09 Feb 2021
Some years back I was scheduled for a performance appraisal session; my then line manager and I went through the objectives and revisited how the whole year went by and it all went quite well. Towards the end of the meeting we closed our discussion by a brief feedback session.
My line manager outlined my strengths and then she said I have one area that I think you should work on; you need to focus on your development.
She went further and said; “I really commend you for being so supportive in making sure that employees are being developed (as per my role in the organization) but I think you should make time and think about you. When we have development plan meetings it is always about other people; what about you Edith? ”.
Then there was sort of like an awkward silence and in my mind I heard her voice repeating itself “What about you Edith?”
The meeting ended and I went back and digested about what we discussed.
Well, my mama raised me that way - she always said do not be selfish; you should always think of others. I thought focusing on my development was being selfish. However, when you think of it, it is actually the opposite; how can you pour from an empty cup? You cannot serve from an empty vessel.
May be whoever is reading this article right now thinks the same way too. The “Edith” in you makes you think your development can wait.
That meeting made me realize that I need to intentionally work on my Personal Development Plan (PDP) because I had one in place but I kept postponing most of the actions within the plan.
I am sure some of you can relate with Edith; that you always put your development at the bottom of your priority list. And you feel, you have to fulfil other responsibilities in your life first. Or sometimes you feel may be you have reached a ceiling in your career and you cannot go beyond a certain level. Allow me to quote:
“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, effort means work” – Calvin Coolidge
If you want to grow you have to be intentional about it. It will not just happen organically.
Maybe you are asking yourself how can I be intentional about my growth. Among other things this is how I think you can be intentional about your growth:
1. Make A Decision:
Make a decision that you want to advance in your career or whatever that you have ventured in. Through this decision willingness will come. Trust me no one can force you to do something. You have to be willing to do it yourself. They say you can take a horse to the river but you cannot force it to drink water.
2. Create A Plan:
Make sure that you have a plan in place. I mentioned a Personal Development Plan (PDP); yes you can create your PDP. There is magic and power in writing things down. Do not just have them in your mind, write them down. In your PDP there should be short term and long term goals. Make sure all your goals have a timeline. Yes; they must have a timeline. It will instil a level of self-discipline in you, trust me.
Examine your goals and check which ones are within your cycle of influence and which ones are not and start working on them. One thing you should know is it is not always about classroom learning. We live in a world where we have access to information. What about intentionally planning to learn a certain skill from your colleague or a friend? Yes; we can learn from our peers. Maybe your short term goal is to learn how to write business proposals or you want to improve your public speaking skills; why not ask a colleague to support you.
4. Invite Someone in Your Journey:
Do not walk alone. Invite people to walk with you. There is a lady whom I really look up to and she doesn’t even know it. She likes saying “You need a tribe”.Make sure that you have the right friends. They say “Show me your friends and I will show you your Future”. Do your friends motivate/inspire you to do more and be more? Second, you need a mentor and a sponsor. You need a more experienced person to support and guide you as you continue to navigate through your journey.
I wish you well as you intentionally work on your personal development!
By Edith Mwiyombela
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