Remember back when you were a child . . . You would spend all day playing, doing things that you loved to do. Imagination took you to places your dreams said you should go.
Creativity was limitless, as you saw yourself being who you wanted to be, not what someone told you to become. You were naturally curious, inquisitive, and determined to create your own reality.
You were enjoying the process of you being you.
Personal Development Planning is an often overlooked, yet potentially powerful resource when designing a return to the spirit of that process.
Dreams remain the fuel that can power your future. Business Objectives are no longer obstacles that inhibit personal development but instead guide alignment of authentic intentions with desired results.
Amazing levels of performance can be realized through the simple practice of tapping into your inner drive and passion.
The following three steps enliven clarity within your Personal Development efforts to ensure who you are remains the focal point of what you can achieve.
Step #1: Vital Behaviors
Vitality fills us with the capacity to learn, grow, and live life to the fullest.
Vital Behaviors are those considered most necessary or critical to sustaining life. Within a world of performance measurement, these behaviors translate as abilities, aspects of Personal Performance that most directly influence Professional Results.
Identify your Vital Behaviors at the beginning of the Personal Development Plan (PDP) process by asking:
What aspect of my Personal Performance, if strengthened or improved, will most directly influence my Professional Results or influence the behavior of others?
This is your opportunity to simplify what matters most in your position, then use that filtered awareness as a Growth Compass to target development objectives and activities.
You’ve been assigned as the Leader of a team or project.
An Aspect of Leadership that will contribute to your overall success is Managing Work of Others (you can’t do everything yourself).
Building a PDP around Managing Work of Others is too broad in scope to have genuine impact. Delegation and Accountability can be identified as two sub-Aspects of Leadership that would promote successful performance.
You choose Delegation and determine that Communication plays a major role in the assignment of specific duties and authorities.
Consider the methods of Communication involved in delegating work assignments: Written and Verbal. Which of these will most directly enable team members to receive and comprehend instruction, then perform tasks with the desired result?
Congratulations! Your response is your first Vital Behavior.
Step #2: Strengths
What is something you’re really good at and that you love to do?
Your Strengths represent an idealistic vision of instinctive ability paired with an inherent desire to perform, with the capacity for incredible levels of performance and achievement.
They may, however, require refinement when preparing for positions of increasing scope or authority. Or, you may have multiple strengths that influence performance from different perspectives, begging a return to Step #1 and the question: Which is considered most Vital?
Such was a chapter within the Tall Tim Story . . .
I have always been a Storyteller, with writing my preferred method of expression.
Considered an early strength through high school, my career path aligned with a different set of values and aspirations. Written dialogue became a tool in which to communicate standards of procedure, night orders, recipes, instructions, and the occasional award recommendation.
Very concise, precise, and professional in nature.
The spark returned while assigned to a Regional position within the Learning Organization. Searching for innovative methods to communicate and inspire, I began using Outlook Groups within my scope as an impromptu, built-in email community.
Each distribution of the Monthly Calendar would feature selected thoughts on service, performance, culture, etc. I expanded to occasional offerings inspired by current events, movies, articles, etc.
This spirit carried over into my return to a Property-based position, with the added responsibility for a Monthly Newsletter and production of local training documents. It was heaven.
The challenge was that my heaven is a very solitary space, influenced by a preference for intuitiveness and an extremely introverted personality.
During an initial Review, my Director stated she wanted to see more speaking, less writing. Trying to disguise how deeply that cut, I responded with the content and quantity of work produced through my written communications. She countered with:
“Tim, we have 1500 people looking for guidance on this property. Only a small percentage will take the time to read what you have written. When you speak, they all listen. That is your strength.”
Writing was something I did out of love.
Speaking began out of necessity, not as an instinctive impulse. I had become comfortable with being in front of others, on stage so to speak, the product of a natural ability and essence of desire.
Now I had to embrace it as a Strength. It was the one aspect of my performance that could most influence the behavior of others.
What followed was a dedicated focus to improving my comfort level with Speaking, maximizing impact of opportunities to engage with our team, communicate on behalf of the organization, and inspire others to follow their aspirations and dreams.
This included studying speakers and facilitators I found most engaging, working elements of their style into mine to create a heartfelt approach, as opposed to a mental necessity or obligation.
My hope is that everyone is still listening.
Step #3: Cracked Eggs
We’ve all been there.
You purchase a carton of eggs. When you return home, you discover that one of the eggs is cracked. Ugh . . . not what you paid for.
How do you prevent this? By checking the eggs while you’re still in the store.
If your dreams include applying for a different or next level position, consider yourself “in the store.”
Waiting until your interview to discover missing abilities or necessary experience is like failing to check for cracked eggs before purchasing the carton. You may not get what you expected.
Now is the time to review your inventory of applicable skills and competencies to ensure you meet the basic qualifications of your next position.
Review the Minimum Qualifications and Job Description of your Next Intended Position
Identify any missing professional certifications or necessary areas of experience and work those into the Development Objective and Action Steps of your PDP
Strengthen Competency Areas deemed Vital to successful performance
While your current position called for general knowledge of a competency area, your next position may require proficiency.
Developing mentor relationships or enrolling in an educational program are two great resources for building competency.
Recognize Fatal Flaws
Sometimes your cracked eggs cannot be replaced. Purchasing that carton will leave you short of a dozen.
If your natural abilities do not support your dreams, look for another path to fulfillment.
For example . . . I love to sing, but no one in their right mind would pay to hear me.
I can still use my voice, though, to inspire emotion and cultivate a spirit of belief. As referenced in Step #2, that has remained the focus of my personal development.
Your creativity is the best resource for determining your potential. While embracing input from others provides welcomed perspective, you remain in control of decisions impacting your development, and your future.
Enliven your Personal Development Planning by first identifying Vital Behaviors, those aspects of your performance with the highest potential to influence successful performance.
Next, consider your Strengths, something you are good at and love to do. Continue refining Strengths to reach Mastery, elevating their impact through positions of increasing scope or authority.
Lastly, identify your Cracked Eggs, missing certifications, competencies, or experience, while you’re still “in the store.” No one wants to walk away from an interview with less than they expected.
One final note . . . never forget how to dream. There will be hurdles to overcome, disappointments along the journey. But your dreams, those are forever. They remind you who you are, so you can focus on what you want to be.