November 2013

In This Issue

Personal Development – The Key to Success





Personal Development — The Key to Success

Historically, personal development has been an attribute of individuals that were committed to becoming and remaining successful. In today's hyper competitive market it is no longer optional, it is essential. The days of finding your niche, having a narrow or specialized skill set and withdrawing into that space are gone.

Technology, aggressive competition and the need to build and maintain relationships are forcing us out of our comfort zone. This point was underscored at the recent World Business Forum (WOBI) I attended in NYC. Speaker after speaker presented the data, stories — success and failures, and many issuing a personal plea to attendees to address the changes and demands that are driving change globally. To that point, personal development and life-long learning which are based upon personal values and principles, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge, and being part of communities — online and in person, is not simply something to consider but are survival skills.

To provide perspective and an action plan for readers committed to their personal development, I am sharing a Kison frame work that is applied to individual coaching and corporate learning programs. This model will assist readers create their own integrated personal development strategy.


KISON Professional Development and Coaching Program

The five step process can be used to build organizational capacity by developing and engaging employees as well as a frame work for personal development. It can be used as an implementation plan leading to performance improvement linked to accountability.


The first step in the five phase process begins with defining your goals, aspirations and desires. The counterpoint to this step is identifying what you don't want. This is an important component of the process in order to avoid pursuing goals that others may set for you or ones that you are not committed to or suited for. Serious reflection and consideration creates clarity, defines direction and fuels action. Think of this process as helping to define your "Why".

Why is "Why" so important? Most goal-oriented people think exclusively about "what" they need to do and "how" they will get it done. The problem with that approach is that you can become discouraged and burn-out trying to become successful. Consider Steve Jobs' perspective on purpose and focus as it relates to defining your goals.

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."
— Steve Jobs

Achieving clarity on why something should be done is sometimes more important, and difficult, than completing the task. I have discovered that most people work hard to complete tasks, meet deadlines, and satisfy their boss or clients without considering WHY they are doing this. They function in auto pilot mode. When was the last time you thought long and hard about why you are doing something, whether it is personal or professional? You may be completing a task or working on a project because you have been told to. Not because you want to or are even particularly good at it. That also likely explains your lack of inspiration and excitement. When you find your "Why" it becomes much easier to define your goals.

Consider the following factors as you define your goals and objectives based on your personal why, your experience, education and opportunities available in your chosen field or industry.

Have you:

  • Defined your primary business objectives
  • Defined your primary personal objectives
  • Identified quantitative / objective and qualitative / subjective goals
  • Established time frames for achievement
  • Created a scorecard to measure your progress
  • Identified barriers and challenges to achieve your goals
  • Been realistic in setting goals
  • Assessed and identified resources and support required

For more perspective on this topic follow the link.


Success and increased effectiveness can only be achieved when individuals strive for a balanced and more holistic approach to personal development. Businesses and society in general, have finally realized and are accepting the fact that our E.Q. (Emotional Quotient) is valuable, and even more important in certain situations than our I.Q. (Intelligent Quotient). Traditionally I.Q. or technical ability has been identified as the most important, and in some situations the only factor required to achieve success. That mindset has often resulted in failure or broken relationships because the "soft" side of securing business and maintaining relationships was ignored. Current research is revealing that emotional competence is twice as important as purely cognitive abilities in building trust and creating powerful work teams. Emotional competence is often the crucial factor between success and failure in interviews, client meetings and team effectiveness.

A personal assessment is an essential precursor to the creation of a professional development plan. Here's a checklist of factors to consider as you conduct a self-assessment and strive to align your strengths, talents and abilities with your goals and objectives identified in step one.

Have you:

  • Conducted a personality style assessment (DISC, OPP, Colors, MB)
  • Identified your strengths, non-strengths and weaknesses
  • Completed a personal I.Q. and E.Q. skills and competency inventory
  • Identified personal and corporate barriers or obstacles to success
  • Created a critical path and action plan to achieve your goals
  • Identified supporters and advocates that will assist you to achieve your goals

For more perspective on the impact of soft skills follow this link


It is not the strongest of the species nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

— Charles Darwin

Ongoing training and development is essential to maintain our edge. Professional development can take on many forms. It may relate to technical skills and expertise, special certification, soft skills training in the areas of communication skills, conflict resolution or leadership development to name a few. The term "professional" is not limited to business. It can also be applied to those in the arts, sports and healthcare and many other sectors. We can all name people who were once at the top of their game and because of lack of discipline, commitment or ongoing development, moved back to the position of spectator. Professional development is the critical factor for long-term success.

