Continued Personal Development – Part 2

Continued Personal Development – Part 2

This is one of a series of blogs written specifically for those people in small businesses who are responsible for winning sales. These people will often have other roles and responsibilities which requires them to be very time-efficient during their selling activities. Larger businesses are likely to employ one or more full-time salespeople and this blog series is also written to help these people.

Last time, I looked at how the brain is like a muscle which needs regular exercise in order to operate efficiently. A good exercise, which you can use to identify creative solutions to problems, is called Mindstorming. This will also give your brain a good workout and is popular with successful people.

In addition to using the brain muscles regularly, successful people also know where their careers and lives are heading. They set goals and use creative thinking to find ways to reach them. They are also avid readers of (auto)biographies, motivational books, industry texts and management books. For those people who travel extensively, audio books and motivational CDs are excellent “food for the brain”.

Just 1 hour a day

How much time should you devote to reading & personal development activities?

One good rule-of-thumb to use is the “4% rule”.

Take 4% of your income and reinvest it in yourself, in your own personal development. Buy traditional books, ebooks and CDs. Attend seminars and conferences to network with others in your industry and to keep yourself up to date with the latest developments.

Spend 4% of your time, about 1 hour a day, on personal development activities. Over the next year, if you adopted this suggestion, you would complete 365 hours of personal development activities. Based on a 7½ hour working day, this equates to 48 extra days of learning.

Imagine how quickly you will progress in your industry if you invest in 365 hours of personal development over the next 12 months. In no time, you will rise to be in the top 10% of people in your industry.

Given we all lead ever more hectic lifestyles in the 21st Century, where do we find an extra hour a day for personal development? This is a valid question and it doesn’t have an easy answer. Firstly, you have to analyse how you spend your time in an average week. There will be some tasks that could be described as “low value”, such as watching television or engaging in “water-cooler” gossip. If you are a commuter, then travel time can often be low value, especially if you travel on public transport.

With some thought, you will be able to identify an hour a day from your schedule which can be diverted from low value activities towards personal development. If it is impossible to find 60 minutes, then look for 30 minutes. Take 20 minutes from your lunch hour and 10 minutes instead of a coffee break – 30 minutes is usually easy to find if you are determined to develop yourself.

To make this up to 1 hour, simply get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and go to bed 15 minutes later. Make this hour of time really work for you by undertaking personal development activities based on a pre-determined plan.

Build your own library

Begin to build up a library of books and CDs, to which you can constantly refer. After you finish each book, it is good idea to write down a summary of it in a notebook. This helps you to remember the main messages contained in the book. Also, identify 3 or 4 ideas from each book and introduce them into your life. Within a few months your outlook will be completely different.

Even if you only read 1 book a month, the 12 books you finish in a year will give you about 40 new ideas you can incorporate into your life. These ideas will improve your effectiveness, productivity and overall performance.

Why do successful people invest time and money in themselves?

The main reason is because to become successful, you have to. Continual learning puts them ahead of their peers. It extends their knowledge, which in turn helps them to grow. They will take a structured approach to becoming more and more knowledgeable about their role, their industry, their competitors and their potential clients.

Nowadays, nothing ever stands still. You are either progressing or you are falling behind. Develop a plan of action for your own personal development. It is far too important to leave to chance. Don’t procrastinate simply because you can’t see how to find 1 hour a day. Finding the time is possible if you really want to find it. Make personal development one of your highest priority activities. The real challenge is making full use of that time with effective personal development.


Everyone has 168 hours each week, of which a number are used for essential tasks such as sleeping, eating and working. The remaining time, which we could call discretionary time, is available for you to allocate as you wish. Make personal development a high enough priority so that you find the time. Work it into your schedule every day until it becomes a natural habit. It is thought that new habits take about 30 days to form as your brain tends to fight any change of behaviour/routine.

Therefore, expect your subconscious to put obstacles in your way and be determined to see the process of forming this new habit through to the end.

Without regular exercise, the brain gets out of condition and is unable to function at full capacity when it is needed. Regular creative thinking and mindstorming will get your brain into better condition, which not only helps you to lead a more rewarding life, it also helps you to remain mentally healthy.


  1. Experiment with Mindstorming to find at least 20 answers to problems you are facing. [This will be hard at first, but persist with the exercise].
  2. Develop a personal development plan to take you from where you are to be in the top 10% of your industry. Be prepared to invest financially in good materials and commit to spending 1 hour a day to improve yourself.
  3. Analyse how you spend your 168 hours each week and identify any low-value activities that could be replaced by personal development activities.


Posted in General