have never been before. Albert Einstein said,” We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. “Do not wait for next year to change your thinking. The time to make the changes is NOW!
We live in a time where there is much learning. It is possible to learn all the new skills and even spend a fortune yet yield no results. Acquiring new knowledge without a new mind is akin to putting new wine in old wine – skins. Change your mind!
Settling the mind issue positions you for real transformation. Personal development does not happen by itself. Physical growth is an inevitability; personal growth takes decisive action. If you are not growing, then you cannot achieve greatness. What skills are you going to attain to remain relevant in your chosen field? It has now become easy to be “self – taught, thanks to free online courses of which there are a lot on offer. Ivy league universities such as Harvard, Preston, for example, have resources on their websites which you can easily access. With YouTube, we can learn virtually anything, anytime by spending as little as thirty minutes per day on tutorials. You can read at least one book in a month. It is time to grow!
I remember when we were trying to develop different concepts for an advertising campaign. We seemed to be stuck and no creative ideas were coming to mind. That is when the director told everyone to stop and go online for “stimulus”, that is, exposing ourselves to different concepts in order to stimulate the mind. What does this have to do with self-development? You need the right environment, the right exposure to nurture your quest for improvement. A child who grew up in a poor home, in a poor neighbourhood will never aspire to anything different until by reason of exposure she sees that it is possible to create a different, better reality. Jealously guard your environment; the people, the places and ideas you expose yourself to are important. There are a lot of good inspirational movies out there. If watching movies is not your thing, surround yourself with stories of people who have triumphed over adversity and achieved what you are trying to do. Seek them out, take them out to lunch, download their testimonies from the internet. It will save you time to learn from their mistakes.