If only I could ...
If you had a wish list of personal qualities you'd like to improve, what would you choose? How about a photographic memory and the mental processing powers of a computer? Perhaps you'd like to be less of a worrier and more the life and soul of the party? Or would you just opt for a few inches off the waistline and one less chin?
No matter how much better off physically, mentally or emotionally we are than the next person, there will always be areas in our personal makeup we're unhappy about. We're never content, our sense of purpose makes us constantly strive for self-improvement. However that's no bad thing because complacency goes hand in hand with mediocrity. We know we can do better, we want to do better and deciding what to do about it is the first and most difficult step in the process.
This book is a totally practical, self-help guide to developing the key personal qualities that are vital to our everyday lives and will help us to achieve our maximum potential.
As you read the various sections you might think that some of the techniques, such as visualisations and maintaining eye contact, have been repeated. This is true and no apologies are due because a lot of personal development techniques are applicable to a variety of different areas of self-improvement.You'll find that some of the techniques, once mastered, will have a positive effect in other areas of your life, beyond the scope of this book.
Do you ever have the feeling you're being ignored or overlooked? Do you hold back and keep bottling up your feelings until it all becomes too much and you explode in a rage? Do you have to shout and carry on until people will listen to you?
The way we interact with other people depends on our level of our assertiveness. We might be passive and a bit timid. We might be demanding and overbearing. Or we may be at a happy state of balance - we are assertive.
Assertive people respect themselves, they respect other people and they have a genuine desire for everyone to succeed in what they're trying to achieve - not just themselves.
Assertive people stands up for their rights and are listened to when giving opinions. This isn't because of an overbearing or aggressive nature but simply because assertive people know how to project themselves calmly and confidently, to speak their minds openly and to gain everyone's support.
Motivation - achieve your goals
All of us, even workaholics, say we're not achieving as much as we'd like - we want to put more into the day and get more out of it. The reason we don't do this is because we waste so much time through poor planning, indecision and going round and round in circles that sometimes the day's over before we've really made a start.
Whatever you want to do in life - study for a degree, build a boat, earn more money or improve your game of golf - you'll need to set priorities, make time to work at it and manage to keep going even when things are a bit rough.
Public speaking - communicate effectively
An oft-quoted statistic is that people generally are more scared of public speaking than of dying. This might be an urban myth but certainly many people are genuinely scared stiff of standing up in public and speaking even a few words. Developing your communication skills will not only prepare you for standing up in front of a large meeting, it will help you in one-to-one conversation as well.
The way we verbally communicate with people - what we say and how we say it - is the first way that they assess us - and may be the only way they do it. It doesn't matter what you are, what you have done or what your ideas are, if you can't communicate effectively you'll never achieve your potential in life.
Conversation skills - what to say
In developing your public speaking skills you might learn how to address a room full of people but how do you feel in a one-to-one situation? There are all sort of social situations where we meet complete strangers and need to converse with them. Some people can just walk into a party and start chatting away to the first person they meet as though they've known each other for years. To others it's a nightmare - what do I say after 'Hello'?This section gives you a few hints and pointers towards starting a conversation and keeping it going.
Self-esteem - putting it all together
You've developed your assertiveness, motivated yourself to get on with the things you've always wanted to do and learned to speak confidently so you can communicate effectively with one or a thousand people so your self-esteem must be pretty high? Hopefully yes, but it's worth checking a few other areas - just to make sure.
... and keeping it all together
To gain maximum value it's important that you put these ideas into practice immediately. Don't just say 'That sounds like good sense - I'll start doing it next week' because you won't. The impetus to do it will have waned and the benefits will lessen. This is a short book and is easy to read so make a habit of scanning through it occasionally to check you're still using the techniques - even months or years after you first opened it.