Personal development means being open!
If you are serious about wanting to develop in any truly meaningful way, then you will need first to develop your ability to be open. That means being willing to be honest with yourself as well as with other people. It means having the confidence to accept yourself with all your weaknesses and strengths – and your ability to made mistakes. That isn’t easy and sometimes we need support.
How do you feel when something has gone wrong and you have good reason to think that it is your fault? What about when you have to explain and then apologize for what has happened? It takes strength doesn’t it?
Sometimes we find ourselves trying to be open to ourselves and others; we really want to explore new ideas and the thoughts and opinions of others. But those ideas can shake our sense of security and sometimes we just don’t agree with what we hear. Having the confidence to live with uncertainty and finding the grace to disagree, isn’t always easy
But persisting is the key to true personal development! Being open is never without some risks and it does mean facing challenges.
So how can you prepare?
- First, recognize that it will be uncomfortable but that the benefits are great.
- Practice being relaxed when discussing new ideas; take some deep breaths when you encounter something new, slow down and don’t respond with your immediate feelings. Think carefully about the words you will use when you respond.
- Try to challenge your own preconceptions – next time you are about to express an opinion, take a step back and spend a few minutes thinking the idea through from another point of view.
- Explore the possibility you could be wrong! Just be open to the possibility!
- Make sure you are listening carefully to other people and, in any conversation, let the other person finish speaking before you reply. Use active or reflective listening to understand and be clear about their ideas.
- Work on seeing things from different perspectives. New ideas deserve some real research. Make sure you have the facts and that you understand them – try to understand how they are being thought about.
- You could learn a new skill or take up a new hobby – something completely new. Observe how you learn and what it feels like to make mistakes and then gradually get better at what you do – try to be honest with yourself about how it feels.
- Travel to a new country usually gives you a new perspective. Or you could spend some time in your own country with a community that has a different culture from your own.
- Be prepared to ask others what they think and then accept that they think differently from you. Their views are still worthy of respect. Start with close family and friends – look for what you share and then explore the differences.
- Learn to live with uncertainty – for lots of big questions there are no perfect answers – that is life. And personal development depends on accepting life as it really is.
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