No one can tell us how to be, or how to act, but that does not mean that we can just maintain the state we are in for the rest of our lives. Personal Development is something everybody should strive for at all time, and I’m not just talking about technical skills, because that is barely what it takes to be a successful and complete individual.
A lot of the people that I know have great knowledge and expertise in a certain technical area, but when it comes to presenting themselves, transferring their knowledge and keeping good relations with others, it is not their strong suit, and it hurts their opportunities to a great extent. That is why I was so glad to find out that during our Master program at Toulouse Business School, we will have a full school week dedicated to personal development training.
During these four full days, we did various exercise to explore ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, both professionally and personally, and techniques on how we can leverage our advantages and overcome our imperfections. When I say that we were exploring ourselves, however, I did not necessarily mean by ourselves. It is difficult to sit down and doodle on paper our attributes because we often have doubt of ourselves, so we need a little affirmation from our peers, and that is exactly what we did during these workshops.
One of the activities we did was to write down our name and our own qualities on a piece of paper, then we collected all the pieces, shuffled them up and distributed them randomly to the class, so that each of us will be writing about the person whose name is on the paper we received. And when the paper comes back to its owner, she or he may be surprised with what his or her peers think of him/her. We have a medium-size class (22) and we have been knowing each other for the past six months, so it is a very relevant exercise. One of the things I like most about this activity besides the fact that it let me see myself through the lenses of the others, is that it makes people focus on the good of others. Some people may think this sounds narcissistic but I absolutely did not mean that just because your classmates write only nice things about you then you should automatically think that you are flawless; we should definitely work on our weaknesses as well. However, at least through this activity, now we have our strengths confirmed.
During the course of four full days, we also did many other fun as well as scary activities including taking personality tests, public speaking exercises (yikes!) and goal-defining skills, all of which I personally find very helpful.
I’m not saying that four days are enough for anyone to fully discover their strengths and weaknesses, or to know exactly how to speak in front of a large audience without their adrenaline rushing and their heart beating like a jungle drum, but these personal development courses definitely help us realize that we should practice on both our hard skills and soft skills, because they are equally important. After all we should know how to read graphs and write a report, but we should also know how to say “no” to someone without being aggressive or passive-aggressive.