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5 secrets of personal growth (and how to achieve your own)

Key Takeaways
  • Personal growth largely centers on embracing a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can improve your skills through effort, input from others, and good strategies.
  • This guide overviews some insights from research on personal growth, as well as advice from Big Think experts on how to achieve it.
  • Personal growth is a journey that doesn’t happen overnight. But with a little determination and an open mind, it can improve your life and put you on a better track toward your goals.

For any business or organization, it’s essential to an organization’s success to create an environment that encourages personal growth and having a growth mindset. In a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck describes people with a growth mindset as those who believe “their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others)” and they “tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”

However, that growth mindset need not be limited to strictly professional growth; it can, and should, also encompass personal growth and development in the workplace.

1) The importance of personal growth and personal development

Personal growth and development in the workplace is all about understanding and developing yourself in a way that helps you to reach your highest potential. Personal development and growth also play a significant role in contributing to your maturity, success, and overall happiness in life. Seeking out growth opportunities is essential because it helps you to reach beyond your comfort zone and extend yourself into new areas to achieve greater or more challenging things.

According to Big Think expert and graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, going outside your comfort zone can be something as simple as reading books that you usually wouldn’t choose. In his Big Think course “Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Find a New One,” he explains that the experience can help you to gain a greater awareness of and empathy for others with diverse backgrounds:

“Books are really one of the most effective ways for us to get a view of what it’s like inside somebody else’s brain, inside of somebody else’s mind, inside of their life experience. And as a result, books are one of the most effective ways of building empathy. As a diverse society, I think that’s something that we need more of.”

Personal growth helps you learn to become a more proactive and responsible person by changing your behaviors and habits to more conducive, productive, and beneficial actions. It also can help you to improve or grow your interpersonal communication skills, which are integral to successful communication. Whether you are trying to communicate with others in your personal or professional life, these often elusive “soft skills” can mean the difference between having good relationships with people or always feel like you’re butting heads and getting nowhere with them.

2) Personal growth often requires a change of mindset

Genuine personal growth can only be achieved by having a mindset that seeks out continuous growth. This mindset also includes actively trying to be more positive and practicing greater awareness of both yourself and others. Although some days may feel like you’ve taken two steps forward and three steps back, that’s okay — it’s all part of the growth process. Embracing a growth mindset means being able to adapt better to adversity and challenging situations.
Eventually, when you stick with it, your personal growth journey can lead you on a new path that can help you change your life both personally and professionally.

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3) Personal growth can give you greater confidence

As you learn and grow, you’ll slowly come to realize that those gaps that previously existed in your knowledge and skill sets are disappearing. In addition to gaining a greater sense of credibility, you also will gain a greater sense of confidence as well as a result, which will show in your interactions with colleagues, leaders, and even clients.

However, genuine confidence may not mean what you think it entails. Big Think expert and journalist Claire Shipman describes confidence not as feeling good about yourself (self-esteem), but instead as “the stuff that turns your thoughts into action.” In her course, “Mastering the Confidence Code: Confidence 101,” Shipman says that research indicates that 50-75% of our confidence accumulates through life experience: “It’s the nitty-gritty experience of life, and especially of moments in life that are difficult — moments when we have to use our grit or determination to overcome things.”

4) Personal growth benefits your organization’s bottom line

An article in Inc. shares that personal breakthroughs enable business breakthroughs. Part of this has to do with gaining greater mindfulness and self-awareness. According to the article:

“In 2013, a study by Korn Ferry analysts David Zes and Dana Landis titled A Better Return on Self-Awareness confirmed the ‘direct relationship between leader self-awareness and organizational financial performance’ through an intensive multi-year study. Through analysis of the stock performance of 486 companies and administering 6,977 self-assessments to the professionals within those companies, the authors found that ‘public companies with a higher rate of return also employ professionals who exhibit higher levels of self-awareness.’”

It’s important to note as well that personal growth programs should include more than formalized training — don’t hold training sessions just for the sake of doing so. Personal growth opportunities also should occur in more informal settings, such as employee lunch outings, walking breaks, and online communication and collaboration channels such as Slack or Basecamp.

5) Successful personal growth plans are individualized

While it’s important to make growth opportunities available to everyone, the specific route to achieving those goals should be tailored to the individual needs and goals of each employee. Don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach when creating a personal growth plan for each of your employees.

Steps to help you achieve personal growth

Personal growth is a process; it can’t be achieved overnight and can take weeks, months, or even years to fully develop. However, it’s important to remember where you want to be and to stay driven and focused. Here are a few steps you can follow to help you stay on track with this goal:

  1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses
  2. Define your goals and prioritize them
  3. Create a personal growth plan
  4. Implement your personal growth plan tp gain new skills and knowledge
  5. Seek support and encourage others in their own journeys

Finding ways to integrate personal growth and professional learning opportunities into your organization’s development programs can be challenging. But if you manage to succeed, it can make all the difference for your organization and your employees’ personal journeys.

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