By Myles Leva
Last Updated: April 25, 2023
Personal development is often mentioned in the context of development for leaders.
Well, we’re all leaders in one way or another, at one time or another. So it’s essentially a universal aspect of career success, regardless of your job.
We went over the 7 key factors in personal development in a previous article you can read here.
This time around, let’s look into how you can actually implement a plan for personal development.
These are the steps you need to start an action plan improving in each facet of personal development.
People often have difficulty starting to understand how people skills work.
It’s a simple topic, but it takes some focus to become better at working with others.
To keep it simple, practice with a few focused steps:
“Activity” is the key word here; you need to push these concerns to the front of your mind.
For example, getting in the habit of listening to the entirety of what people are saying and trying to understand their perspective before you even begin to respond.
Empathy is another intuitive skill that sometimes needs some practice.
Active empathizing means always asking how others feel and why. You don’t need to physically put yourself in their shoes to get it. But you need to actively focus on how exactly you would react if you were the other person, with their exact experiences. Active listening makes this second task much easier.
Lastly, take some time to actively think about your interactions with others and your natural emotional responses. Always look for new insights on how you could improve.
Confidence is necessary to maintain positive beliefs about yourself that enable you to perform at your best consistently.
Practice positive self-talk in all of the areas that matter in your work and personal life. Not only follow your own beliefs, but allow yourself to feel better for doing so.
The other main aspects of confidence are grooming and attire and risk-taking.
Taking care of your appearance can help make you feel more confident. But the most important and long-term solution is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new responsibilities. Challenging yourself enables you to grow, and you become more confident for doing so.
Active listening goes both ways.
But you also need to listen to yourself and think about how it looks from other peoples’ perspectives.
Practice gratitude regularly, and always try to find value in others’ work and other areas of life. Focus on the positives of other people and appreciate all the good things in your life. Likewise, try to focus more on solutions than on the problems that call for them.
Read more, then write more.
This one is simple to start. Build a reading list based on what interests or is important to you. Read books, articles, and other publications.
Start practicing your writing, too. Set a time to write a journal, or anything else, really. Ask others for feedback on your writing and get ongoing feedback to track your progress over time.
It’s not always the strongest that survive.
Adaptability is important because no matter what kind of life you lead, change is inevitable. So, step one is to accept that and embrace change when it inevitably comes.
Challenge yourself to constantly learn and master new skills. In the age of AI, this will most likely just become more important. Take new courses if you need to, and stay flexible. There are often multiple feasible ways of doing something.
Integrity is about being honest with yourself. So, always tell yourself the truth, especially when it hurts to.
Apart from self-honesty, be honest to others. Only make promises that you can and will keep. If you make a mistake, accept accountability and just try to be better next time.
All of the above adds up to the foundations for good leadership.
Lead by example, even if you aren’t a leader right now, strictly speaking. Practice clear communication and be proactive about it. Learn how to deal with people and delegate tasks.
While we didn’t touch on it last time, there is definitely a physical element to personal development.
Emotional and physical health are closely connected.
The small things in life add up over time.
If you lack in any of these three areas, all other personal development becomes harder. It’s hard to improve in attitude when you’re constantly sleep-deprived. So, sleep at least 7 hours each night, eat better food, and start improving your exercise routines over time.
Personal development is a lifelong journey, just like a career.
But the two go hand in hand in most of the ways that count. If you struggle with your personal development, career success is harder to attain.
The highest levels of career success put high demands on you, and your personal development skills determine how prepared you are to deal with them.
Personal development skills aren’t the most difficult skills to grasp. But improving them takes consistency.
One of the key personal development skills, leadership, may require more help than the rest. You can practice leadership soft skills, but some level of training may be required if strong leadership demands are in your near future.