Success and Continuous Development – Part One
Continuous Development is the seventh C in the twelve part series of the C’s of Success. In part one, we will cover the importance of individual continuous development.
Continuous Development can be considered the catalyst for all current and future growth and improvement. Without it, the status quo would rule the day and very little improvement or growth could occur in both individuals and organizations. There is a strong need for purposeful continuous development at all levels of organizations. Individuals who get ahead in life do so by improving themselves either by improving skills or their wisdom.
What is Continuous Development?
When we first started our company we choose the name “Kaizen Performance Group, Inc.” because of the term Kaizen. Kaizen means to continuously improve in a holistic way. We believed then as we believe today that all improvement begins with continuously developing and improving what and how you do things.We also found the fastest method of gaining experience was to learn from experts, thus shortening the learning curves in life and business.
The Japan adopted the term “Kaizen” to their total quality efforts because they recognized the need for continuous improvement in their organizational work flows and processes. Using Kaizen as the focal point, they looked to improve every process and individual skill within their organizations. Kaizen principles led to their leading the world in total quality of product and services. A simple method leading to major results.
What is Individual Continuous Development?
Personally I owe my own success in life and business to having my eyes opened by several mentors who taught me that continuous development was the road of highest choice. To take this road would allow me to first understand a topic, then master it and finally becoming an expert or authority on the topic. While I was not a great student in my early years, I have excelled in life due to the habit of continuous development in areas of interest or need. I realize that to some of you this sounds a bit to ego centered – yet, let me point out I am still learning every day. Using this new knowledge and skills, I have been helping my clients achieve their goals for over twenty years. And, that is what I’m thankful to have learned the importance of continuous improvement and development.
So how do you improve or use continuous development as an individual? Here are several steps to get on your personal pathway of professional development and growth as an individual.
- Self-assessment: Ask this question to begin your process – What are the skills, attributes and abilities I need to fulfull my life goals? Use assessments to understand your natural strengths and weaknesses. Get an expert to give you guidance on how these natural strengths and weaknesses will influence or impact your chosen field of work.
- Make a Commitment to yourself: Another important C word – commitment – which in this case is critical to your motivation to stay the course of development. The truth is continuous development is a lifelong process. It has no stopping or end point to target. The more you learn, the more curious you will become about related fields or subjects. Other topics of interest will enter your field of vision as you move through time and your focus may shift as the process remains the same. The faster you create a habit of continuous development – the faster you will get ahead.
- Read: When it was first suggested to me to read one hour per day on a topic, I was not very enthusiastic about the concept. The main reason for this attitude was due to my poor reading habits and speed. It took me forever to read a book! At some point I found out about speed reading and found Evelyn Wood’s Dynamic Reading course. It made a huge difference in both reading speed and retention. I learned that slow reading actually reduces retention due to your brain wanting to process more information and it drifts off course to find more information (day dreaming or thinking about other situations while reading). After taking the course, my reading skills improved over 5 X and reading became exciting.
What I have found is reading opens doors to information and thought that immediately takes you to the next level. Only reading can do this. Listening to speakers is okay, yet, it does not engage the brain at the same intensity level as reading. Make a commitment to reading. Set a goal to read a certain number of books per month. That is another method I found workable. I tracked the books I read and created reading lists for my clients.
- Listen to Experts: When I started this process I was listening to audiocassettes which still works today. However, you have more tools to choose from than just tapes. You can find CD’s, DVD’s, MP3 files, and Podcasts on your topics of interest. The key is to listen to real experts. Real experts are the people who have been there and learned how to do things for you. Then they share their experience and wisdom to help you get to the next level of performance faster than you would have on your own.
- Attend Seminars and Workshops: Oh, yes, the new technology of Webinars are part of this list. The key again is to learn from the real experts who are sharing their experiences and wisdom. This accelerates your learning cycle allowing you to begin thinking about application rather than discovery of the how-to. Plan on attending seminars or workshops as often as once a quarter. These processes will help you grow and give you access to experts who can help you fine tune the applications to your world of realities.
Use the above steps and you will improve and development the skills and traits you need to be successful. If you are curious about what we do, check out our website and learn how we have been Getting Our Clients to the Next Level for over twenty years. Thursday, I will cover the organizational side of Continuous Development, so come back for more learning.
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