I recently celebrated my 27th birthday a couple of days ago, and this was an excellent opportunity to slow down and reflect on my journey and growth over the years.
I moved to Canada with my family as a 17-year-old, and unsurprisingly this came with many challenges. There was the culture shock, the weather shock (it gets very cold in the winter!) and the challenge of finding new friends and adjusting to a new country.
That being said, these challenges were very welcomed and they forced me to focus on my personal growth and development.
Personal growth has always been very important to me for as long as I can remember. I believe that everyone has limitless potential and a capacity to accomplish anything one is passionate about and I believe that to reach any lofty height, one has to invest in themselves.
Personal growth is the process by which a person recognizes themselves, understand their areas of strength and weaknesses and take concrete steps to improve one’s habits, behaviours, actions and reactions.
I will share with you 4 key ideas that have accelerated my personal growth and development by 1,000%. These key ideas are as follows:
- MBTI Personality Types
- Emotional Intelligence
MBTI Personality Types
To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom. ― Socrates
The Myers-Briggs personality type indicator (MBTI) is a very compelling model when it comes to an understanding of the psychology of personalities. This psychological instrument reliably identifies 16 distinctly different personality types and act as useful reference points to explain how and why you are the way you are. This model tests your natural preference for the following dimensions:
- Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I) — How you are energized.
- Sensing (S) or Intuition (N) — What kind of information you naturally pay attention to.
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) — How you make decisions.
- Judging (J) or Perception (P) — How you like to organize your world.
When you put these 4 letters together, you get a personality type code. I encourage you to take a free personality test here.
I tested as an ENFP, this means that I am extroverted (E) and most energized when I interact with people around me. I am also intuitive (N) which means I naturally try to understand the connections and underlying meaning of things around me. I am also a feeler (F) which means that I make most of my decisions based on my internal value system rooted in how I feel about issues and how I think that others will be affected by it. Finally, I am a perceiver (P) which means that I like to be able to leave my options open just in case something unexpected comes up.
Knowing and understanding my personality type helped me to understand myself and why I think and feel the way I do. This was important for my personal growth as I had a robust understanding of my areas of strength and weaknesses and understood how I absorbed information best. I also understood how I made decisions at a subconscious level and how I preferred to organize my life.
Also, by understanding my personality type, I had a good understanding of what my personality was not, this helped me to see the differences in those around me in a deeper way and impacted whom I chose as my close friends and confidants. This knowledge also helped me with how I approached conflicts and how I interacted with people who saw the world differently.
A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking. — Nassim Taleb
Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded in Athens around 300BC by a man called Zeno of Citium. Zeno was a former merchant who lost everything he had in a shipwreck before becoming a student of philosophy.
I came across this concept in my early days as a business owner, my business coach at the time incorporated this philosophy into his coaching style.
Being a first-time business owner was particularly challenging for me. I found myself always worried and distracted by questions and situations that were out of my control — Will my business generate enough revenue to survive? Will my key employees quit? Will my clients be satisfied? etc.
Adopting this philosophy helped me to stay levelheaded and focused regardless of external events. Stoicism helped me to understand that I only had to focus my attention on how I responded to external events. This way of thinking also taught me to focus on what was in my control — my thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, actions and reactions. This mindset was important for the following reasons:
- Firstly, I learned to take responsibility for how I viewed things. Rather than just blaming the world or other people for my shitty or difficult situations or my crappy mood, I was empowered to accept that at the end of the day, I was responsible for my success and happiness. No one else.
- Secondly, I was able to draw a line between what I did and did not have control over. I realized that it was very easy to get upset about things in my life that I had no control over. This inevitably led to feelings of helplessness, powerlessness and bitterness which caused unnecessary suffering and anxiety.
- Thirdly, I learned that when I focused on what I could control, I started to become more effective, and could solve problems more easily. The key to this was to accept that there was very little within my control, and thus focus my effort on the few things that I had control over — my mindset, thoughts, actions, reactions, perspective and beliefs.
Experiencing one’s self in a conscious manner–that is, gaining self-knowledge–is an integral part of learning. — Joshua M. Freedman
Renowned psychologist and researcher Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions as well as the emotions of others. Someone with skills in emotional intelligence is highly conscious of his or her emotional states whether positive — joy, love, gratitude or negative — frustration, sadness or resentment.
As someone with strong emotions, I initially struggled to manage them earlier in my career. As a new business owner, I found myself snapping and yelling at employees when mistakes were made; this led to high staff turnover and was an issue that needed to be addressed. Learning how to identify and manage my emotions was key to becoming a better person and team leader.
To improve my emotional intelligence, I had to focus on developing the following skill domains:
- Self-awareness: This skill was necessary to recognize and label my emotions and feelings while they were happening. There is always a very brief moment between when I perceived an external threat and when my logical brain was able to process the information to determine the best course of action. Self-awareness was all about recognizing these moments and ensuring that my response was in line with my long term goals.
- Self-control: This skill was necessary to control my feelings and how I expressed them to ensure that they remain appropriate for the given situation. This was important as I was able to stay calm and levelheaded even during tense and trying moments
- Self-motivation: This skill was necessary to keep my actions goal-directed even when I was distracted by emotions. Self-motivation helped me to delay gratification and avoid acting in impulsive ways. This was key to running a successful business for over 4 years while enrolled in full-time classes.
- Empathy: This skill was necessary to notice and correctly interpret the needs and wants of others and put myself in the shoes of others. Empathy helped me to put the needs of people I lead above mine and to truly care and take an active interest in the concerns of clients and people I care about. This was key in retaining my key staff and building loyalty.
People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses — Brene Brown
I came across the concept of vulnerability by reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. In this book, she shares her research on how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.
Brown explains how the concept of vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She explains that when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.
Vulnerability was key for me to learn humility, deal with my ego and step out of my comfort zone. Adopting this mindset helped me master new skills, build meaningful relationships and staying authentic and true to myself.
It is impossible to achieve anything of note if one is not willing to show up, take a chance, put one’s self out there and take a risk. I found out that vulnerability and the willingness to fail was key to developing the courage I needed to show up.
Adopting this mindset has helped me to run a successful business while completing my computer science degree. I have launched and failed at a new tech start-up after 2 years, but I learned so much from the experience and I continue to put myself out there and take risks.
Vulnerability is truly a catalyst for any great achievement.
Hi, I’m David and I coach professionals to upgrade their resume, grow soft-skills and earn more money. I am a professional recruiter and work as a consultant for a world-class recruiting firm. You can learn more about me at davidowasi.com. Also, feel free to check out my Ultimate Career Guide Course on Udemy.