As an executive coach, I’m in the business of personal development and growth-helping others achieve their goals and aspirations through positive yet challenging techniques. It is an amazing experience to watch someone grow along their own developmental axis, pushing their “learning edge” in ways that they may not have believed possible before.
What I notice in successful clients are three mindsets that are critical for anyone seeking personal growth: intentionality, presence, and perspective.
Personal development requires intentionality. You must be intentional in your desire to grow, and specific enough in your goals to know where you should focus your limited growth energy. While there are always chance opportunities for personal growth, the lack of intentionality hinders progress because you can’t really understand your progress towards a known goal. When I work with clients who believe in the power of intentionality it allows us to focus on clear visioning of a desired state, followed by goal creation and pathway mapping. All of these are critical tools for personal development and, interestingly, the same steps that positive psychologists use to study hope. Intentionality helps hope come to life.
Presence allows us to be consciously aware of our surroundings-right here, right now. Our natural default settings can hinder personal development because they are the same old pathways we’ve always known. To embark on a personal development journey with presence means we take accountability for noticing how we show up in life. Clients who can be present suddenly have the ability to notice more, to make sense of the world in different ways, and to understand what might be holding back their intentional growth. These clients can also notice how to better manage their energy through the personal growth cycle. Sometimes you need to do, and sometimes you just need to be.
Why exactly do you want to grow and what does this growth ultimately serve? Those who seek growth solely for professional gain are rarely satisfied in the end. Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely must focus on how to grow in your professional endeavors, but it’s more important to think about your human endeavors first.
There are some who see personal development growth as a non-stop activity, but this is unwise. If you do this you’re building endurance at the expense of resilience. It’s great to keep running, but where exactly are you going? And more importantly, how are you processing failure along the way? Endurance will help you push through, but resilience will give you the greater strength to bounce back. The practices of intentionality and presence should help develop your perspective on what’s most important and why. This allows you room to let go of things that no longer serve you, those behaviors and attitudes that helped get you where you are but might not help you get to where you want to be.
Ray Luther is the executive director of the Partnership for Coaching Excellence and Personal Leadership at the Kelley School of Business. To learn more about how you can achieve your leadership goals with coaching, please visit bit.ly/2ARMjhf.