Personal Development Should Be Your Top Priority

At the beginning of 2019, I was doing some self reflection. For most of my adult life I traditionally reflected on the prior year and made decisions on what I wanted to achieve for the coming year, but 2019 was different, it was pivotal.

As you have learned, my father passed away when I was only 4 years old, and because of that I don’t know who his father is/was. I also never met my grandfather on my mother’s side, he passed away when my mother was a child as well. This is what I was reflecting on in 2019, because that year I was turning 32, which meant I was about to outlive my father by a full decade.

I was filled with emotion, the privilege I had to be alive for my children, and suddenly I was sadden that I did not get much or any time with the men in my bloodline. So like much of my life, it was up to me to break the cycle to create the change. At the top of 2019, I made the decision to do everything in my power to live long enough to give my grandchildren (should my kids have any kids) the opportunity to meet me and know one of the men in their bloodline, and it first had to start with taking control of my health. I didn’t know it then, but it was the start of my personal development journey.

A full year passed, I dropped 30 pounds, and had a healthy resting heart rate. Then in 2020 the pandemic quarantined us in our homes. This situation quickly pulled back the curtains to how unhealthy my relationship was with my kids. So here I was in my most physical healthy state, but I had an unhealthy relationship with the people I love the most, my kids. So the next step of my development was to improve mentally for my kids, and it had to start with me removing my pride and accepting that I was to blame for where we found ourselves.

It took patience, and allowing my kids to blame me and be mad at me. They yelled, threw things, cried, and I let them. I apologized for my actions, my failure, and shared that nobody has things figured out but I wanted to figure things out together. This vulnerability showed them that I was human, like them, and that I make mistakes. These last two years has seen the most exponential growth in our relationship, and I’ll share with you how I did it.

I began to read business books targeted at improving my sales skills, and as I read, I noticed a pattern. These books that I was reading were developing my communication skills which directly correlated to my ability to sell. I was blown away while I was reading Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss as he discussed tactical empathy, which he used with terrorist in hostage negations, and if you have any teenagers you can sometimes feel like the hostage in that situation. Not only did this help improve my sales, but applying it with my kids also improved our relationship, and it was simply because I spent more time listening.

Today, I have a beautiful relationship with my kids. Just today, my 17 year old was crying while she yelled at us. I used tactical empathy, I heard what she had to say and labeled her emotions to better understand how she was processing the situation. Then we hugged, I gave her a kiss on the forehead and let her know that everything was ok. She hugged cried as she held me and we agreed that we will continue to communicate.

I share this with you because it seems that the only time we talk about development is in a corporate environment, while in a personal environment you might be told “you need be better at...”. When in reality we should be using the work “development” and be accepting of the criticism when it comes from someone who has a genuine interest in your “development”.

My hopes is that you will do your best to remove your pride and make your personal development your top priority, so that you can show up as the best version of yourself for your loved ones. The manifest function of your personal development will be the best version of yourself based on what your goals are. The latent function will be an improvement in the way you can show up both personally and professionally, and both will improve the quality of your life.