Personal Development: Why is it Important to Leadership & Life

I was introduced to personal Development 15 years ago when I began my career in direct sales.  While I always leaned toward it and practiced it in some way, becoming part of a company that embraced it and having a mentor that preached it changed the trajectory of my life.  I believe with all my heart that we all need personal development and the more we work on ourselves, the more we bring to the world.   

This week this topic has come up in a few conversations and it has made me really explore why I believe this is important to leadership and important to life.  The fact is, we are all born to grow into the best version of ourselves.  We all have a dark side and a light side. It is our job to shine light on the dark, be forgiving, be open not only to ourselves, but to others.  It is hard work.  It is really hard work and when we are brave enough to go deep inside, we are able to sort through what works best for us and work every day to uncover and discover our potential, our beauty, our grace, our purpose, and passion.  

For me personally, this practice has been life changing and this practice has allowed me to emerge as myself, and not a version of someone else.  It is a work in progress and it is a journey, a lifelong one at that.   For years I focused on success principles and learned so much from that, many lessons which I still implement and follow today.    Interestingly enough, the thought leaders were mostly male and while the content is great, it has not addressed issues specific to women and issues specific to being a mom and growing from girl to woman.  In 2009, I experienced my own shifts, as it was the first time in my life that I made personal development & growth a priority in my life.  I walked into a yoga studio and it all changed.  I learned to merge body, mind & spirit, and to grow from within, rather than being focused on the world around me. I tapped into my greatest teacher of all, me.  I still study those around me and I feed myself with books, words of inspiration, motivation, and become inspired by others' examples, but I also combine that with the practice of yoga, the discovery of self, the journey to the heart.  

I believe with all of my heart, when women grow and work on themselves, they are able to show up better in the world.  A better mom, wife, leader, friend, and champion of change, brave enough to change themselves but also brave enough to change something in the world.

While I love nice things, fashion and trends, those are only ornaments.  They are only the shield that covers us and covers the truth that exists.  True beauty lies within.  It is the human spirit and the openness to each other and our desire to be better (not the best) that unites us all and creates community, positivity, comradery, and momentum in living with purpose and passion.  That is all well and good, but it is not always easy, and we are not always feeling those things.  For me, PD (personal development) is the daily plan that creates actions, thoughts, and behaviors that move us in the right direction and help us gain clarity on how we want to live and what brings us fulfillment.  

I am not alone on this topic. In fact, many world class leaders would argue that you have to work on yourself every day to truly emerge into a great leader, and not only that, but a good person.  Leadership is growth.  When you work on yourself, you grow as a leader.   Some of the greatest leaders we all know, teach this and include this in their quotes, writings, lessons, and daily practices.   Here are some that come to mind:  Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Gilbert, Maria Shriver, Sheryl Sandberg, Brene’ Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, Michele Obama, Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and the list goes on….   These leaders read, write, and work on themselves in body, mind & spirit.    Learning & leading go hand in hand. It is not only learning about our trade or just our profession, it is learning about ourselves, growing our spirit and faith, feeding our body and mind with good things, practicing self-care, and also learning how to work with others and creating the most positive environment to work in and live in.  

Here are a few key things you can do to begin or develop your personal development plan:
—Daily affirmations
—Daily meditation & Prayer
—Cast vision and set goals
—Practice gratitude, write it down
—Journal your thoughts, dreams, and reflections
—Do yoga on and off the mat
—Secure a workout plan each week through: gym membership, home workout, yoga or pilates studio
—Review your nutrition & wellness, are you feeding your body well
—Read 30 minutes each day nonfiction books that expand your belief, mind & spirit
—Serve others, share kindness, be focused on aligning with positive people

Here are some things to stop doing:
—Habits that take you away from your vision
—Comparing yourself to others
—Gossiping (I know this is hard)
—Complaining or blaming
—Thinking you are above personal development (this is not socio-economical or education related -we all need it, there are no exceptions)
—Over scheduling yourself, if you are a workaholic you need this more than ever
—Stop trying to fit in, you need to stand out.  This is not for the “cool kids.”  This is for the brave ones that lead others, not that look for followers.
—Waiting for ______ to happen.   Don’t put this on hold, begin each day, even small steps will move you in the right direction.

When we shift our focus more on this and less on the stuff and fluff that really does not matter, we will bring more collaboration, more positive people, more community and more progress to our lives and our vision and goals.  At the end of the day, besides from good health, don’t we just want to be happy?   

Begin your journey, today.  

Pam Guyer