Self-development is about choosing to be as curious as you are about fashion, football, cooking, current affairs or cats – about yourself.

It is about directing our gaze from the external landscape to the internal. In short, it is about spending time becoming more aware of who you are and how you make choices, how you relate to life and other people, with the purpose of becoming more comfortable in your own shoes and grow as a human being. Why? Well, quite simply so you can live a more fulfilling life! After all, life is pretty short and research tells us that one of the most common death-bed regrets is not allowing ourselves to be happier. Happiness is then, we conclude, a choice.

 

You are entirely up to you

Headspace

 

Biochemist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard suggests that “Happiness (fulfilment) is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion but an optimal state of being.” It means having a basic sense of contentment, even during life’s inevitable challenges.

Self-development only works for people who are open to and want to actively develop understanding about themselves with the purpose of improving their quality of life and the life of those around them. Therefore, it is impossible to “sell” personal development to anyone.

If we are not ready – and some may never be- we will not engage in the process of reflection and action, that is the foundation for all self- development. Self-development is not about perfecting yourself- instead a large proportion of this work is exactly about accepting our imperfections and cultivating an appreciation and love for ourselves so that our negative perceptions of who we are (we all have them!) don’t hold us back from achieving what we wish for. No matter what, any self-development work takes courage.

 

Success on the outside means nothing unless you also have success within

Robin S. Sharma

 

There are many ways in which to go about self-development.

For example, contrary to the popular image of Yoga as purely a form of physical exercise, Yoga is a 5000- year old intricate system for self- actualisation. Mindfulness, meditation and different forms of therapy are other paths that will heighten awareness of the self over time. Life-coaching, originating from the USA only half a century or so ago, is yet another strand of self- development, which, with the right qualified practitioner can bring transformative results relatively quickly. Coaching is a form of communication that is based on deep listening and powerful questions that helps the coachee to delve deep, get clear on what they want from life, remove what is holding them back and move forward through tangible action. The word coach originates from a Hungarian word meaning carriage. Life-coaching can thus be seen as a safe and nurturing vessel in which to journey on the path of self-discovery.

The practise of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and coaching have slowly become increasingly popular in the West since the 1960 onwards, and with the advent of apps such as Headspace (Treat your head right), yoga in gyms and parks in practically every city, online self-development courses, and an explosion in coaching academies together with a multitude of meet-ups and workshops for the self-curious, this field is no longer for the few, but the many.

Now, the question is -what on earth does all of this seemingly floaty stuff got to do with business?

Well, the link may not be an obvious one at first, but the truth is that developing yourself has huge benefits not only to you and the people in your life, but your career and employer too.

Self-development will (although not necessarily at first) take you to a happier or more fulfilling place, which in turn is proved to (in some cases dramatically) enhance decision-making, creativity and physical and mental health.

Give me an employer who doesn’t value self-confidence, focus, leadership and fewer sick-days.

Economists at Warwick University have found that happier people are 11 % more productive than their peers. Similarly, researchers at Wharton Business School found that companies with happy employees outperform the stock market year on year and an in-depth study of negotiations in business deals showed that those employees who expressed more positive emotions prior to negotiating completed their deals more efficiently and successfully than the neutral/negatively feeling people in the same situation (Kopelman, Rosette & Thompson, 2006).

It is true that understanding more about what makes you tick and what you want to get out of life can, for some, lead to a resignation note – but the next employer or client will reap the benefit of you knowing exactly why you are with them and not anywhere else, and bounce off your excitement and passion for the cause.

If people’s own personal sense of purpose is aligned with the purpose and values of the business they work for, they tend to be more loyal, more service-minded and better at handling adversity.

So, rather than success being the key to fulfilment, research shows that happiness could in fact be the key to success –in which case, investing in self-development for yourself or your employees, could be one of the wisest business decisions of your life.

For more information about Wish Tree Coaching click here