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)