This is the first article in the series entitled “Patterns of Success”. In this series I will identify the three major steps I have used for virtually every personal growth achievement I have ever made. Mastering your effectiveness in all three steps will allow you to move your own personal development further much more rapidly, whereas weakness in any step makes progress far more difficult.
Patterns for Success
In writing articles about various aspects of personal development and growth I feel I have neglected to write about what is, perhaps, the most essential topic towards personal development and improvement. The most essential topic is your process for achieving personal development. This may seem pretty basic, but when looking at the strategies other people have for pursuing improvement I am often caught off-guard from how much they differ from my own. The process and steps you use to continually create change, improvement and expansion in your life regardless of whether it is to improve your courage, make more money, or get in shape is the most critical aspect to the success you have with personal development in general.
Not all strategies are alike. I think some of us have the unspoken assumption that we all pursue personal development in the same way, at least in the most general terms. Although we may have different goals, focuses and values, I think most people assume that personal development is the same process for most people. In reality I see huge differences. I believe it is often these differences in procedure for how you move towards any personal development that often determine your results.
As I have done more and more things towards my own personal growth I have really noticed a consistent pattern for progress. I believe that it is this process that has allowed me a lot of success in moving forwards. That said, I don’t believe that there is only one successful process, nor do I believe that my process is a perfect procedure. However, if you are frustrated with a lack of success in your own personal development efforts, you may want to look at the pattern that has served me so well.
My pattern for personal development comes down to pretty much the same three steps every time. The steps are ideas, implementation, review. By focusing on all three steps of this personal development equation, I have been able to achieve a fairly high degree of personal development success in a relatively short period of time. I think that these three steps are so important that I have decided to make a blog entry for each one of the steps.
In order to improve you need to have ideas about where you can improve. Idea generation is an important, but often over-emphasized phase. I would suggest spending no more than twenty percent of your resources on this phase. Idea generation comes from reading books, listening to audio tapes or reading this blog. You can also generate ideas from introspection and journalling, or modeling the success of others. Consider idea generation to be like collecting seeds for future growth. Collecting a lot of seeds from a wide variety of plants will give you the greatest ability to select those with the most potential.
Idea generation is an incredibly important step in personal development. It is the first step, for without seeds there can be no trees. Unfortunately, most people incorrectly assume it is the only step. This is why you frequently see people who read self-help books and attend personal development seminars and don’t ever make any noticeable progress. If you have more ideas for improvement then you can ever implement, that is an excellent thing, just make sure that you are actually implementing some of them.
The second step towards personal development success is implementing some of your ideas. Implementation should take at least sixty percent of your resources. Implementation is the most important step in moving forward. Unfortunately, this step is also the most energy and time consuming. Implementation, unlike idea generation, is an incredibly costly step towards personal growth. As a result you have to be miserly about how you invest in this step. It is impossible to spend time and energy on every idea you encounter, so you must learn to select the absolute best ideas and focus your resources on their development.
A failure at this step is where I feel most personal development ambitions fizzle out. Because idea generation is several magnitudes easier than implementation, many people avoid this step. Unfortunately, without pursuing this step you can never experience any growth. Growth occurs only after you have taken your ideas and set them into reality.
Review is critical to long-term success. About twenty percent of your resources should be allocated to review. The reason review is so critical is that it allows you to overcome obstacles that you have solved previously. In programming it is generally considered good practice to create a separate function (or pre-organized procedure) for every problem that needs to be solved more than once. This greatly reduces the amount of time spent solving old problems. Reviews act in the same way. By reviewing your progress you can internalize the lessons life has already taught you so you don’t need to be taught them again.
Review is also necessary to ensure that you are improving in the direction you want. In essence, review is the only mechanism to detect whether you are actually growing. Ignoring this step would be like trying to drive a car with opaque windows. Because you can rarely see into the future with any degree of accuracy, you often must rely on your review to look through the past.
Ideas, implementation and review. For virtually every experience of growth I have had it has fallen into these three steps. Often the degree of success I experienced depended on the amount of energy that was proportioned to these three. With my strong personal bias towards implementation of ideas, flanked by ideas and review I have been able to make strides in my progress.
In the next article, Ideas, I will identify methods of generating new ideas for personal development. From initial idea generation, I will include how you can be selective about which ideas to focus on. Efficiently working through this process is the difference between wasting time on personal development ideas that have no substance to tackling concepts that completely revolutionize your life.