Personal growth is intentional

"If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much". Jim Rohn

When I was young, my parents took care of my growth plan. They decided which schools I attended and helped me pick a career path. Once I graduated and got a job, I thought I had fully grown. The feeling of total growth was further magnified when I landed the most senior position a national staff can hold in the UN system.

I thought, this is it! What else could I possibly want? Little did I know that my personal growth journey was in motion and that I needed to be very intentional to keep the momentum.

President Paul Kagame once put it this way “ you may go to school get a number of diplomas, that is important, but there is something more important waiting ahead, it is how you are going to use this to improve yourself, your society and nation” (emphasis is mine).

I have been talking to professionals around the world, the challenge that most of us face is to know how to grow ourselves, or to actually confirm we are growing - if we are.

At work we used to have what we called “annual personal development plan sessions”. It was a time to reflect, plan our next career path and growth plans. Truth be told, for the most part this time was used to carefully plan for our trainings outside the country.

It was very exciting to travel for training. Upon return, a well written training report would be handed in on time and then, 2-3 days later no body would recall what was exciting.  I have observed that many “hit-and-run” or event based training programs donot constitute growth.

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder why it is not mandatory for all managers to be trained on fundamental principles of growth, yet a manager’s primary role is to grow his/her staff and help them to achieve their potential! No one can give what they don’t have.

By now you are thinking, get to the point, what is Personal Growth? Worth noting, are two elements from the John Maxwell philosophy for growth that I believe underpinthis concept;

The main goal for growth is reaching your potential. John believes, there is a link between your potential and growth. Unfortunately, experts have concluded that most of us use only 10% of our human potential! What a tragedy!

Are you doing a job that you hate? Does it all feel routine and you know you could do better with your life? Have you lost who you are in order to do your job? If your answer is yes, you are not alone- research has shown 80 per cent of professionals are in jobs they hate. Obviously, you cannot optimise your potential while doing a job you despise, hence the need for a growth plan to move from this state.

Growth is not an automatic process but an intentional one.This means that you don’t grow accidentally. One biggest misconception is that we “hope” growth will automatically happen as we go through life. My coach says that“hope is not a strategy”.Random growth is not growth.  If growth means hitting your potential,it would be hard tohit what you have not intentionally targeted.  Growth has to be carefully planned and it should follow a well defined route to avoid falling in someone else’s plan.

As Rwanda leads the way to regional integration and promotes open border policy, we are faced with a challenge of regional and global competitiveness. It is time for Rwandan professionals to identify their niche and their comparative advantage in order to focus efforts of growth in those areas. To do that a growth plan is the answer.

Rwanda needs a workforce that is passionate about growth, people who seek to add value to themselves, professionals who exemplify high performance standards and who are not scared to invest in their growth.

 Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the Minister for Youth and ICT, was quoted to have shared a story of how he self funded his MBA. He said that people questioned how he could do that knowing that his tuition amount could have built him a very beautiful house. His response was “I built the house inside me” - Wow!

When I started my intentional personal growth journey, I listened to one coach who was selling a programme that I wanted to pursue and I thought it was too expensive. It then dawned on me that I could have easily paid that money to buy clothes, or paid it in a restaurant.

I believe this article has made your unconscious mind conscious in your personal growth journey. It is important for one who has embarked on this journey to identify their learning stage, so as to inform their efforts going forward. Most scholars have agreed that there are four stages of learning/growth theory.

. Unconscious incompetence: you have no clue that you do not know.

. Conscious incompetence: you are now aware of what you are lacking in your skills.

. Conscious competence: you know and you are working to improve – giving it much thought.

. Unconscious competence. You have grown much that you simply perform without much thought. This is the stage we should all aspire to be found.

Let me conclude with a wish that we become aggressive growth pursuers who are optimizing our amazing potential!.

The writer is an Independent Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker with the John Maxwell Team. Prior to this, she served as an Operations Manager and Project Specialist at United Nations Population Fund, both in Rwanda and at the UN/HQ, NYC. 

www.ab-leadership.com