How’s Your Garden of Personal Improvement Coming?

At this point in the summer, many of the gardening efforts made in the spring are coming to fruition – hopefully. Just as I hope you are enjoying fresh carrots, beets, tomatoes and all number of other vegetables and fruits, you can enjoy the “fruits” of thoughtful planning, preparation, and cultivation for personal improvement.

My life’s passion has become helping others realize, maximize, and leverage their ability to communicate, listen, and lead successfully.  From fundamental public speaking strategies to increasing emotional intelligence, the professionals and students I teach all grow leaps and bounds when they dedicate the time and effort to make those strides.  Like the fundamental steps taken to grow a successful garden, growing individual skills can pattern that same approach.

Growing a Garden of New Skills

In the spirit of fruitful summer harvests – for both tomatoes and personal improvement – here are four major steps to consider when cultivating a successful personal development garden:

1. Pick a Spot. Sounds simple enough, right?  Not necessarily.  In fact, this step may seem a bit overwhelming.  Where do you start?  Deciding the best place to start requires an understanding of what it is you want to accomplish.  Your desired outcome will determine what is needed space-wise and where to start.  Do you want to be a more effective speaker?  Do you want to be a better manager?  Work back from there and pick a spot to cultivate that desired result.  Doing so will make your efforts more deliberate and successful.

2. Till Up – Turn Over Your Soil. You’ve picked the spot, now it’s time to plant! Not quite.  Even if that spot has been used to plant things before, it will require preparation – perhaps a gardener’s tilling a spot for the first time.  In either case, the ground you’re working with needs some work before anything can successfully grow.  We need to root out the things getting in our way.  We often need to start fresh – revealing rocks, weeds, etc. that may make it difficult to plant new ideas, habits, and growth.  Perhaps its negative self-talk, bad personal experiences, or a lack of understanding in general.  Whatever it is, till it up – turn it over with a fresh, new perspective.

3. Plant the Seeds. At this point, you typically know what you want to grow.  You’ve determined your desired outcome, now it’s time to plant the seeds that will create that outcome.  Look to targeted books, seminars, coaches, etc. – these are all excellent sources to help plant new ideas and methods.  Make sure to allocate enough space for growth or else your seeds will either not reach their potential, or not grow at all.  Don’t plant all your desired “seeds” on top of each other.  Give each one enough space to properly develop.

4. Nourish Your Garden. Provided you have good soil and sunlight – your responsibility is to make sure those seeds receive enough water throughout the entire process.  It’s not a once-in-a-while type of thing, but rather, a daily commitment.  The same goes for your new skills:  continued nourishment is key to actual growth.  New goals are exciting to talk about.  For many, getting started is manageable (when they know what they want) – it’s the maintenance, consistency, and daily nourishment that can be overlooked, but is absolutely critical for growth.

By identifying, planting, and nourishing any number of skills – from public speaking to effective leadership – you’re making a conscious decision to invest in yourself and those around you. When opportunity knocks and it’s time to stand and deliver, it’s also time for personal improvement. We grow new skills not because it’s easy, but because it’s necessary to achieve our potential.

Get started on your growth today – take the necessary steps for a successful result.  Learn more about how to get started by reading my blog “The 8 Steps to Success.”