In the first part of this article we focused on ‘knowing ourselves.’ Then, in the second part, we have seen some ways to prepare an action plan by using methods like the SWOT analysis and TOWS matrix to provide us a guideline on the way to improve ourselves. In this third article, I will share some recommendations about how to improve ourselves.
Improve Your Mind and Be Versatile:
In one of my earlier articles I wrote about the intelligence types. Each of us can be better in some of them, but we can also improve ourselves in any of them.
I recommend the documentary series of BBC about the brain1. It explains how the brain works, with examples from life. Brain is made of nerve cells called neurons. From the beginning of our lives, these cells communicate with each other by the help of structures called synapses. Until this communication bridge is constructed, the time needed to learn something is longer and harder, because the neural communication web is not fully developed. Every new information we learn, builds new communication bridges between the neurons. This helps our brain to understand the relations between things easier, faster and better. While the relation webs of less used information get weaker, more used ones become stronger with time. This means that, every new information we learn make the relation webs in our brain stronger, so it is important to learn new things, and to use them1.
“Whatever path you choose in your life, if you want to be clever and creative, you must improve your brain. You must do everything with this consciousness: Everything is related to each other in some way. 2”
Leonardo Da Vinci
Tony Buzan, the inventor of the mind maps, says that we can improve our brains with time.3 He also talks about versatility (having a wide variety of skills) of Leonardo da Vinci2. As you know, Da Vinci was an artist, thinker and inventor, who is also famous for his contributions in many scientific fields, from astronomy to anatomy, biology, physics and mathematics. He also designed many new things in a wide spectrum, from bags to war weapons. When we look into history, we can easily see that numerous successful people, like Aristoteles, Newton, Pythagoras, Benjamin Franklin, Omar Khayyam, Avicenna and Confucius, share the same characteristic: Versatility.
Plato, writes about the ideal education in his book “The Republic”. He starts education in mother’s womb with stories. At the next step, education continues with two main disciplines: Music and gymnastics. Scientific education follows this: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and acoustics. And he adds many more steps to this complex education system. Music, gymnastics and science (all together) is the foundation. So Plato says that the great minds and leaders of the future must get a versatile (all-round) education4.
“An average person looks without seeing, hears without listening, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical consciousness, breathes without smelling, talks without thinking. 3”
Leonardo Da Vinci
If we do not want to be average, we must look into life with the eyes of a curious child. By this way, we can realize our true potential. We must prefer activities that activates all our senses. We must be curious about everything, read and travel more, go to exhibitions, discover the fields of art, learn new things, improve our general knowledge, and by doing all those, strengthen our mind.
Play Logic Games:
Playing logic games is an enjoyable and efficient method to improve different parts (types) of our intelligence. We can reach various logic games easily through the Internet. These games help us to improve our brain’s performance on a daily basis. Through some applications and web sites, by playing some games every day, you can improve yourself in many fields, and track your progress with graphic charts5. You can add these games into your daily activities, and find a chance to systematically improve yourself in the fields like memory, flexible thinking, problem solving, concentration and fast thinking.
Social Learning / Learn from Others:
Researches show that social learning is the most important learning method. We are continuously learning by listening and watching others. We must keep our consciousness to learn new things wide open in social environments, and benefit from the opportunities knocking at our door.
Every person is more powerful in some fields, and we can learn how people use their abilities by observing. We do not have to search for the perfect “role models,” the people we can learn from, do not have to be good in every field. The people who are powerful in the field that we want to improve ourselves can show us the way. For instance, if we observe people with high personal skills in building and managing social relations (networking), we can learn a lot from them. We can improve ourselves by making them our role model or source of inspiration in that field. We can also learn by asking them, how they advanced themselves to become so skillful in that area7.
Biographies and Autobiographies:
It is very beneficial to read or watch the biographies and autobiographies of great leaders and successful people. In some personality inventories we can see some important people’s names who have similar personality traits as we do. I specifically recommend you to read these people’s biographies. You can see both your similarities, and what these people achieved by using the same personality traits. It is a very enjoyable and inspiring experience.
Read Books and Articles on the Fields You Need to Improve Yourself:
We can easily find writings on our fields in the self-improvement section of bookstores. Another way is Googling. It will be very helpful if you read at least two books or articles on the fields you need to improve. Many people have similar problems, and by thinking on this issues, they produced some practical solutions. You neither need to start from the beginning nor try to discover everything by yourself. The books and articles on these fields can make your life much easier and increase your life quality.
Take Courses and Trainings, Ask for Them:
By talking to the People & Culture (Human Resources) Department or your executives, you can demand to have education on the fields you aim to improve. Public courses may also be helpful. It is also a very good choice to have courses on foreign languages and the fields you feel like you are not competent enough.
Find an Improvement Partner/Buddy:
Making an action plan and working together with a person who has similar development needs will create a synergic advantage, and help you to progress faster. Sharing the things we learn and our experiences is very beneficial for us6.
Monitor Your Progress:
We must put our action plan to someplace we can easily see. We can hang it to somewhere or even make it a wallpaper on our computer/phone so we can monitor ourselves continuously. Instead of randomly reading or working on any area, (as I discussed it on my 2 earlier articles) it will be more beneficial and faster for our improvement to know ourselves first, and then making an action plan that we will monitor periodically. I am counting my “versions” by counting significant upgrades in my life, I am currently at version 8.0 and keeping track with a personal development plan with “versions”. I genuinely recommend it because it makes it funny and interesting :).
- BBC Documentary Series, “Brain” Episodes: 1, 2 and 3.
- “MCT Human Resources Congress”, Tony Buzan, 2013
- “Quick Steps To a Better Memory”, Tony Buzan, 2012
- “The Republic”, Plato
- “Lumosity: Brain Training” by Lumos Labs / “Elevate” by Elevate Labs / “Brainbuzz” by Mind Kick
- “For Your Improvement”, Michael M. Lombardo, Robert W. Eichinger, 1996
- “FYI For Talent Management”, Michael M. Lombardo, Robert W. Eichinger, Cara Capretta Raymont, 2004