One of my favorite email newsletters is Breakfast with Fred. His newsletter today was powerful ways to grow yourself into a better person and a better leader.
I’m unable to find a way to link to it, so I am duplicating his newsletter of 16 Feb.
Self improvement is not short-term. It is a way of life. We can do quick sprints with shots of motivation, but it won’t last. My friends call me Fat Fred for a very good reason —-I haven’t adopted a Svelte Smith way of life. I eat grapefruit for awhile, then lapse back into gravy on the mashed potatoes.
Make a plan to change your thinking. Make a plan to make self-development second nature.
I didn’t have the advantage of a college education, a monied background, or a network of contacts. But, I knew I wanted to grow and to make something of myself. I knew I needed a plan. I analyzed my strengths, looked for mentors, and set a life mission. For me, my epitaph will read “He stretched others.”
How does a young man from the mill district of North Nashville do this? Here are four support posts in my development plan:
1. Read- We cannot be informed unless we read. Unless we are informed, we are not improved. However, reading must be in line with our development objectives. I read broadly, but with discrimination. For example, I read the classics to stretch my mind, improve my vocabulary, and brighten my personality. I read the scripture to strengthen my values and keep me focused on truth. The old phrase, “Leaders are readers” is a simple way to say it.
2. Associate- We are all chameleon-like to some extent. We take on the habits, actions, and thoughts of those around us. Therefore, it is important to match our objectives with our associations. It is not social climbing to identify and attach yourself to those who are higher than you and accomplish more than you do. It is just good sense and good judgment. If you want water, go to the well; if you want knowledge, go to the wise.
3. Speak – The ability to speak is important in all areas of life. Accept all speaking opportunities and then prepare. I actually enjoy the preparation much more than I do the delivery. As I work on a talk I am “riding under the whip” and this results in growth. Even if the talk bombs, no one can take away from you what you have learned as you prepared. Speaking will give you poise before a group and poise before many results in poise before individuals.
4. Write – One of my favorite quotes is from Francis Bacon, “Writing makes an exact man.” It is impossible to jot down on paper an understandable statement until you first understand it. In speaking you can use gestures, voice inflections, eye contact, etc. and massage your point. On paper, it must be exact. My mentor, Maxey Jarman, always said “nothing is definite until it can be written down.”
As we develop, we are constantly surprised and excited by opportunity and challenge. A growing life is never boring.
This week think about: 1) What is my personal plan for self-development? 2) What is the latest book I’ve read? 3) What current thoughts would writing clarify?