Personal Development

Two areas I want to work on in terms of my own personal development.

1.       Remembering Names.  I’ve publicly embarrassed myself now on at least two occasions by calling people the wrong name – including one of my wife’s former co-workers.  I also forgot the last name of a person who I’ve been in meetings with six times over the past three months.  After I embarrass myself, I’m generally pretty good at remembering that person’s name for a long time.  I’m working on less painful methods to improve my memory of people’s names – and admitting when I don’t remember.

2.       Being Forthright.  It is easy to fall in the trap of talking about issues in vague terms or ducking discussions about difficult issues altogether.  It is especially tempting when issues are unfolding and good decisions are not yet clear.  I am capable of putting a good “spin” on just about any issue.  One of my first jobs out of college included writing press releases for politicians.  I know how the game is played.  It also is my nature to use far more words than are necessary.  My wife keeps telling me, “Say less.  Be more direct.”

I have two goals:  Be more direct myself and, in doing so, help to create an environment in which it is possible to talk about difficult issues – including difficult issues that are highly ambiguous.

One factor that leads people in decision making roles to be evasive is that it is tiresome to get “beat up” by people who jump to conclusions first and ask questions second.  It is even more tiresome when people simply want to “pile on” and have little interest in actually making progress.

In just a few months on the school board, I’m learning I must be vigilant not to let these tiresome experiences deter my efforts to be forthright.  I am sure that my success at being direct will ebb and flow.  My wife is certain to let me know.

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One Response to “Personal Development”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    John, I admire you for acknowledging your shortcomings and for trying to improve them. I do wonder, however, how you can know when people “have little interest in actually making progress.” Is it not possible, or even likely, that the people you view this way either have a different understanding of what constitutes true “progress” or a different set of ideas on how to make progress?

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