Have you:

  • Developed a customized personal toolkit that includes resources such as templates, formulas, process, systems, checklists, and reference material to support your development
  • Identified a coach or mentor to provide technical or relational support and development
  • Developed fluency and effectiveness in soft skills such as communication, leadership, conflict resolution and public speaking
  • Created a technical competency plan that enhances your technical knowledge of processes, procedures, tools — job specific soft ware or technology which ensure you remain current and relevant with best practices


To reach your full potential, you should have a coaches or mentors, ideally inside and outside of the organization you work for. It is impossible to maximize your abilities by operating as a soloist or working in a vacuum. Identify a support team for coaching and helping you discover creative solutions to challenges and opportunities for reaching your goals. It is up to you to capitalize on, and tap into, your network. By the same token, if you are able, become a coach and mentor to others to help them grow and develop to their full potential.

To achieve best-in-class performance we must focus our attention on building on our strengths instead of trying to remediate weaknesses. It may seem counter-intuitive but it works. Why become mediocre at a weakness rather than become exceptional in an area in which you are gifted, talented and passionate.

Time is scarce. Devote your time and effort to boosting your skills to create a triple win — you, your employer and your clients. Ensure your coaching strategy is based on your goals, assessment and alignment of your abilities and is tied into your professional development plan.

Have you:

  • Identified a coach to help you increase confidence, credibility and professionalism
  • Identified barriers and issues relating to fear and concern about stepping outside your comfort zone
  • Developed a score card which define critical indicators of success and against which you are held accountable.
  • Been open and willing to hear objective and constructive input that will help make you better or are you living in a state of denial blaming other for you current situation or lack of success.


Be accountable! The most successful people use performance metrics, benchmarks for comparison, and quantitative evaluations to continuously improve their performance.

Performance metrics and reviews should not be used to embarrass but rather provide safe space in which dialogue can take place without making you feel uncomfortable and where difficult issues can be discussed without assigning blame. Break your big goals into specific components. Analyze the details and data that created either failure or success to identify steps for improvement. Also celebrate and recognize achievement. Assess your strengths and weaknesses in order to continually focus on the areas that lead to optimum performance.

Ask questions and focus on understanding. Begin by reviewing goals and then move to discovery oriented dialogue: "When I did this, here was the outcome." "When I tried that, here's what happened." Use performance data and refuse to shift responsibility to some nameless "them." When you accept responsibility for own performance you are viewed as a professional and someone that is committed to ongoing development and improvement. You will also find that your managers, colleagues and clients will offer resources or information to assist you.

Have you developed or do you have access to:

  • Quantitative and objective goals
  • Qualitative and subjective goals
  • A performance scorecard
  • Relevant and current data
  • Critical indicators – Before and After

Beyond The Program

Do you have dreams of what you would like to become, who you want to be and what you want to achieve? The reality is that without an ability to take action, those thoughts and dreams stay stuck in your mind as pipe-dreams, dreams that exist but lay dormant because you don't believe you can achieve them.

Consider the following ideas to help you manage your goals and expectations for your personal development and success.


Visioning is an effective tool for attaining goals. Many high achievers, including professional athletes, use visioning to achieve personal and professional success. A vision is a picture in your mind of yourself having achieved success in the area of your choice. The more clear and detailed your picture, the more effective it will be to you in shaping the rest of your personal learning plan. Not only should you see yourself clearly in the environment achieving success, but you must also imagine how you will feel. Identify key people who may be helpful, learning resources you may need, as well as experiences you may need to achieve your goal.


Be realistic, but at the same time push your limits. Demonstrate to yourself that you have determination and perseverance to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to achieve your goals. Top athletes, entertainers, business people, doctors, teachers, and any other profession or disciple you care to name have done the same to achieve the pinnacle of success.

The harder and smarter you work, the "luckier" you will be.


Preparation is critical to success. This is also true of your learning plan. Make a list of some of the potential barriers that might interfere with the achievement of your goal. Include resources that might be unavailable, lack of time or people who may hold you back. Do you have personal shortcomings that you will need to overcome to meet your goal? Again be honest with yourself. You're in control of your learning. What are some things you can do to overcome some of your anticipated setbacks? How could you avoid the problem entirely? Will you need to create strategic alliances and win the support of potential blockers?


Self knowledge and awareness is essential for effective professional development. Check your attitude, fears, biases and openness to new ideas and concepts. For example, if you believe you "aren't creative" and your challenge requires some sort of creative effort, then you are going to have to overcome a self limiting attitude to progress and be successful. Self talk can be positive or negative — only you can decide what yours will be.


Develop criteria by which you can assess your own performance. How will you prove, to yourself and/or others how you have met your challenges and achieved your goal? You can include things such as successfully winning a sought-after client, preparing and executing a difficult presentation, or the completion of a project. Whatever standard you select, it should be something that can be evaluated according to the criteria you have defined for yourself.


It's important to give yourself a "pat on the back" and reward yourself. Recognize your achievement. Perhaps you'll want to invite some family or friends for a special dinner. Or maybe you'll just have your own personal success celebration, but whatever it is, be sure to do it. You've worked hard to reach this goal - acknowledge it in your own meaningful way.

© 2013 Ralph Kison


Kison   Suite 35, 10551 Shellbridge Way    Richmond BC V6X 2W9    604.284.5133