Always keep developing yourself

CPD

As an HR professional now specialising in employment law, I need to have a record of my CPD/my continuous personal development.  I also have a personal philosophy of CPD and for that reason I happily read self-help books.  If I can’t help myself, I’m in a poor state, after all. And since I know I’m not perfect, and need all the help I can get at times, such books offer me many great ideas I can implement myself or I can pass on to others. 

CPD & Change

Continuous personal development means change, and since change is a constant in our lives, we may as well learn how to get comfortable with it.  Sometimes that will be about reacting to external changes we have no control over.  Other times, we will (or can) choose to change with an aim to improve and grow.  As a recovering perfectionist, of course that isn’t enough, as “improving” implies something isn’t perfect already – but it’s this that make my journey interesting, because to risk change and growth is to risk failure.  Gulp!

Getting Comfortable With Change

Yet over time, I’m getting more comfortable with change and taking risks because I now know there is no failure, only feedback,(thanks Jane Talbot), I now know that there are gifts of imperfection (thanks Brene Brown) – and I’m gathering evidence that I survive – and thrive. 

Thriving or Surviving

I read this story today and thought how glad I am that I keep taking the risks because that way, I know I’m living while I’m alive.   I know people like the guy in the story; people who hate their current jobs but won’t move because in 10, 20, or in one case 25 years time, they will get a good pension/pay off.  People who stay in neighbourhoods, houses, relationships and friendships they have long since outgrown but won’t leave because their very familiarity brings comfort where change would at least initially feel quite different. 

A Marking of Time

For some, life then becomes an existence, a marking of time – and a terrible waste of a life.  We only get one life, and our life is what we make it.  It’s too short to stay unhappy.  So take risks.  Accept you may fail.  Know that there is no failure, only feedback. Learn to fly without a safety net. Live while you’re alive.

The only way that individuals change is to do something new, which by definition means you’ll do it poorly, and for the high-need-for-achievement personality the challenge is they don’t want to look bad.  They don’t want to look foolish.  They often don’t trust the organization to support them if they take a risk and try something different.

I remember as if it were yesterday a 43 year-old headmaster of a school.  Now a headmaster or principal of the school, this was a gentleman who had 1,600 customers, or students, between the ages of 14 ½ and 17 years of age, and after I had given a speech this gentleman came back, and I appreciate his candor, but what he said to me, he says, “Professor Delong,” he says, “I need to confess something to you.” 

He said, “You told me that I need to try and do something different and that I needed to go through this path of agenda-setting and getting help from someone else.  But,” he said, “I just need to confess to you, but I hate what I do.  Thank goodness I only have 12 years to retirement.” 

Twelve years.  And so in some ways this great man has given up, and you can thank yourself, if you’re listening to this, that none of you have children that are going to that school because those 1,600 kids need a file leader, need an inspiration, and this young man at 43 has given up. 

He is basically halfway through life and he has stopped growing and he has stopped developing, and I’m naïve enough to believe that individuals can change at 40 and at 50 and at 60, and it is the most exhilarating feeling in the world, and it’s frightening, and you can’t do it alone, but you can fly without a net.  I promise you, you can.  It will, I promise you, put you back on the road to what I would call, in a very basic form, put you back on the road to life Twelve years.  And so in some ways this great man has given up, and you can thank yourself, if you’re listening to this, that none of you have children that are going to that school because those 1,600 kids need a file leader, need an inspiration, and this young man at 43 has given up. 

He is basically halfway through life and he has stopped growing and he has stopped developing, and I’m naïve enough to believe that individuals can change at 40 and at 50 and at 60, and it is the most exhilarating feeling in the world, and it’s frightening, and you can’t do it alone, but you can fly without a net.  I promise you, you can.  It will, I promise you, put you back on the road to what I would call, in a very basic form, put you back on the road to life.  Thomas Delong, Harvard Businss School Professor