Identifying Ideal-Self: The 1st Step in Successful Learning Strategy.

I was recently considering the idiom, “It’s time to face the music.”  Some say the term references a military ritual of being “drummed-out” as a consequence of one’s behaviors or actions.  It seems an appropriate term for taking stock of my own personal development, a ritualistic drumming-out and retiring of the old me, as a way to make room for the ideal me to emerge.  I rather like the symbolism...rat-a-tat-tat…of facing up to the consequences of my actions.

Richard Boyatzis, a renowned Emotional Intelligence researcher, outlined a process that is at the crux of leadership development that he calls self-directed learning.  Boyatzis answers the question, what is self-directed learning with the following definition.  “Self-directed learning is intentionally developing or strengthening an aspect of who you are or who you want to be, or both.  This is the basis I use for a powerful model of Individual Development Planning (IDP).  The first step in successful adult learning, according to Boyatzis, is for individuals to have a strong image of their ideal self -  and managers beware, it’s not about the ideal self you want for the individual, but rather who the individual sees as his or her best possible self.

What I know for sure about my ideal-self is that she’s congruent with her values. I began working on my own plan recently, and this need to create a plan grew out of a sense of disconnection to my ideal-self.  I “faced-the-music” and realized that there was an aspect of myself where I felt incongruent.  The tension that was created between my real-self and my higher-self became too much to bear.  Once I gained clarity and a sense of urgency, I put together a personal development plan that would close the gap.

I have been working consistently on this plan in various ways for the past two months.  While I don’t have a formal Individual Development Plan, I do have a documented set of activities that I am engaging in every day.  Like anyone who has an IDP that is a living document, there is a price to pay. The cost associated with making this shift in my life:  time, tolerating discomfort, self-examination, letting go of pride, being extremely intentional, consistent study and reading, and extreme vulnerability.

What am I gaining?  I feel more rooted and connected to myself.  I am deeply aware of standing strong but with my heart wide-open.  I am more optimistic about the future. I’m paying attention and seeing my patterns of behavior, but not from a place of judgment, rather from a place of love and compassion for myself.  I’m making more of my choices consciously; deciding what works and what doesn’t based on who I want to be.

The soul searching that is necessary to identify ideal-self - taking stock of who I am today and deciding what I am willing to do in pursuit of being the best version of myself - is not for the faint of heart.  I feel challenged every day.  I cringe some days when the alarm goes off because in those moments I want more sleep and less study, more unconscious time vs. self-reflection.  It may not be easy, but it is deeply satisfying.  I feel liberated, as I pursue the freedom to be more of me.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

Tags: Development Plan, leadership, What is Self-Directed Learning?, Blog, emotional intelligence, Individual Development Plan, Leadership development, Adult Learning, Change Management

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