IntroductionIt has become a practice among millions to merely purchase the huge number of books available on self development and read them. However, nothing will happen, as these books are guidelines for action and are not detailed prescriptions for success. In fact, there cannot be "do this and you will surely get there" prescriptions, as the real world is extremely complex. However, there are five absolutely essential prerequisites for making self development meaningful and purposeful. These are a) love thyself b) determine what exactly you want c) be ahead of the learning curve d) understand nuances of the real world and e) review progress once in three months
Love ThyselfThis looks like common sense, but it is not. We are subject to so many pulls and pressures in real life. We are affected by what others say and think about us. We really do not know the purpose of our life. We end up brooding over our imagined misfortunes.
The simple way to get over this, is to stand before a big size mirror, and say to yourself "am capable and I will do it". One cannot change one's face, as this is God-given. However, one can change his or her response to any stimulus. This stimulus is 100% person-specific. It can be different to different people. For a plus two student, the stimulus could be an urge to successfully crack the NEET examination. For a middle level executive, it could mean something totally different. It could be aspiring for the next promotion. Whatever be the stimulus, the most important point is that only we, and no one else -- none in this world -- is responsible for our own development. It is we who have to understand the particular situation and act accordingly.
Aligned with the self-confidence, is the ability to very calmly sit and observe the answer to this vital question: what is happening to me now? We have bundles of hatred, jealousy, bias, and even enmity with someone that often limits the character of our responses. We are simply put off by the real or imagined set backs at that particular moment. Hence, this analysis is a must to understand what we need to get away from and what we really need to do.
Determine what exactly you wantTwo employees, employed at the same level in BHEL, Tiruchirapalli, decades ago, were faced with the same question. Both were personal assistants by profession. They were in the same grade. They knew that only higher qualifications and experience elsewhere will take them anywhere. However, one of them wanted the safe route. He never thought it fit to take any risk at the age of 32, with children in school. The other guy, with the same family background and with two children, took the course from the National Institute of Personnel Management(NIPM), passed it over a period of three years, quit his job and joined a private sector job, even taking a big risk.
Subsequently, he became a HR Manager with a good Indian multinational, after a decade of service. The first person could hardly become a first level executive, as he had not qualified himself at all. However, he had chosen the way he wanted to live his life.
Be ahead of the learning curveEven at the school level, it is observed that only those who go far outside the scope of the plus two syllabus and learn the basics of everything like calculus and its applications, pass the JEE examination for admission into the IITs.
In the real world, the tricks of the trade are much tougher. Opportunities come only a few times, and one has to milk those opportunities through experience. The aforesaid person, went on to do his law degree through correspondence and when he was qualified, he was given an additional responsibility of dealing with the complicated industrial relations situation in a factory of the same group in Maharashtra. He used all his experience in solving the problem, and making the trade union agree to the settlement that was dished out by the Management. In fact, his skill helped the Management save a clear ten crore rupees, as the new settlement had a clause in reducing absenteeism and in retraining in advanced technologies. He impressed upon the workmen that unless they agreed, he would recruit more of contract labor to do the job. He also announced productivity-linked incentives. Absenteeism touched a new low, and productivity increased two hundred percent.
All this was possible, as his own uncle was a leading HR professional with a leading auto ancillary in Chennai. It was he who continuously motivated the individual to study further. He was in fact sent to the USA to qualify himself in NLP and he became a trained NLP trainer. He was a big internal resource person for the entire group as well.
Triggers for self-development may come from any source, but it is we who are responsible for meaningful action. It is we who should understand what it takes to go ahead. Once this becomes clear, many successful experiences will come our way as well.
Understand nuances of the real worldThis is extremely important for anyone. It is important for students who are in the career planning stage as well. Armed with a good mechanical engineering degree with distinction from the SRM University, Ram ( name changed), wanted to do a good course abroad. His own friend and senior, now settled in the USA, told him that a good course in Robotics from a famous University in the USA will help him get ahead. This guy took up the advice so seriously and cracked all the required examinations successfully. However, the fellowship was not adequate to cover all expenses. A family friend advised the father to mortgage their own house in Coimbatore and pay for their son's education.
It worked. The boy went abroad and was absorbed by a huge auto giant after he got his advanced degree in robotics. He is now well settled in USA.
This is exactly what is meant by understanding the realities, the nuances of the real world, in a particular chosen field of specialization, at some point in time. For example, in the field of Finance, it has become absolutely essential that either an ACS or the ICWA degree should form part of one's resume. Without either of these qualifications, it becomes very difficult to face the competition from the MBA Finance professionals from the IIMs. These professionals are also cost accountants in many cases and hence those without a professional degree are finding it very difficult to survive.
In each and every field, there is fresh competition. There are people with huge and diverse skill sets. The situation cannot be managed if one is not equipped with the skills. More importantly, the required experience is a must and this cannot be compromised. Only these kinds of experiences can result in good self-development. For example, there is this emerging field of "thematic wedding". The bridegroom is dressed as spider man and the bride as say, cindrella or a queen. These arrangements are quite costly, but families want all, this fun. They are prepared to pay extra, to event managers. However, this requires a huge amount of creativity and expertise, and this comes with experience. There are no prescribed rules.
Review progress once in three monthsIn the real world, this exercise is a very complex and complicated one. For, one has to deal with so many bosses, and the pressures of official work can also take a heavy toll on one's health and, consequently, focus. There will be hurdles.
The individual has to learn to cope with these challenges. The BHEL executive had enough family problems and could have compromised at some stage. But he did not. He somehow saw through all his problems, even when he was alone in his job at Kolkatta, and his family at Chennai. These are some realities in the real world, that we all need to face and live with. Running away and doing any compromise at any stage will only pull us down.
Review of the progress is absolutely essential. We need to involve good well-wishers if necessary. However, a quick review will help us understand the real world problems and seek solutions. Single company careers, for example, are now history. It is becoming very difficult to find meaningful slots for good experience. Hence, quitting jobs has become the norm. Yet, only those who add value will succeed.
The most important question of what value one can add and in which job, is person-specific. Hence, the individual needs to understand all the situational realities and then go ahead. There is absolutely no "one size fits all" approach or remedy here.
ConclusionThe real world is harsh. It is always there for only very hard-working, sincere and dedicated individuals. There is no short-cut at all. Self development can happen, only if we are able to understand the realities that obtain in any given situation. A situation analysis, with specific reference to the imperatives outlined above, will always be useful and purposeful at all times.
A good article by the author regarding self-development. As an individual, one should set goals for his life. He should make a roadmap for the same. He should not get disturbed by unnecessary attractions around and should follow the plan. Then only one can achieve the development he aimed at. It is very simple to say but when we really experience we will understand the difficulties in this. There will be many around us who will be watching us and trying to get us disturbed for their benefit. We shouldn't get into the trap of such people and we should mind our own activity. The higher the commitment to achieving the development, the higher the chances of getting it. Improving our skills and getting updated with the latest developments in the field of our work is a prerequisite for our development.