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The basics in personal development plan and the process of a continuous personal
In a personal development plan trust, recognition, motivation and the importance of continuous
personal development growth is essential. This is supported by Maslow’s theory that human beings
progress through a hierarchy of needs until self-actualization is reached. The simile drawn for this
process is to build an emotional bank account as defined by Maslow. To build these emotional bank
accounts decision-making and self-actualization are the main components.
With a proper personal development plan people have gone a long way achieving self-actualization.
The flipside of this personal development growth is that there is no perfect decision nor can
decisions be made lazing around.
When difficult decisions need to be taken the average person goes wrong by solving the wrong
problems. The hazards are characterizations of decision where objectives become narrow and only a
few alternatives are taken into consideration.
Bad decisions are made because situations are not considered in a broader context. This leads to
developing tolerance and accepting problems. Choosing solutions from decisions is more a habit
than figuring what decisions should be addressed. The easy way out is to do what comes naturally
and not question the issues as this becomes an emotionally-easier decision.
First define the "decision problem". A good solution to a well-posed problem is superior than an
outstanding solution to a poorly-posed problem. Addressing the problem correctly is essential and
in the course of arriving at a solution the situation may change and the problem becomes a new
problem while the situation doesn’t change.
Focusing and working on the right problem is essential but can be associated with the pain and fear
of error in judgment. In formulating a Personal Development plan, chances of both good and bad
decisions, the fear of failure and willingness to get experienced through mistakes helps in getting
closer to self-actualization. The tendency to ask questions repeatedly may be annoying but it is a
sure shot method of getting comfortable with the process of proper decision-making.
On the way to success, there are no short cuts and it starts with getting comfortable with failures.
While creating a proper personal development growth plan thickening the emotional skin and
getting comfortable with failures on the way brings dreams to fruition. These form the absolute
basic tenets for high-performance and fulfillment.
As I’ve written, while travelling I get caught up on my reading. One of the articles I recently read
was about Dr. Abraham H. Maslow. The journals he wrote in 1962 were recently re-released. As a
freshman in university in 1963, I studied Maslow - before I flunked out. His "Hierarchy of Needs"
is now legendary in the world of psychology. Maslow’s work has its own website, and I recommend
you look at it (EYPsychain Management). He is highly recommended by many, including myself.
The reason I’ve always like Maslow has become more clear to me since I entered the world of
coaching in 1993. His 1962 book Toward the Psychology of Being describes the theory that human
beings progress through a hierarchy of needs until they reach a point of self-actualization. In other
words, trust, recognition, motivation and the importance of continuous improvement in life. It’s
very much like the emotional bank account you’ve heard me talk and write about ad nauseam. He
makes it sound more scientific.
People I’ve been in business with over the years have gone a long way toward their own self-
actualization. I did myself more than 20 years ago when I decided to get my head screwed on
straight in 1976.
Another article I read was on "The Perfect Decision" by an entrepreneur. Or more basically, there IS
NO perfect decision, but neither are decisions made by the seat of your pants. Part of self-
actualization and building emotional bank accounts is the act of decision-making.
What does the average person (you) do wrong in making difficult decisions? You start to solve the
wrong problems. You jump at the first (easiest) characterizations of your decision, so your
objectives are too narrow and you consider too few alternatives. Now, by this I certainly don’t mean
to Lotus 1-2-3 a question to death. What is meant is, because of inexperience, we look at a narrow
scope of outcomes. Of course the answer to this is an experienced Board with a well-respected and
battle-hardened (and in my case, extremely charming, affable and saintly!) Chairman and Mentor.
(Some of you will think I’m kidding.)
Bad decisions are made because inexperienced people don’t look at situations in a broader context,
because it makes them uncomfortable. For example, you make decisions from childhood (2 or 3-
years-old) with no training. We get into bad habits, we learn to accept the ways problems are given.
So you are choosing solutions from decisions given to you by others. After 20 to 40 years, we’re
pretty much in that habit rather than asking ourselves what decisions we should be addressing.
