“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”
– Albert Einstein –
This is the third in a series of blog posts that talk about success. I had the opportunity to ask the registered attendees for SQLSaturday Philippines to vote for a particular topic that they like best. Since I usually talk about professional development for IT Professionals at the PASS Summit, I provided a list of topics from presentation skills to landing your dream job. This was the one that got the most number of votes: What Your College Education Didn’t Teach You About Success.
You may have figured it out if you’ve been reading my blog posts: I’m a strong believer in continuous personal growth. I believe that healthy organisms grow. We humans were created to grow. That’s why my personal mission statement is anchored on that premise: to help people and organizations grow and develop their full potential. If we are not growing, we are not healthy.
This was the third slide in my presentation about what our education doesn’t teach us about success: CONTINUOUS GROWTH IS REQUIRED. Schools teach students how to answer questions, take tests and finish a degree. Statistics even confirm that almost half of college graduates (I don’t know if the numbers are true or not but the economic side effects do say so) never read another book. If you ask students what they do after taking an exam or completing a semester, they’ll probably say “have fun” or “party out.” Now, there is nothing wrong with having fun or partying out after having a stressful semester. It’s just that we almost stay in these states more frequent than we should.
I like both reading and teaching. Both activities force me to grow beyond what I know and to go outside of my comfort zone. I remember reading all of the required books for my class even before school starts. I also remember reading the Reader’s Digest in grocery aisles while my mom waits in line to pay for the groceries. And, yes, I remember skipping college classes (I hope my mom doesn’t read my blog posts) to be in the library and looking for required reading materials that our course mandates. When all of my classmates are out looking for the required reading materials, guess who they ask first? My home office is filled with books. My tablet and phone both have the Amazon Kindle app with dozens of books that I read while waiting for my next flight or even waiting for food in a restaurant. I have committed to continuous personal growth that allowed me to excel in the things that I love to do.
In order to be successful in life, we have to embrace the fact that growth is required. And it’s not just one time growth. It’s continuous growth. Learning is never ending process. If there is one thing to take away from this blog post, it is to make a commitment to continuous personal growth. Here are several ways you can get started on the road to continuous personal growth.
- Envision where you would want to be in 5/10/15/20 years from now. Begin with the end in mind, as the late Dr. Stephen Covey wrote in the all-time best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you know where you are going, it’s easier to work towards it. I remember telling myself when I was 8 years old that I wanted to be a consultant (even when I didn’t even know what that word meant at that time) and help people solve their problems. And, that’s exactly what I am doing now.
- Have a personal growth plan. I blogged about my high-level personal growth plan last year. When I made a commitment to pursue continuous personal growth, I knew I needed a plan. Reading books and learning new stuff is not enough. I need to create a structure to follow so that I can have and maintain focus.
- Put it in your calendar. If it’s not in your calendar, it is unlikely to happen. I “try” to put the activities in my personal growth plan in my calendar. If I need to learn something new, I schedule the time to study. I still struggle with this because I don’t like the idea of having a full calendar. But while it is hard for me to do, I see results come out of it. My first attempt to be religious about putting my growth activities in calendar was when I was preparing for the Microsoft Certified Master certification. After that experience, I try to keep my personal growth activities in my calendar.
- Enjoy the experience. One reason why college graduates stopped reading books after school is because they find school to be boring. I hated history when I was in school. I didn’t understand why we need to learn history and how relevant it can be in my field of work. But when I started to realize how history affects businesses and technology, something that I’m interested in, I began to appreciate it. In fact, I started to use a bit of history in my technical presentations. When we enjoy the process of learning and growing, it becomes easier to stick to our plan.
Question: Have you committed to continuous personal growth? What are your strategies to fulfil that commitment? You can leave a comment below.