In today competitive business environment, everyone is responsible for his self improvement, learning and professional development. Things are changing fast, and people can no longer rely on the knowledge taught in class or school for attainment of good living and career prospects in the later days. In fact, as the business environment had become more dynamic, the knowledge learned is fast outdated. Thus, constant replenishment of knowledge as well as proactive self learning and development is becoming critical in the future. Overall, the materials taught in ‘personal and professional development’ is highly useful for students to learn how to learn, and to proactively schedule self improvement programs, even when the students had left the school to join the workplace.
Analysis of Learning
In this section, the many areas learned in the course will be reflected upon. This is important as without reflection, it is hard for someone to evaluate and appraise own progress and then to correct or further improve someone knowledge, abilities or behaviors in the areas he wish to improve on. Depending on the several areas outlined below, my self-analysis on my learning progress and improvement will be presented as follow.
Self-awareness. Long before involve in the class, I had been exposed to some materials of self-awareness. However, without taking the time to understand the subject, it is not easy for a person to understand how self-awareness is important for a person. In contrast, after learning the materials provided, I get to understand myself more. That ability to understand myself is very powerful, as I can now learn how I really act, and effectively, more able to analyze my own self. I can be more able to see how many results in life are simply consequences of my personal behaviors. I can start to understand that I am responsible for my own actions and destiny. Besides, by having self-awareness, I can see that my Emotional Quotient had improved. When I get to observe my personal self, I can be better control myself, from a third party perspective. I can become more objective and rational, instead of relying on my emotional impulses to decide what I am going to do when faced with certain situations or events. All these make me less emotional, and then more able to response logically and in my best interest manner when faced with unfavorable events or challenges in life.
Reflection/ feedback. As it is very important for any businesses to ask for feedback from the customers, that is equally true for personal development as well. Self reflection is purely a self feedback process, which I have been benefiting a lot. Although this Is not the first time for me to involved in writing self reflection exercise, by going through several exercise (i.e., repetition), I have become more able to reflect upon my personal self, progress, behaviors, attitudes, mind set, assumptions and goals. In fact, without self reflection, it is hard for anyone to progress. This is because other people may not prefer to provide feedback to me, as they may not want to mention my weaknesses in front of me. Besides, people simply are too busy with their personal duties and works. That means to improve; I have to rely on self reflection to evaluate my personal self more often. Only through that, I can more able to correct my mistakes or inform myself on my wrong doings every day. It is like meditation, and to observe myself from a higher self. I found it a good exercise and intend to do it every night before I sleep. By doing it more often, I can more often sense that my destiny is determined by my own decision, instead of the conditions in the external environment.
Learning process. While we have been learning so long in school, it is rare that we are taught how to learn to learn. This is important skills, as by learning how to learn properly, the learning process can be enhanced. Now I get more interested in learning how to learn, which include several areas such as: how my brain function, how to enhanced my memory, how to choose what to learn, how to determine which should be learned first and how to put the knowledge learned into practices. Having some knowledge in learning process will certainly make someone learning more effective and faster.
Stress management. I tend to avoid from stress totally until I found that relevant degree of stress can be helpful towards personal development. This change my perceptions, as I now see problems or difficulties as some useful events or tools to help me improve. The key is not avoidance of the stress, how is on how I can manage the stress properly. Besides, once I learned that stresses are largely imaginary, I found that I too have the ability to manage stress. In the past, I tend to perceive stress as something forced upon me, where I do not have any chances to escape from it. But that is no longer true. I myself can manage my interpretation, perceptions and thinking about certain events or impulses from the external environment, and then I can choose how I want to control the level of stress to be experienced by myself. That is truly a wonderful experience. Life no longer needs to be a stressful one, but it is more like a game. I determine how I will play such a game.
Interpersonal skills. To be successful, interpersonal skills are very important. From my analytical behaviors, I understand this very well. No successful person can achieve the success without good interpersonal skills. However, I have been facing with difficulties to practices that knowledge learned. My behaviors and tendencies are always passive. I love to think, but slow to act. For this, I must discover the internal power to enhance my applications of knowledge to real world. I must find out some strategies and practices for me to be able to engage in long lasting behavioral change for better interpersonal relationships.
Leaderships. In any organization, nothing much can be achieved by a single person. To be able to lead others are something important for people to compete in the ever challenging business/ career environment. Leadership is the art of leverage via people management. This is an area I particularly weak at, since I am no doing good job in my interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are the pre-requirement of becoming good leaders. However, leadership is a very complicated subject, as from different perspectives, different leadership theories are available. However, I believe that to become good leader, I must have my personal views and philosophy on leaderships. This is to avoid me from clinging to different leadership theories at different time, which will ultimately create inconsistent among my character. For this, my leadership philosophies can be derived from the many theories. I try to stick to what make sense, as that is important if I am going to put it into practices. Besides, without experiencing how the theories work, and without having strong beliefs that some theories will work, it is hard for me to apply them. Anyway, since I already have the awareness that leadership is important subject to be studied and applied, I will choose this as my area for personal and professional development.
