Here’s the big secret of personal development. If you want to make big improvements, it’s most likely to happen if you improve a little at a time. Leadership development experts tell us that seventy percent of the way we learn to lead is on the job. That’s true, and you can make that learning better with a little bit of work.
I really think the world of leaders is divided into two groups. One group figures that they’ll learn just by doing. They do, but that learning is random and much slower than it needs to be. The other group of leaders includes the men and women who take control of their own leadership learning. They learn more important things faster because they do just a little bit of work.
What Do You Want to Improve?
If you’re going to get started planning your own development, you can make two lists. List your strengths and what things you can learn that will build on those strengths. List weaknesses that you must improve on, either for your current job or the one you want next. You’ll surely have other weaknesses, but working on them won’t improve your performance much.
Identify Your Knowledge Sources
Once you know what areas you want to improve, you can identify sources of the knowledge you need. Check out your notes from courses you’ve taken and your reading notes. Do a simple web search. My book, Become A Better Boss One Tip at a Time, has 347 tips that can function as learning points for you.
Learn A Little Every Day
Here’s something that’s worked for me for decades. Adapt it so that it works for you.
In the evening, identify one thing that you want to learn or improve on the following day. Make a note about what that is. I used to use index cards for this because they fit in my pocket, now I keep the notes on my smart phone. During the day, refer to your note and let it guide your action.
At the end of the day, take a moment or two to reflect on what you wanted to do and how things worked out. Then repeat the process. Do this day after day and you will get better almost without realizing it.
The key is to make it a habit to improve every day. A little bit today and a bit more tomorrow and another improvement the day after that, strung together for weeks and months and years. Suddenly you look back and realize how far you’ve come, one little improvement a day.