Each of us invest time in doing something. Even if it is to do nothing but sit on a couch; you are still investing time. And many of us receive no return of investment on the time we place towards our current activities. So much so, we might as well be sitting on the couch. I want to give you several reasons to invest in yourself first and foremost. Just as you should pay yourself first, each pay day, and invest it for you future; you need to invest in you first. And the way to pay yourself is to focus time on your action plan for personal growth today. If you wish to lead by influence tomorrow; you need to start with today, because today matters.
When I think of growth, it reminds me of farming and the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” John C. Maxwell says, in his book Today Matters-“We grow only when we apply what we know. Be intentional about developing and following a personal growth plan. Each day, endeavor to acquire knowledge and put it to use. No one else is tasked with making sure you grow; you are responsible for improving yourself personally and professionally.” In short, today matters. What you plant today, in terms of your personal development will determine what you harvest tomorrow.
1. The first step in this action plan for professional growth is to cultivate the field. Any farmer would tell you a key step towards growth is one has to prepare the field for sowing or planting seeds. And if you are going to cultivate or plow a field; you are going to have to be intentional about it. After all no field ever plowed itself. The field I am talking about is you. You have to prepare yourself to receive knowledge. So how do you prepare to cultivate your field? Start by setting aside time. We all have busy and hectic schedules, You have to carve out that time. And time makes the ground very hard too plow. But keep in mind, you are more important than your schedule. Your schedule should be developed around you, not you around your schedule. As you invest in your personal growth today, every facet of your schedule will improve tomorrow. Then when you participate in personal development training, read a book, listen to a recording or work with an executive coach, be present. Meaning you need to focus on what you are doing. You need to make the most of this time. When I went to Gonzaga University, in pursuit of my Master’s in Organizational Leadership, I’d tuck my babies in bed and kiss my wife good night. Then I would turn my focus on my course work. Believe me after a long workday and family time, all I wanted to do is to kick back and relax. However; I had goals for my family and I wanted growth, so I could seize upon future opportunities to become a leader. A leader who leads by influence. So cultivate your fields by intentionally setting aside time to develop yourself and maintain focus, so you make the best use of your time.
2. The next part of the action plan for personal growth is to invest in some good seed. You will need to water and feed the seed, as well as, keep your field weeded. Keep in mind you get what you sow or plant. If you want to grow your ability to be a great leader, then find good seed to plant so you can bring forth a good crop. The seed can take many forms. Perhaps there are leadership classes and workshops in your area which you can take part in. The John Maxwell Team regularly holds workshops and training on leadership. Seeds also need to be watered and fertilized. A great way to do this is improve the way you communicate. Each of us communicates, but most of the time we do so without making a connection with the person or persons we are speaking too. Becoming an effective communicator will enhance your leadership and bring forward a richer harvest. Seeds need nutrition as well. Weeds will fight fo steal that nutrition away from your seeds. One of the best ways to feed and weed your field is coaching. A coach can help you self-develop your field. A coach can also help you self-discover the weeds in your field, so you can remove them.
3. Another important step in your action plan for personal growth is to avoid doing nothing. If your field is not growing good seed, it is going to grow weeds. Weeds do not need much to take root and destroy any opportunity to lead by influence. What weed crops might pop up and over run your field: Apathy, unfulfilled dreams, discontent, frustration, and anger. The weed of apathy seeds will blow in. And if there is no action taken; indifference takes root. The weed of unfulfilled dreams accompanies apathy. You’ll dream about being more and doing more, but apathy keeps your dreams in check. A dandelion of frustration blossoms out of the unfulfilled dreams and the chaotic winds of life spreads the seeds of frustration. Frustration gives life to anger. And anger further disengages us from being the best version of whom we can be. Therefore doing nothing is not only detrimental to your personal growth; It robs the world of you being able to lead as you were truly meant to lead. It steals away the possibility of you positively influencing others.
I wish to encourage you to invest in yourself today, so you’ll be leading by influence tomorrow. Maxwell was very insightful when he said, “When we add value to ourselves, we add value to others.” This is so true. When you make the commitment to add value to yourself by investing in your personal growth, you in turn add value to others. So get out there and cultivate your field. Invest in some good leadership seed and don’t forget to water, feed and weed it. And speaking of weeds, remember if you do nothing you’ll invite a crop of detrimental weeds onto your field. And make no doubt, these weeds can and will overrun you. And the world may be robbed of your leadership and the potential positive influence you could have had on others.