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How to systematically organize your Personal and Leadership Growth

When it comes to your personal & leadership growth, there are the daily challenges at work (or at home) that are designed to give you new opportunities to grow.

However, it is just as important to set aside dedicated time to absorb new knowledge and methods to train and upgrade your mind, as well as nourish and optimize your body to keep you in a well-maintained and healthy state.

Progress is only achieved through systemic, consistent effort over a prolonged period of time.

To assist you with your personal and leadership growth, I devised a framework, the “7 Pillars of Mindful Leadership”. I encourage you to read and review it, as this provides the required context and details to better understand the ideas below.

The article also motivates why using such a framework provides real value. I would summarize the benefits as follows:

  • There is a systematic and layered approach with 7 levels, each being built on top of the other. This gives you guidance and direction when organizing your personal growth.

  • You learn to run first after you have mastered the skill of walking. Similar here, it makes sense to focus on the lower level and fundamental pillars first, and then gradually work your way up.

I have been using it in the past years, and was able to achieve positive and lasting results in all aspects of my life.

I want you to benefit from this approach as well, and therefore I’m sharing more details here to help you learn the basics and figure out how to implement some of these ideas in your own life and personal situation.

Here is how to use such a framework effectively:

Every day there you learn about new trends, methods, products, coaches, or experts from whom you might learn something new. This can be sometimes overwhelming and confusing. It could also be a big distraction, as not everything might be relevant and provides you with results. Focus and discipline is required to make smart choices.

These are the 4 steps that can guide you through your personal & leadership growth:

1) Determine which Topics are important for you to master

I recommend to study the topics that are associated with each pillar first, to give you ideas where your potential for growth is the biggest, then focus on these.

However, there are typically blindspots that prevent you from seeing these topics clearly. I recommend obtaining honest feedback from friends, family, or co-workers. This usually gives you a good idea on topics that are emerging more often. Write them down and create a list, not worrying for now about how to order or prioritize them.

Clearly distinguish between “skills” and “mindset” topics. When talking about personal growth I usually prioritize mindset topics, as this gives me a stronger return on investment, but focusing sometimes on certain skills can also be very helpful.

For example, investing into a speed reading class (“skills”) where you can double or triple your reading speed to absorb information (read a book in 2 hours instead of 4 hours) could be a good investment of your time. But if you have trouble completing projects (“mindset”) it might be more helpful to first tackle the mindset challenges to make you more successful to actually complete the speed reading training.

Unfortunately many leaders put too much emphasis on skills, and not enough on mindset. Finding a smart balance that works well for you is a good challenge to master over time.

2) Categorize these into the “7 Pilars Framework” and Prioritize

As a next step you look at each topic in the list and determine, what category (pillar) this one belongs to.

For example, typically these can be easily classified:

  • Pillar 1: Awareness, being present in the current moment, paying attention, alertness, self-awareness and self-reflection

  • Pillar 2: Limiting thoughts and false beliefs. This is your conditioned, sub-optimally programmed mind in action.

  • Pillar 3: Old reactive patterns. These are usually based on limiting thoughts (Pillar 2), and cause you trouble in real-time during particular circumstances.

  • Pillar 4: Important qualities like compassion, empathy, kindness, gratitude, and forgiveness (to name a few). They can be categorized as emotional intelligence (EQ) and intuition.

  • Pillar 5: Achieving clarity on your essential values, purpose, vision, and mission in life.

These are just a few examples to illustrate the framework. There are also more topics within Pillar 6/7 that can be considered as well.

