The personal development trap

By: Vaughan Zoutendyk

A good name is better than gold: Avoid the personal development trap.

In the race to get ahead in life, it can be tempting to always be on the lookout for a better job, a better opportunity, or more money! But, as many of us with grey hair know, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Many people pursue one job after another in the hopes of 'leap-frogging' themselves into what they perceive to be success. Unfortunately, this is where many of us make mistakes. There are no shortcuts to long-term success.

Not everyone plans to systematically build a reputation through hard work on an intentional and deliberate path to higher performance and recognition. So, let's try to answer the question: What does it mean to build a name that is worth more than gold?

I realise that the days of working for one employer for 30 years and then retiring are over. But if I cannot answer some key questions about my current job satisfactorily, I might need to knuckle down and produce the fruit I want to be remembered for, and I might need to do this before I consider rushing off to another new opportunity.

Real success must include the dignity that comes from doing good work and being remembered for that. It must include the satisfaction that comes from making a positive contribution beyond a quick financial gain.

Here is a checklist that you can use: eight must-do's before getting my CV out:

  1. Make sure you create a story and finish the chapter of this part of your journey. There must be a before and an after. People must be able to say that you did this or that and that you will be remembered for...... (So, what story have you created?)

  1. Find out what people in your workplace will remember you for (Are you happy with this right now? What changes do you need to make?)

  1. Make sure there are no broken bridges. If there are, make a list of the bridges that need to be mended or rebuilt before you leave - and act on this.

  1. Ensure that your boss is able to speak well of you. Many bosses withhold praise or thanks, but it is still a worthy pursuit (In which key areas do you need to improve so that your manager can confidently give you a solid reference?)

  1. Engage in selfless acts from time to time. Go out of your way to help your colleagues and your employees, even when there is nothing in it for you (Will you be remembered as a team player or as an island?)

  1. Be patient. Give yourself sufficient time to finish anything important that you have started. Responding to urgency and being busy won't get you remembered but making a significant improvement, or leading change will.

  1. Document your achievements, both great and small. You can keep these as part of your work history going forward (And as you get older, you will remember them fondly).

  1. Document three important personal development achievements you have experienced during the time you have been employed (I.e. in which areas have you specifically experienced growth?)

This checklist presents a healthy balance between doing good work, building a good name and enjoying the rewards.

Few people get all of these right - but it's never too late to start!

According to Warren Buffet, some of the richest men in the world are cold and ruthless people, and he questions whether anyone really loves them? He goes on to say that they might have their names on plaques in hospitals and on walls in auditoriums - yet no one knows them. One could argue that they are emotionally bankrupt.

I would love to get your feedback and experience - please inbox me.

vaughan@commerce-edge.com

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