I’ve said it’s not easy thinking about making hard decisions. The easy way out is just to do what
comes naturally and not trying to question the issues more broadly. This is another way of saying
you make the emotionally-easier decision.
The first thing you need to do is define the "decision problem" you are really facing, i.e., what it is
you have to decide. A good solution to a well-posed problem is usually far superior to an
outstanding solution to a poorly posed problem.
Now the real question is, how do we know we are posing the problem correctly? One - our mentor!
Two - perhaps, after a lifetime of messing things up, through bad decisions. Or three - by asking
yourself, "is this what I really need to decide? Is this the right problem?" As you well know, after a
while you are in the course of deciding the situation changes and the problem becomes a new
problem. And sometimes the situation doesn’t change, but your insights into the situation do.
As you all know, being a minority shareholder in a private company is like kissing your sister. For
most of you, I’ve had little to do with your decision-making process. For a few of you, I’ve had
considerable input. I’ve in no certain terms probed your objectives, goals, interests, fears,
aspirations and at times, helped you psychoanalyze yourself, asking what you really want and
understanding your basic desire and continually probed, probed, probed.
Now, if you don’t know if you are working on the right problem and you don’t listen to the
experience of your mentor and/or board, what happens? Very few people focus on whether you are
working on the right problem. Why? Because to focus on the right problem normally is associated
with the pain and fear of error in your judgements —- a big mistake! There are good and bad
decisions and no more than fear of failure and being willing to become experienced through making
a lot of mistakes. The more you get closer to self-actualization the better your choices.
At this juncture, I could write volumes about inner peace and the fulfilment of life’s meaning, but I
won’t! Some of you (alumni of other programs) could also write these volumes. In fact, some of
you have - in your emails to me!
A colleague just called for some assistance. The advisor for the seller with whom he’s been
negotiating has just been fired. What now, Dan? What Would Dan Do? WWDD?
It’s funny what I think of when I get calls and emails from you. I remember how this particular
person was difficult to be sold on QLA. He purported had a partner who couldn’t take action. Being
British, he kept trying to convince him. He came to the Guthrie Castle Seminar and still tried, for a
while, to get his partner to commit. Finally he said he’d go forward without this partner!
Don’t get me wrong. This person had a million questions himself about attending the Castle and
moving forward. At Guthrie he had another million questions - he’s an engineer and must
understand! As far as I can remember, we’ve had one Board meeting at Guthrie. I’ve helped
interview one or two of our Board members and we have four or five Board members. There have
been two or three changes on the Board. I think we’ve changed accountants at least once and we’ve
had the same lawyers (I think)! He now asks less and less because he is more comfortable with -
In recent years, various colleagues have taken me to dinner or for coffee from time-to-time when
I’m available. They also listen to me. Sometimes I give very specific instructions and other times I
give general guidelines. Sometimes my sage input is difficult to follow, as many will attest to. But
as someone who has had any success using QLA, you already know you have to get used to failure
and rejection. This is not to say you become comfortable with not completing your goals. What I
mean is you must get comfortable with failures on the way to bringing your dream to fruition. You
must thicken your emotional skin. You must become more comfortable with the failures you
experience on the way to success. Hopefully all of you understand this absolute basic precept to
being a high-performance and fulfilled person. You’ve heard me say, get successful and you’ll feel
good about yourself!
Do you think Richard Branson, Donald Trump or Ross Perot care the same way you do about what
people think and failures? I don’t think so!
Every day of the rest of your life is a new test! How will you score? You’ll score great if you live it
like it’s the last two minutes of your last World Cup / Super Bowl.
To a prosperous and emotionally fulfilling life,
P.S. To quote Jerry Springer, no matter what your age (pass adolescence) you are responsible for
your own actions, irrespective of the actions or inactions of someone else. Pass the age of legal
reason (18 in the U.S.), you and only you are accountable for what you do or don’t do. Remember:
in the words of a great, all-knowing soothsayer, "All people are self made, only successful people
talk about it!"
P.P.S. Ross Perot - "Success is on the razor’s edge of failure."
P.P.S. I did ultimately
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