Aug. 3, 2023 - Here Are 3 Development Approaches to Consider!

Want to Lead your Life and Career more Intentionally? Here Are 3 Development Approaches to Consider!

Are you content with being a leaf floating along the Flow of the River of Life, barely progressing when going through stagnant water, being bounced around when going through rapids, getting stuck in branches, sinking when caught in a downward whirlpool… [add here any other images that come to mind!]? A flow that is taking you along the already mapped out path of the river bed, a path created by natural circumstances as well as human circumstances, and to an already defined destination, where the river gets swallowed by the ocean…

Or would you be more satisfied and fulfilled if you could be more intentional and be the ONE Leading the Flow of your River of Life, being able to Design the path ahead, and then Build it so that it takes you to the Destination of your choice? By the way: who says you’re limited to floating on water… why not walk, drive on the ground, go underground, or aim for the moon?

Wondering how?

Well, there is a quote that I just love (and yes, I’ve referred to it a few times in the past!):

Chance is when preparation meets opportunity – Oprah Winfrey

Now, are you wondering how you can prepare yourself?

Well, if I continue with the metaphor of "floating along the flow", preparation would be your "mean of transportation”, your “vessel”: some kind of ship if you're on the water, a vehicle with wheels if you’re staying above ground, something with wings if you’re aiming for space, etc… You could also build your own vessel, or adapt an existing one, so that you can move from water to ground to space – whatever you need to Design, Build and then Lead the flow of YOUR Life and Career…

Now, let’s put aside the metaphors and get back into the “real world”…

My perspective is that the equivalent of our "vessel" is our Professional and Personal Development.

And there is so much choice available to us in terms of development!

The “Expert-based” Development Approach

But I’ve noticed that most of these options are “expert-based”.

By that, I refer to development options (both professional and personal) in which the flow of information is from the “expert” (teacher, writer, speaker, manager, and mentor) to you - the person looking for development: university education, professional qualifications, training, books, webinars, conversations with managers, or even some family members and others in your social circle. With each of these options, the conversation is mostly one-way, from the person "who knows" (at least, who's perceived as "knowing better") to you, who receives the information and then decides what to do with it – by the way, have you checked out how often you actually apply that information (or advice), and, when you do, how "motivated" you feel?

Of course, many of the “expert-based” options now include some kind of two-way conversations, to different degrees depending on the option itself, and on the willingness of the “expert” in hearing “non-experts” opinions and perspectives…

The “Self-based” Development Approach

On the other side of the spectrum is what I call the “self-based” approach.

By that, I mean the method that only includes YOU, and your knowledge and experiences to date, but without any external input: self-reflection, meditation. With this approach, the flow of information goes around "in a circle" in your head (or whatever is "your space")… and it can be difficult to expand that circle on your own.

I used to really, really like this development approach because, this way, my perspective would not be interrupted by someone who thought that their perspective was better than mine – which often included social norms and expected career paths. And I know I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now, with all my past experiences and future ones, if I hadn’t used the “self-based” approach so much – because I did not follow a conventional, linear path (or flow of a river) but did my best to Design, Build and Lead my own. This “self-based” approach allowed me to aim for my own Direction…

… But I strongly believed I could have done more, hesitated less, be less worried, if I had known about the “partner-based” approach!

The “Partner-based” Development Approach

By “partner-based”, I’m referring to an interaction with someone who not only is an equal (instead of being more knowledgeable and experienced), but who also provides a space where you’re fully listened to (not just listening to your words, but to your whole persona; and certainly not listening just enough to reply!), where you’re not judged (for having a great, or not so great idea; for thinking differently to most people; for finding it difficult to deal with something that others may not see as a problem; etc.), and where you can develop and express your thoughts in whatever shape or form they come out of your mind! And, even better (I think!), this “partner-based” approach is an interactive and reflective conversation, in which you’re the center of attention, but where the “partner” is able to reflect back to you about what you said, to ask you questions you wouldn’t think of on your own… which allows you to expand your self-reflection in a way you wouldn’t in your own (“self-based” approach) or in an “expert-based” approach.

This may sound a bit strange at the beginning, because:

  • We're not used to having a conversation with someone who doesn't try to "help" us by giving advice, or judging our ideas (without considering our perspective on what we want to achieve or who we really are);
  • We're not used to being fully listened to and to being allowed to develop our thoughts in full, without interruptions;
  • We're not used to being given space just for us and our thoughts…

If you’ve read some of my other articles, or have been interested in different forms of development, you may think that this “partner-based” approach is very similar to life coaching (which, by the way, is also known as executive coaching, leadership coaching, and more!). And you’d be right!

But I'm thinking of something more than just the "coaching framework”.

I’m thinking of other forms of development conversations we could have, whether as part of a program or not, whether formally set up or not…

I’m thinking of ways to expand our reflection, our perspectives, our views… to ask ourselves questions (and to answer them!) that we wouldn’t normally think of… to raise our curiosity… to ignite something new in us…

As you can see, this is something I’m still developing myself…

And I’ll certainly write more about this “part-based” development approach in the future…

But, in the meantime…

I’d love to hear back from you!

  • What do you think of these 3 approaches to professional and personal development?
  • Which one resonates the most for you? And why is that?
  • What is this article inspiring you to do?