My personal development journey

Although our early life development and formative experiences within the family, at school, and growing up all help to shape us as adults, I believe our personal development should continue throughout our life.

When we think of a journey we might think about a holiday, a car, a plane or a train. Why do we not think about our personal journey and how we grow and change through experiences and interactions?

Our own personal development is a lifelong process. It’s a way for people to assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals in order to realise and maximise their potential.

Throughout my career I have often doubted my own ability to succeed and be good at what I know others say are my best skills. With my current role being my first corporate role it was like a new world of jargon and procedures. Having never heard of things like MMRs, SLAs or EBITs felt like I’d lived in a bubble for my previous working career!

As a trainer, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how people learn and I believe the best thing to do when you go into a new role is to accept that it’s good not to know everything all of the time. The ‘not knowing’ is what we use to build relationships and make new friends and it’s what enables us to develop. For example, during times of train strikes, severe weather and general crisis the human nature in us creates bonds of great solidarity where we’ve seen whole communities coming together to help each other. It just goes to show that when we are pushed out of our comfort zone into the unknown great things can happen. The same goes for your development, as Helen Keller says

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”.

This has helped me a lot over my career. If I don’t understand something, I just see it as another bit of progress on my development journey. Never be afraid to ask for more instructions or more time to let the penny drop. I have realised that no matter how many courses I can deliver or create, there is always someone at work, or in my circle of friends who knows a whole host of other skills that may add value to my personal development.

For me, so much of my development is about building relationships with people and building rapport within a team of people can only benefit your own growth. The people I’ve surrounded myself with have taught me so much. They have taught me processes and procedures I didn’t even know I didn’t know and they have also taught me personal life skills such as to not take things personally if things don’t work out, and that sometimes people’s behaviour towards you can be the result of something deeper. The people I’ve met and spoken to have taught me that in order to help people, you have to get to really know them.

This in its turn has helped me to gain more knowledge and confidence in my ability to encourage failure, which in turn helps me learn from my mistakes and develop my skills. As Henry Ford said

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”.

So, my advice is to take every opportunity you can to learn more both in work and in your personal life – your development is there for the taking.

Stephen Ritchie is a Learning and Development Advisor for Mitie Client Services

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