The 4 Keys to Personal Growth — Looking Inward to See Outward

What are the 4 Keys to Personal Growth?

Leadership is, by definition, a role that looks outward. It’s unique in that much effort is spent evaluating the performance of everyone except ourselves. Personal growth requires some introspection and intention.

However, embarking on a personal growth journey is definitely worth it. Investment in personal growth can improve all aspects of your life, including relationships, career and the ability to achieve your goals.

The 4 Keys to Personal Growth

The four items below are a great starting point for anyone pursuing a path of personal growth.

1. Self-Awareness

The first key to personal growth is to develop self-awareness. Self-awareness means being tuned into your emotions, thoughts, strengths, and weaknesses. Solid self-awareness thinks critically about the impact of these aspects on an organization.

Think of self-awareness as a garden, where you pick the weeds and prune the flowers. The weeds are things like fear, greed, stubbornness – anything that adversely affects your ability to achieve your leadership objectives. The flowers are those positive aspects that enhance your ability to achieve your objectives: focus, good time management, patience, etc.

It can be challenging to discern weeds from flowers. For example, it’s been argued that neuroticism is a trait common to the best leaders. Think of Steve Jobs, whose relentless perfectionism is now idolized. On the flip side, Mother Teresa would argue that an abundance of sensitivity is a trait worth developing. However, an overly sensitive or compassionate leader often is unable to see the forest for the trees.

Keep these points in mind as you seek to gain self-awareness:

  • Know Yourself – If you haven’t already, take a free personality assessment. The DISC test is a highly used assessment that translates into your workplace strengths and weaknesses. This is a wonderful tool to discover things you probably did not know about yourself, along with a deeper understanding of your value system.
  • Embrace Feedback – Sometimes the best sources of self-knowledge come from others. Embrace the feedback your peers, family, friends, coworkers provide. The way you are perceived can reveal important growth areas.
  • Leverage Your Own Strengths – Rather than trying to be all things to all people, harness the power of your own unique strengths, and build upon those.

2. Continuous Learning

The second key to personal growth is to embrace continuous learning. In today’s world, lifelong learning and personal development are at the heart of innovative leadership. For example, imagine an Accounting Manager who spends 20 years maintaining company ledgers using paper while the rest of the world transitions to QuickBooks.

Now imagine that her firm is sold to a bigger, more modern firm. This new firm wants to ensure the Accounting Manager is working at maximum productivity, but because she doesn’t understand accounting software, they had to let her go.

A commitment to lifelong learning would have helped the Accounting Manager grow with the times into a productive and indispensable employee. In today’s ever-shifting workplace, lifelong learning helps one anticipate transitions before they’re imposed.

Ensure that you are continuing to learn in the areas outlined below:

  • Technical Learning – Make sure that you stay up-to-date on your company’s own products. If your workplace sells automobiles, for instance, then make sure you learn about and test drives the latest models.
  • Industry Learning – Keep abreast of the industry. Do a Google Search for trade publications or websites with a focus on your industry so that you are aware of things like competition, industry growth/decline, industry advancements, and more.
  • Departmental Learning – The ability of a leader to speak the same language as their department heads will do wonders at being able to achieve objectives. Identify all the departments in your organization, and ensure that at least once per year, you read up on the latest issues facing those departments. For example, you may read an article on search engine optimization so you understand what your marketing department faces.
  • Leadership Learning – This type of learning should, of course, be given the most weight if you are a leader. Leadership and management resources abound. Becoming well-rounded on solid leadership competencies is recommended. The Leadership Habit podcast is a great resource for you, with constantly updated material that is grounded in solid principles.

3. Passion

Passion is the third key to personal growth. Passion is that special something that inspires us or motivates us to keep going.

Find Your Passion in the Workplace by uncovering a few different stones:

  • Industry –  At the highest level, consider the industry you are interested in. What industry would you like you to mold or otherwise be connected to?
  • Company –  Another place to uncover your passion is to consider the mission statements of those companies that you love. Does the company’s mission statement align with your values?
  • Job Description –  Often, it is not necessary for employees to be too heavily stirred up by the industry or company, but rather the job description itself provides plenty of fuel for the fire. If finding passion can be found within your own job role, consider yourself lucky, because this likely provides more chance to sustain the fires of passion than the other methods.
  • Combination –  Any one of the above sources of passion can keep us going for a very long time. However, if you are lucky enough to be in a job, company, and industry that you feel passionate about, then you are poised to make a real difference.

Keep Your Passion Alive by following these helpful steps:

  • Pace Yourself –  It is true that the time window it takes to strategize, plan, and execute a project is being reduced every year. With advances in technology and ever-increasing workforce efficiencies, projects can be up and running in no time. Yet you must keep a close check on the pace with which you expect your projects to be completed or you will likely experience burnout. Imagine the cheetah. He runs short sprints but not every second of every day.
  • Monitor Your Own Ambition – Reading books and blogs and brainstorming with your leadership team is enough to excite anyone. Leaders must be doers, and if you’re a good leader, you are trying to figure out how to execute all of the amazing ideas in your head. To keep your passion alive, ensure that you have the ability to execute with excellence. Focus on making an impact for your organization as a way to keep your own personal momentum going.
  • Avoid Overstimulation – Overstimulation is an imbalance between incoming thoughts and the time it takes to process them. When you’re reading so many leadership blogs that you don’t have time to think about them, then ironically, you hamper true innovation. Some of the best breakthroughs in the business (and scientific) world happen when their inventors turn off the incoming information and simply relax and digest what they have consumed up to that point.

4. Personal Time

The fourth key to personal growth is to manage your personal time. Time management has the potential to be one of the greatest catalysts for personal growth. A leader that masters their time will have greater resilience in their personal and professional life.

Review these tips to keep your personal time in check:

Set Boundaries For Your Day – It’s easy to get sucked into being busy doing nothing. Sometimes we just like to check the easy items off of our to-do list, and other times we have people pulling us in different directions. Either way, determining your most important activities, and doing those first, will change not only your workplace but your life. Watch this video on completing “Big Rocks” first before anything else.
Discern What Is Really Important – Identifying your big rocks may be easier said than done. For leaders and managers, it can sometimes feel that everything is a big rock. Upon closer examination, however, that is not that case. Utilize the 80/20 rule to help identify your big rocks. The 80/20 rule says that 80 percent of your impact will be had with 20 percent of your actions. Therefore, identify those actions that lead to the greatest impact and put your focus there.
Overcome Perfectionism – There is a saying that perfection is the enemy of done. This has never been truer than it is in today’s fast-paced world. Perfectionism is craftsmanship at its finest. The world’s greatest pieces of art, music, theater, food, etc. are wonderful examples of craftsmanship. The problem is, you most likely are not hired to be a craftsman. Therefore, you must find an off-the-job outlet for your craftsmanship, while not letting it interfere with your ability to complete important projects. On the job, a helpful trick can be to set a time budget. Before you embark on a project, ask yourself what a reasonable time would be to complete the project. Then literally set a timer and work to get done within the bounds of the clock.

About Crestcom International, LLC.


Crestcom International, LLC is an international leadership development organization, training more than one million leaders for 25,000 businesses in over 60 countries across the globe. Crestcom achieves this through a blend of live-facilitated multimedia video, interactive exercises, and shared learning experiences. Crestcom implements action plans and coaching accountability sessions to ensure measured development in key leadership competency areas. For more information, please contact your local Crestcom representative found here.