How to Have the Courage for Personal Growth

Why is a Personal Growth Plan Scary?

Most people don’t have a personal growth plan. They stumble through life, with no sense of purpose—or worse, they settle for what they have and bitch about everyone who makes a different choice, a choice to grow throughout their lifetime.

Why do people settle for the crumbs when they could have a seat at the table?

Some settle because they don’t know how to grow. They want to, but they don’t have the tools to transform their life.

Most people seem to settle for less than their full potential out of fear: fear of failure, fear of success (it’s a real thing!), fear of change, fear of the unknown—these powerful emotions grip us by the throat, squeeze the life out of us until we panic and crawl back into our comfort zone, and then slip back into the shadowy recesses of our mind where the fear lays in wait, coiled like a viper waiting to ambush our next attempt at anything ambitious.

It takes an extraordinary amount of courage to face these fears—and it all starts with facing the reality of your life. You aren’t where you want to be because of the choices you’ve made.

The courage to own your choices and their consequences is the first step to developing a personal growth plan. As long as you hold to the mistaken belief that outside forces control your destiny, that your present condition is the consequence of other people’s behavior, that you are not responsible—these erroneous beliefs are the shackles on your mind that hold you in the fear trap. You will always believe you aren’t good enough, you will always be jealous of those who have more shiny toys, you will always be afraid you’re missing out, and you live a life of fear balanced with regret.

You can choose a different path. You can choose to live a meaningful, well-lived life, full of purpose, joy, and rich in relationships and accomplishments.

That choice starts with recognizing you aren’t who you could be, that you are where you are because of your choices, that you have the power to make different choices, engage in learning new behaviors, learn how to take control of your life, learn how to reflect on your thoughts and expand your awareness of your potential.

That is scary—one rollercoaster after another, constantly looking failure in the eye and asking, “What lesson are you going to teach me today?”

Most people don’t have that kind of courage.

Click here if you think you do, and would like more information about how we can help you.

How to Develop Leadership Through Influence

How to Develop Leadership throu Influence Graphic 12JUN2017

“Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.”
John C. Maxwell

These words ring in my ears. I look around the competitive spaces I play in, searching for those I influence—and those who influence me. I create mental maps each time I do this, tracking how the map changes over time. Am I gaining or losing influence? With whom? Who is gaining influence with me and who am I breaking free from?

A lot of people are confused about leadership. They look at leadership as positional. You are a leader because your title or role says so. That drove me batty as a kid. I’d ask a teacher “Why?” and they would reply “Because I said so!” The teachers tried to use their position as the basis to change my behavior, but that didn’t work with me.

There are some other myths about leadership. One is that leading and managing are the same. A couple of years ago, Tom Peters and I had a Twitter conversation about this— and I still disagree with Tom. There is a difference between a leader and a manager. Leaders influence people to follow while managers maintain the structure of the organization: the business systems, processes, and procedures that allow an organization to achieve their mission.

Many people assume that the most knowledge makes the leader. I haven’t found this to be true—often the people with the most knowledge in the room lack the people skills to influence others. It is true that you can’t be a leader without any knowledge, but you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room.

Some people think being out in front of everybody else makes you a leader. That’s also wrong. I like what one British officer wrote in his evaluation of a lieutenant: “His men follow him only out of sheer curiosity.” You have to have people who follow you with the intent to act on your behalf to accomplish your mission to be a leader.

How does a person become a leader with influence?

There are several elements that help leaders create influence:

  1. Your shared values.
  2. Your ability to build relationships with other people.
  3. Your capacity to learn.
  4. Your ability to make effective decisions quickly.
  5. Your experience in volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous (VUCA) situations.
  6. Your track record of success.
  7. Your competence as a leader.

If you can’t influence someone to give you their discretionary effort beyond the minimum contractual obligations, to help you accomplish your mission, you aren’t a leader.

When you can lead a team when you don’t have any leverage over them, you are a true leader.

Click here for more information on how we can help you and your organization become better leaders.

How Does the Coaching Process Solve Your Problems?

Before I tell you how the coaching process can solve your problems, I need to do something else first.
I need to dispel myths about professional coaching.

It is not training. True coaches don’t tell you what to do, except in rare circumstances and only with your permission. How can a professional coach help you solve your problems if they don’t teach you how to do something?

It is not mentoring. A professional coach doesn’t look over your shoulder. A professional coach doesn’t nit-pick your mistakes. And a professional coach doesn’t tell you when you are wrong. How can a professional coach help you solve your problems if they don’t tell you when you make mistakes and how to correct them?

It is not therapy. A professional coach does not explore your past seeking answers. The process assumes you are a complete person who is creative and full of potential. It doesn’t assume you are a broken thing that needs fixing. How can a professional coach help you solve your problems if they don’t search your past to discover the roots of your behavior?

The answer lies in the coaching process. This is a designed relationship focused on you. The focus is on your agenda, your goals, your definition of success, your purpose. The designed process assesses who you are today and who you want to become.

