It wasn’t until I was around thirty years of age, that I started thinking “What is life really all about?” and I had no idea about personal development or what it meant.
A very important times of my life; I was a dad, a husband and had a house, mortgage, a wonderful family and a very good job, even though it was a high-pressure position which often caused a lot of anxiety and stress and I was under a severe amount of pressure, even if it wasn’t always very evident.
The question threw up all sorts of thoughts and emotions and I wasn’t sure what life was really all about to be honest, but something had pricked an interest.
Mark Twain, the American writer, said “The two most important times of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why”.
I think he may have been right, but I knew nothing about personal development.
More Frustration Than Relaxation
I was upstairs one evening after a particularly hectic time, that I started reading about how to meditate and needed some form of escape as I wasn’t playing as much sport as I had been, which was my only time to unwind.
It didn’t go too well to be brutally honest, as I struggled to concentrate for more than 2 minutes, if that. It was more frustrating than calming.
My mindset was all wrong.
Where Did All These Questions Come From?
Out of the blue the question about life came into my head and I started looking for answers. I’m sure it comes to all of us at some point, but many never really find the answer.
In my case only more questions came up. Things like:
“Why am I doing this?”
“How long can I continue?”
“Should I do something less stressful?”
“Am I really enjoying this?”
What started out with a simple question, turned into a myriad more.
The truth was I didn’t know the answers to any of the questions that cropped up and certainly didn’t know what it was all about or how to improve things.
I had never really heard or thought about personal development, but was keen to do something.
It was proving to be not so much fun after all and I needed answers.
A Wrong Assumption
As I’ve eluded to in other posts and in talks, I’ve always been fascinated with what makes us tick and getting the best out of ourselves and others.
I made the very wrong assumption as a young man, that developing reaching my potential would happen as I went through and experienced ‘life’, picking things up along the way. If I played the game, everything would work out all ok.
Big mistake. Very big.
It was very evident here was a gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. I wasn’t sure how to get there, which made it even more frustrating for someone who was expected to know how.
The truth was I had never learned how.
Life was happening ‘to me’ rather than me making things happen and it started to become clear that we don’t improve our situations and circumstances by chance.
In order to reach our potential, whether in our business, our personal life or on the sports field, we have to learn to develop and grow…. but do so INTENTIONALLY.
The Power of Intention
The best description of intention I have found so simply states ‘Intention is the mental state that represents a commitment to carry out an act or acts in the future’.
There is also something which basically says the longer you put off doing something you know you ought to do now, the more likely you will never do it.
It meant starting now.
Guess What Usually Gets In The Way?
Ask anyone that says they wants to do something, especially when it comes to something like personal development, to get started on it, and wait for their reaction or hesitation which usually sounds something like this:
“I’m not sure now is the right time”
“What if I make mistakes”
“I’m not really sure how to…”
“I don’t have the time and/or money”
I’ve been guilty of all of those at some point… I just wasn’t aware of what I was actually saying at the time.
We are guilty of getting in our own way.
The Most Critical Factor Of All
I wasn’t aware of what I needed to know and what I didn’t know, so it was a case of dive in and see, but the one thing that I knew needed working on and changing more than anything was my mindset.
I missed certain things along the way that would have helped me improve in so many areas of my professional and business life and without a doubt, the biggest factor in anything is our minds and the quality of our thinking.
Our minds control everything, whether consciously or unconsciously and in order to improve we need to work with our minds, not against it. Something we’re not taught how to do, which I believe is so undervalued in our development as children.
Also, it’s almost impossible to really improve when you don’t have anyone to help you improve who is worth listening to. That’s the value of a really good mentor.
When the Student is Ready
There’s been a lot of quotes I’ve come across over the years, and at the beginning of this search some made sense and others challenged my thinking further including “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”.
It was time for me to start learning again but from who?
That was part of the problem. Learning from the wrong people can be worse than not learning at all. Over the years I’ve had several mentors, including the amazing John C. Maxwell, who I still follow and learn from today and I’m one of his certified speakers and trainers.
John has written almost 100 books on personal and professional leadership, team and personal development and sold over 25 million copies.
Do Things Really Happen by Accident?
It was on a train going to work one day that I somehow found a short recording purely by accident (or was it?) of a guy talking about having the wherewithal to stop doing something if you were unhappy about it.
He also talked about us being responsible for what happens in our lives and we can either be the cause of what happens or live on the effect side.
I was pretty skeptical about certain things around mindset, especially coming from someone on a stage trying to sell you stuff!
However, I thought I was fairly savvy but it threw me completely. If I was the cause of what happens, why were things not the way I wanted?
That was a kick in the pants!
More questions and few answers.
But I welcomed the audio and looked at is as a catalyst for change. It got me started and for that I’m grateful.
The Quest and the Challenge With Change
Over time, I realised that improving means changing, making new habits and not simply wishing or hoping it will change. There are no microwave results.
Things take time to develop as well as our habits and they certainly take time to change.
The problem is we don’t always like change. The mind is quite happy for us to carry on doing what we’ve always do, which is often why so many people don’t achieve the things they first set out to do.
That’s when I was first introduced to a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which is probably the most successful personal development book ever written. Many people, myself included, read the book and don’t inwardly digest the material first time; it has inner meanings which only come through reading and studying in depth, I believe.
So, When Is The Most Important Time Of Your Life?
There were many aha moments along the way, and I discovered that the most important time in my life was when I had that realisation to change, to improve my results and as a dad and husband, I wanted…. No needed to be the best version of me I could.
It meant improving how I perform as a person.
No one else was responsible but me.
Our results are all stemmed from how we perform.
It means changing the way we think, our perception, the way we feel about things and the way we act.
Of course, there were challenges, plenty of them but without challenges there is no learning of how to handle pressure, implement coping mechanisms and discover where I was lacking, which would simply mean to continue getting the same results or worse.
I sincerely hope this inspires you to reflect on whether you’ve had that inner realisation that there’s more within you and more to come.
A Final Thought…
It only takes one decision…. to improve.
If you feel there is, get in touch by clicking here to see how I may be able to help you.a