Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Personal Development Dead?

Is it possible that we have too many terms with too much baggage ... terms like 'personal development'? Could it be that 'personal development' is bogging many good and potentially great leaders down? (Not to mention professional development.) They have sincere and hopeful intentions but over the months and years remain stuck, not growing and not attempting to grow beyond what are akin to a few New Year's Resolutions and some feeble attempts at 'embracing change' all under the label of personal and professional growth.

Is personal development dead? ... the term I mean ... is it spent, passe, overworked, past its prime, tired and in need of younger blood showing up on the scene?

'Personal development' - it's a great term, you know. Keeping it alive and well certainly fits into the movement that benefits to the tune of billions every year. But with all the personal development, you'd think we'd be further ahead in our companies and communities.

Again,  could it be that a lot of it just isn't implemented at a very personal level? Or that too few people even explore what might be involved and are content to live in mediocrity as long as their pay cheque keeps showing up? Or that industry truthfully has no stomach to encourage and inspire it?

Maybe we need a new term, something to jettison the stereotype and start fresh ... something meaningful, measurable and moving. Maybe personal development should be 'Practical Monthly Improvement'. How about that? It isn't glamorous but it's a workhorse of a term.

Practical Monthly Improvement implies that something is measured from month to month. It assures us there is actual forward movement. And it certainly tells us that it shows up in everyday practical ways.

What would you do to achieve Practical Monthly Improvement? (Or PMI, as we'd have to say in business speak.)

Imagine what could happen in a company or an organization where every individual from bottom to top was seriously committed to month over month improvement both individually and collectively. Where compensation and rewards were based on real practical, observable, monthly improvement? What would that look like?

You might be thinking this is idealistic nut-talk ... a whole organization ... come on. But practical monthly improvement isn't corny, and I don't care what new term you come up with if the intention is right. Maybe, just maybe if we got rid of some of the stereotypical ideas people have about personal development and how difficult it is going to be, we could move forward faster.

When we published 52 Solutions for Those Who Need a 25 Hour Day, we were committed to really, really practical action steps. Pick any ten simple practices from that book and it will probably transform the way you work and lead. Just ten.That's what I mean by practical monthly improvement.

And while I'm at it, maybe we should require PMI as a condition of employment and leadership or running for public office. Prove you're engaged with doing better and making things better. Your company, cause ... or country ... will be better for it. You'll be more satisfied. It could develop into a way of living and working from here on in.

When being aware and being willing get turned into daily, intentional and decisive action, there is no telling what can be accomplished in a life ... or a country.

What do you say my friend? Does PMI have traction?

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