As discussed above, leadership is highly important in real life and business practices. Besides, it is also important not for professional development reasons, but also for personal reasons. A good leader will be more able to influence and guide others, which include his family members. That will give stability to a home/ family. A strong leader for the home/ family will definitely prevent chaos and disorder in family (while at the similar time enhance harmony between family members). In workplace, leadership is becoming more important, as it will directly affect how the work is being implemented, and how the projects or missions get done. It is in fact not hard to observe that leadership is a requirement for organizational success.
In order to understand how I can enhance my leadership skills, I will adopt the SMART framework for goal settings. The SMART model for development of my leadership skills will be outlined in the following paragraphs.
Specific. For any goal to be effective, it must be specific. For this, it is important for me to define the areas of develops as well as the steps to develop my leadership skills in a specific manner.
Measureable. For any goal to be effective, it is important for me to put measurable targets. For example, I will set a goal of a certain amount of books/ journals I will read through to gain more knowledge on the subject of leadership.
Achievable. The target set should not be too hard. I must be able to achieve the target, so that I will not be de-motivated subconsciously if the target is set excessively high. However, although the target must be achievable, it must be challenging. A non-challenging target is not good for me, as if it is too easy to be achieved, I will not be able to challenge myself to move out from my comfort zone.
Realistic. Goals must be realistic. The goals that I set below are realistic and it is not hard t understand how the many steps and targets I set will enable me to achieve my mission of enhancing my leadership skills.
Time-bound. All goals that I set will be assigned a certain time period, so that I have to complete it in a certain time period. This is to prevent me from keeping on procrastinating.
Putting all these concepts into my leadership development program, I shall set the following goals.
- To read at least 10 books on each of the topic below: psychology, philosophy, success, interpersonal communication, and leaderships. This is because all these areas are the foundation of becoming a truly effective leader in the later days. For example, as leaders are to deal with people, studying psychology as well as interpersonal skills/ communication is important. Besides, leaders should have vision, asset of encouraging and positive mindset, perceptions and word view, and thus this means studying philosophy is crucial for leadership success as well.
- I will give myself 1 year to finish this step. This means I have to spend my weekends in the library, researching the many leadership issues and to come out with a ‘personal leadership system’.
- To use mind-map tools to summarize each of the books. This will enhance my learning process, and force me to think deeply on the materials discussed in the books.
- I shall evaluate the concepts learned, if they are useful, practical and relevant for me.
- The end objective is to come out with my personal model of becoming effective leaders. With such model, I will more able to apply what is learn in real life, as the model is designed to suit my personal behaviors and mindset. That model will serve as the world view on how I approach issues related to leaderships.
- The completion of personal’s model on leadership shall not exceed a period of one and half year.
- After the theories are put into a model, then I shall seek chances so that my knowledge can be put into practices. For example, I shall try to take the proactive move to lead a team when doing assignments. Not only that, I shall also try to participate in more social events, and but getting more chances to participate in the social programs (example, charity events), I will create more chances for me to apply my leaderships skills.
- There are two ways for me to check my progress. Firstly, I can ask others around me on how I had changed. Secondly, I can reflect upon my experiences, my life events in the future and my behaviors. It is unrealistic to expect that I can do everything correctly in the first few trials, and I must undergo several adjustment and constant improvement to enhance my leadership skills in daily life.
Overall, it can be concluded that the materials taught in the course are very useful for me to be applied in my studies in the future, my professional development or career, and even at my personal life level. All the skills taught, discussed here as well as to be applied in the future are useful. In order to progress, enhance self competencies and employability, it is important for a person to keep practicing and applying these skills (i.e., include learning skills, self-awareness, self-reflection, interpersonal skills, leadership skills and many others). It is not hard to understand how these skills are crucial to a person success, as these topics are the common subject widely discussed in many of the self-help books available in bookstores today. The many self-help and personal development seminars are also organized to deliver such materials. Thus, such a course had effectively opened our awareness on what are taught in the many self-help books and seminars. Most importantly, it opens up a door; spark our interests to learn more about these topics. As the saying goes, teachers open the doors, while it is the student who is to walk the way. This is very true because it is only so little that can be included in such a short course, while the real knowledge on these subject are very wide and keep changing. In short, I perceive that this is a successful course, because it sparks the students’ interest and desires to learn more. The course is successful in providing new context to the students. For serious students, they can surely benefit from such a course, and the only issues remaining are how often they will apply such skills and knowledge in real life. With persistent applications of the knowledge, it is not hard to envision how a person can grow to become very successful in the future.
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