Let’s do an example:

Assume through feedback you learned that people think you are often becoming very easily defensive in meetings. You write this on your list, and pick the corresponding category. In this case clearly Pillar 3 (reactive patterns)

The list could look something like:

  • Not becoming defensive in meetings (pillar 3)

  • Improving my self-confidence (pillar 2)

  • Increasing my attention and alertness in meetings (pillar 1)

Then I recommend sorting it by pillar, as it makes sense to prioritize working on fundamental pillars first. This will make it easier to achieve progress with higher level topics:

  • Increasing my attention and alertness in meetings (pillar 1)

  • Improving my self-confidence (pillar 2)

  • Not becoming defensive in meetings (pillar 3)

3) Design and define clear KPIs on how to evaluate your baseline and progress

For each of those you will need to think about clear KPIs (key performance indicators) on how to measure progress. This is not always straight-forward. However, the “7 Pillars of Mindful Leadership” comes with suggestions for each pillar.

For example, for Pillar 1 related topics there are KPIs like “Avg. number of Thoughts per. Minute/Day”, “Level of Present Awareness (% of your day) ”, or “Number of Mindful Minutes p. Day” that can be easily recorded and are very helpful.

First you need to learn about these KPIs or possibly create your own. Then you will need to measure the current baseline. Give yourself some time with this process. It may take a few weeks to obtain solid baseline numbers. Based on those, set some ambitious goals for 3 months and 12 months.


Goal: Increasing my attention and alertness in meetings (pillar 1)

  • Baseline: Number of avg. thoughts per minute: 10

  • 3-months goal: 3 month: number of avg. thoughts per minute: 8

  • 3-months goal: 3 month: number of avg. thoughts per minute: 6

  • Baseline: Level of Present Awareness: 2%

  • 3-months goal: 3 month: number of avg. thoughts per minute: 3%

  • 3-months goal: 3 month: number of avg. thoughts per minute: 10%

4) Create a simple Plan (2-pager narrative) that organizes all your Thoughts and creates the necessary clarity

It is helpful to then write all of this down to organize your thoughts and achieve clarity.

I typically use a narrative “2-pager” format (e.g., a Google doc) that I can then easily adjust over time.

The format is quite simple:

I start with the topics, explain for each topic why I think it is important to tackle. Then the KPIs I choose to measure progress, and then also one or more methods that I’m thinking of experimenting with.

You may not have all of these things ready at the beginning, and that is perfectly fine.

For example, some of the KPIs may evolve over time, or you learn about new methods as you’re progressing.

Common Pitfalls

  • Don’t try to make this plan perfect. Keep it simple and practical, to have something written down that gets you started. Progress instead of perfection!

  • Don’t start with the most difficult topics first. Usually these are in higher level pillars. Again, you learn to talk before you learn to run fast. Focus on pillar 1 first. This can be achieved with a systematic approach to mindfulness to train your mind.

  • Don’t just focus on training your mind. Your body deserves equal attention. For example, you won’t become stress resilient if you are not properly nurturing your body through a good balance of nutritional & healthy food, relaxing sleep, and sufficient exercise.

Take Action:

Follow the steps above and create:

  • Study the “7 Pillars of Mindful Leadership” first to understand the ideas and concepts behind this framework.

  • Compile a list of important personal growth topics as suggested above, on which you would like to focus and work on in the upcoming months.

  • Categorize and prioritize (sort) them using the “7 Pilars of Mindful Leadership” framework.

  • Think about a draft of KPIs to measure progress. If you don’t know yet how to do it leave it empty for now.

  • Write all of that down in a narrative 2-pager.

  • Think about experts for each topic from whom you can learn new methods or absorb knowledge.

  • Consider joining a support community like the “Fellowship of Mindful Tech Leaders”. Research confirms that working in a community of like-minded professionals the chances of reaching your goals increases significantly.

  • In case you need more help, I offer fundamental training for Mindful Tech Leadership. This training comprises 4 parts and spans overs 2 months. It provides a solid foundation for training your mind. There is knowledge to absorb in the form of short videos and text. But more importantly you will learn effective methods that you can integrate into your daily life that will allow you consistently make measurable progress. For each part you will therefore work on a challenge and progress to the next part only if you have successfully completed that challenge.

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