Personal development can be defined as a way for people to assess the skills and qualities they currently have, to consider what they want to achieve in their life, and to set goals and strategies to maximise their potential. It involves developing skills and behaviours which support your current role and your future aspirations, stretching and extending your abilities.
Personal development is an ongoing process which continues throughout life. As Henry Ford said:
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
Whatever the truth of Ford’s recipe for eternal youth, life-long learning through personal development is a necessary part of any manager’s job. Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell (2007) emphasise that what they call self-development is something for which we all need to take individual responsibility:
Self-development is personal development, with the person taking primary responsibility for their own learning and for choosing the means to achieve this. Ultimately, it is about increasing your capacity and willingness to take control over and be responsible for events.
They go on to say that self-development can mean many things:
- developing specific qualities and skills
- improving your performance in your existing job
- advancing your full potential as a person.
Take a few minutes to consider how you can fit personal development in, amidst all the other demands placed on your time.
Have a go at answering the following assessment questions developed by Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell in their book called “A Manager’s Guide to Self Development”.
1. How much time do you spend reading in your field each week?
2. How much time do you spend looking at professional websites, electronic noticeboards, etc.?
3. How would you describe any reading that you do in relation to these areas – do you scan the material or take the time to absorb it?
4. Which journals, newsletters, electronic conferences, etc. do you use regularly in your field?
5. Which journals, newsletters, electronic conferences, etc. are available that you don’t use?
6. Do you ever make use of training packages such as manuals, interactive videos, online learning or web-based resources?
7. Do you belong to any professional bodies or associations, or use continuous professional development support provided by them?
8. What courses and/or conferences have you attended in the last year?
9. Have you made any professional visits in the last year?
10. What other ways of developing your professional knowledge have you used in the last year?
Now look back over your answers to these questions.
- What is the overall picture you get from this?
- Does it suggest that personal development is being pushed to the bottom of your to-do list or is this something that’s already being effectively integrated into your life?
Keeping up to date can easily get neglected, as the effects of failing to do this, tends to be cumulative – something that doesn’t have an immediate impact and only comes to light when you start to realise that your skills and knowledge has become outdated. This is a trap that you definitely want to avoid falling into!
Further Reading on Personal Development
In addition to this blog post “Personal Development Planning”, you may find the following blog posts useful by The Eventus Recruitment Group:
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