from the Blog

Growing Yourself – Personal Development



I am a personal development junkie. To be more politically correct, a ‘lifelong learner’ – much more palatable, don’t you think? While we can joke about it, strongly taking actions to more fully develop yourself is an important activity.

I am reminded often of this quote . . . .

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

While somewhat cliche, it a common quote that we apply to businesses. We often hear it referred to in talk about economic development and the growth of our communities.

How does growing apply to you? to your personal life and career? Are you growing or are you . . . not growing? What are you doing for your own personal development?

During my research for his post I was looking for the perfect definition of personal development. While I am not a huge fan of Wikipedia, they nailed this definition:

“Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.”


Personal development training can help develop self confidence.

Personal development training can help you with goal setting.

Personal development training can help you increase your personal skills – making you more valuable to your team, your boss, and your clients.

Personal development training can enhance your wealth.


Opportunities for Personal Development?

  • Books: Harry Truman is one of my personal heroes and he was right on when he said that “Not all Readers are Leaders, but all Leaders are Readers”. But what to read? The interwebs abound with recommended reading lists from successful people. Many read 50-100 books per year. My personal goal is 25, or 2 books per month. Check out a few of my favorites.  But ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Consider setting aside 20 – 30 minutes each morning or evening for reading. Don’t overlook audio books, they are great for when you are driving or exercising. Not sure that you want to commit $20-30 per book – remember your local library. Most libraries have a great selection of leadership and personal development books available. Many have digital copies on line, print and audio, that can be checked out for your digital reader. This is a great way to preview books that you are not sure that you want to add to your personal bookshelf.
  • Blogs and podcasts: So you are not a big reader and would rather get your information in smaller chunks. Blogs and podcasts may be better suited for you. There are tens of thousands of blogs available and cover any subject that may interest you. I recommend that you subscribe so that the blog or podcast is automatically delivered to you on a regular basis and immediately available to you to read or listen to at your convenience. Recommendations: Continuing to follow theNextStep blog and recommend it to your friends would be my first choice. One of my go to podcasts is EntreLeadership. The 30-50 minute format is a perfect complement to my morning walk.
  • Seminars: This is an often overlooked resource. The opportunities here are incredible, and just like blogs and podcasts, there are webinars and seminars for just about any interest. Our local Chamber of Commerce hosts at least one leadership, networking, communication, or team building seminar each month. The costs are nominal, usually $10-25, just enough to cover costs of the associated breakfast or lunch. Our regional economic development council hosts entrepreneurial workshops and economic summits on a regular basis. The various colleges at the university host informational lunch / learns. It would be easy to attend at least one seminar each month.
  • Webinars: This is another overlooked resource. Just before the first of the year I participated in a one hour Goal Setting webinar hosted by Michael Hyatt, and last week I participated in a team building webinar hosted by Pat Lencioni. Both of these were great webinars that added to my personal development – and they were both free. I am now on their mailing list as they try to sell future products. I can easily unsubscribe if they start inundating my inbox (or I can use that dummy email account when I sign up).


How do we maximize and apply the lessons learned from our personal development opportunities? It would be unfortunate to spend the time and money to read books, attend seminars, etc., and not remember enough to apply any of the knowledge gained.

Maximizing Personal Development Opportunities:

  • Take Notes: You guys know me – I am a note taking machine. Taking notes is one of the best ways to comprehend and internalize what you have read or heard. Years ago I participated in a pretty intensive discipleship bible study. One of the things I noticed was the pencil notes, red lined, and highlighted passages in everyone’s bibles. This was completely foreign to me as I was taught as a child to never write in a book, and certainly not in the most sacred of books. This was a transformational experience. While I don’t write in novels, library books, or borrowed books, my personal development books are a different story – post its, highlights, notes in the margins – everything is fair game. I recommended this to a recent mentee who was not a strong reader. This one thing has changed the way he approaches reading.
  • Study Groups: Study groups are a lot like mastermind groups. The alliance of two or more minds is more than twice as impactful. The ability to discuss and challenge aids you to understand and internalize concepts. Last fall my team did a weekly book review of “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business”, by Gino Wickman. Many of the processes in our company are based on this boo. It is required reading, but most of the team had only skimmed the pages, at best. Reviewing the book in a systematic manner, in a group setting, provided a higher level of buy-in and has had immediate positive effects on our team.

What personal development opportunities are you going to take advantage of this year? What are you scheduling for the first quarter of 2017?

Three challenges for you this week:

  • Pick up one Personal Development book for you and a friend to read in the next thirty days – and read it.
  • Sign up for one networking event or seminar to be held in the next thirty days – and go.


. . . . go have an Awesome Week!

Tom Trabue