The coaching process brings you to an expanded awareness of your potential. We challenge you with questions. These questions cause you to think about your problems and possible solutions in a new way. What are the benefits of your expanded awareness of the nature of your problem and possible solutions? It allows you to make better choices, decisions that are thoughtful and take actions that are meaningful.

That’s the other part of the process. Professional coaches hold you accountable to execute the behavior you said you would—not what we think you should do, but what you said you would do.

That’s how the designed coaching process, delivered by a professional coach, helps you solve your problems.

For more information on how coaching can help you, please visit us at the Dillon Group’s Optimal Human Experience page or on LinkedIn.

Attitude Influences Actions

Your attitude is probably the biggest determinant of your success. It is your mindset- the way you perceive the world and how you interact with that world. Watch as Brett Dillon discusses how your Attitude Influences Your Actions.

How to Develop Yourself

OHE Character Graphic

We all have the ability to become more than we were yesterday. It doesn’t always start with a massive change, in fact, that might hinder your development if you can’t maintain your self-discipline. Instead, consider small things at first before moving to larger goals.

In my personal life I hit an all-time high weight of 250 pounds. When I finally decided to change my life, I told myself I’d go to the gym every day until I got down to a healthier weight. The first week I started working out, I went to the gym one time. I ran for five minutes and walked for another twenty minutes. The next day, feeling sore and out of it, I decided to give myself a break. Then I did the same thing the next day- because work made me tired. By the end of the first week, I felt like a failure. I set a goal to get healthy by going to the gym every day…but I didn’t even go after that first time. I sat at home.


The issue was I had set too high of a goal. How can you expect someone to go to the gym every day out of the blue if they’ve been sedentary for most of their lives? In fact, pressuring myself to go every day had a negative effect on my self-esteem. I couldn’t hold myself to my goal, I’m weak, I’m terrible. But I realized that the goal was too much for me, considering where I was starting. Instead I went twice a week. I got myself to run for ten minutes each time. Then fifteen. Then twenty. I started to use some machines to change things up. Then I added another day. And another, until I was going four to five times a week. By the end of the year I had lost 70 pounds and weighed as much as I did in high school.


What I gained from this physical development was more than the ability to run further and faster, or pick heavier things up. I had practiced something I preached most of my life – that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it (within reason). That part of my journey did something more than get me healthier. I strengthened my self-discipline, which motivated me to go to the gym even when tired and I wanted to sit down. I overcame doubt, because holy cow- I lost all that weight and reached a goal.


Above all: it strengthened my character. I knew I could fail each time I went to the gym, but in the end I was able to do what I set out to do. My journey started with failure, and ended with success. Remember, oftentimes what you do is actually a component of the real development. You might set a goal to read one book a month. But what do you learn from doing that? Self-discipline, time management, and, as a benefit, you’ve learned something from the book.


So what are some ways to develop yourself?


1) Learn a Language


Most of us dream about learning fifty languages and talking to people all over the world. Nowadays we have these devices that let us reach out to people through the Internet across the world. You don’t need the latest copy of Rosetta Stone- you can download a free app called Duolingo.


What I like about it, besides being free, is the broad spectrum of languages you can learn. Spanish, German, French, Polish, and plenty more are on the menu for native English speakers. Beyond that, you don’t have to be “serious” about learning the language. You can spend five minutes a day picking up small, usable phrases and words. Like I said above- what you do to develop yourself is often a component of the real development. With this app, you can pick up parts of a language- but it keeps you doing something different. You become disciplined because you want to spend that five minutes learning something. In the end, you’ll likely take more time to learn the language, and that can open up more personal and professional opportunities.


2) Read a Book


I mentioned this above, but I’d like to narrow the focus some more. I don’t suggest you read every book you come across that sounds interesting. You might wind up in a spiral of reading more and more low-quality, self-published books. They repeat the same story and characters using different names.


Read books that challenge your comprehension or develop your understanding of different topics. You can sit down with a book you’ve been wanting to read for ages. If you set a goal to read a book a month, you might want to select that book based on how it can develop you. Some suggestions for books include the following:


  • 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
  • The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason
  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  • Focus by Daniel Goleman
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track by Richard P. Feynman
  • Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter
  • Play by Stuart Brown with Christopher Vaughan
  • Tribes by Seth Godin
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert


Just remember to take handwritten notes on important things in the book you’re reading. This helps you recall things you’ve read better. Happy reading!


3) Hire a Coach


There’s a difference between a trainer and a coach. A trainer will give you answers, and tell you what to do. They’re Moses coming from the mountain with laws to follow. A coach will ask you questions, and help you find the answers yourself. This will lead to a point where you can take charge of your own development and no longer need a coach. It seems counter-intuitive to develop your clients to a point they don’t need your services, but a real coach cares about helping you become self-sufficient.
If you’re in need of a leadership coach, Optimal Human Experience can help you. Contact us today for more information on our coaching practice!


Written by Connor Dillon, Graphic by Ora Cevallos