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Advice to Your 20 Year Old Self

Does a 20 year old Professional know what Personal Development is?

I wonder??? I certainly didn’t.

I was obliged to follow up my formal engineering training with Continual Professional Development. I went on umpteen training courses over several decades. Some of these courses tackled ‘soft skills’ such as Assertiveness or Handling a Difficult Co-worker.

But none got to grips with my own hang ups: paradigms that I carried with me through life that were no longer helpful to my growth as a person.

So why try to do something about those paradigms?

Especially since I (and most around me) didn’t think they were ‘hang ups’.

Here’s one way to think about it


After a while in your career, you reach an apparent ceiling. There are too many of you to all get promoted. Maybe you don’t like the idea of being a ‘boss’ anyway. Perhaps you want influence without direct power. Perhaps you want to move to another discipline or move from line to staff. Or staff to line.

What do you have to become, to make these moves?

Wiser, more empathetic, more authentic, more rounded, more aware of yourself and the world around you. Becoming these things is the essence of Personal Development.

And it can be learnt.

Awareness is the key word.

Using both halves of the brain. Understanding your unconscious paradigms (ways of behaving) is a vital part of becoming more aware of yourself. Seeing other people’s identities (their point of view) and their paradigms makes you more aware of the world around you. Leading to greater empathy and the ability to lead so that others follow willingly.

You might not obviously need it at 20, but being aware that you need to become aware is going to help you at any age. It will also make you a better leader.

Why not start young? Or NOW?

Listen to a discussion about this with Mark DeJong in his Lean Effect Podcast.