One Shot, One Kill: Targeted Self-Development

First thing every morning, I scan the “Twittersphere” for the latest and greatest thoughts and resources.  I recently came across an article by Jennifer Sertl, in which she promotes a self-knowledge exercise she calls your “Elite 18.” Simply stated, it’s a self-developed listing of those individuals outside of your current peer group from whom you drawn inspiration and aspiration. It’s a great idea, particularly as a foundation for targeting your own development, both from a knowledge standpoint, but also with regard to articulating the type of person and professional you’d like to be.

One of the hurdles of self development is knowing how best to winnow down the multitude of topics and knowledge areas from which we could individually grow. Too often, without a true sense of where our own skills, interests, and passions lie, we turn to the book du jour, recommended on the pages of our favorite professional periodicals and websites. Not that this is a bad way of staying on top of the latest trends and ideas in our field. But it’s frequently a vine that quickly whithers when our interest wanes or the next popular idea emerges. Then it’s back to square one.

The fact is, there are more books, articles, YouTube videos, and TED talks than most of us can get through. Sure, we can take a shotgun approach to which ones we pick up, or we can adopt a more strategic approach. We can become self-development snipers, honing a “one shot, one kill” accuracy to where and how we grow professionally and intellectually.

Whether using an approach like Ms. Sertl describes or not, it is useful to spend time up front determining where you can get the biggest bang for your buck…and your buck is typically an effort and energy resource.

So, your challenge over the next week is this:

  • Block out time – I’ve said it before. Don’t take for granted that you’ll find time throughout the week for this. Actually at least 30 minutes on your calendar and stick to it!
  • Create your own “Elite 18” – These can be living or deceased people. The point is to identify those individuals who engender aspects of life to which you aspire.

or, if the “Elite 18” doesn’t appeal to you…..

  • Hold a personal brainstorm – Allow your focus to alternate between professional ideals and goals and personal attributes toward which you want to move.
  • Research thought leaders – Instead of casting a wide net, target the individuals or ideals you identified to determine the action planning needed to become the person you want to be.
  • Schedule regular self-development time – Put time each week toward self-development. Aim for an hour every three days as a minimum. Spend this time reading, watching noteworthy talks and presentations, and listening to podcasts. But make sure the resources you choose move you in the direction of your self-development goals.
  • Hold yourself accountable – Many of us establish placeholders on our calendars, but too often allow other “priorities” to bump these reserved times. Nothing will hold more long-term value than your own self-development. So, make it your #1 priority, and stick with it. The rest of your calendar will benefit from your dedicated, and continuous learning.

Despite the myriad of great new books and trends that emerge nearly weekly, pay attention only to those that move you personally and professionally toward your individual self-development goals.  Trust me, if the rest are that impactful, others around you will educate you as to their meaning.

Remember, one shot….one kill.  So, put down the information shotgun and become a self-development sniper!

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