Growth and development is ageless: 5 nuggets to becoming a better you

I often get asked to speak at schools and universities about my journey. Afterwards, many of the professionals  feedback that they have also found it stimulating. This has made me realise that some of the fundamentals of growth and development is ageless.

Here are 5 nuggets which I share with a younger audience and believe that they are applicable regardless of where you are in life – perhaps just starting out or have an established career. 

1. Continue to learn

Knowledge is powerKnowledge, including self-awareness, is powerful. The more you know, the more you can use it to your advantage. Learn as much as you can, be open to learning and then apply what you have learnt.

Learning is all around you and not just from books.

One of the best way of learning is through doing.   

Get involved in things – become a mentor, join a group or committee that you have an interest in, do an activity you wouldn’t think of doing….

This stretches you and puts you into new situations with new people…you learn how to adapt, how to interact, what works and what doesn’t …. That’s all knowledge.

You might not get it right first time, but making mistakes is all part of learning…

The good thing about getting involved in broader activities is that it helps you to get connected to other people. A network of people who can support and help you.    

2. Be yourself

TiggerThere is only one you. Never try to be someone else or copy someone else? Why would you? 

Tigger said ‘But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is, I’m the only one’. There’s only one you. You are unique with your own set of talents and gifts.

When you realise that, you will stop comparing yourself to others – we are all different, with different skills, and talents.  

Find out what your talents and strengths are use them. What are you good at? What can you spend ages doing? What do other people say you are good at? What do others ask you to do?

Use your strengths – when you are stuck or faced with a challenge, ask yourself, ‘how can I use this strength to help me move forward?’

3. Have a voice

 Don’t be a clone. Be individual. Stand out from the crowd. Know your values, your principles and stand up for you believe in. It will not be easy but will be character building.

Find opportunities where you can have a voice – speak up in meetings, have an opinion, enter into debate, give presentations… Put yourself forward when leadership opportunities present themselves.

 4. Take responsibility

When things go wrong, don’t blame others and your life. Accept responsibility for it, learn from it and move on. Get into the mentality of seeing hurdles and problems as a challenge. ‘I am faced with this situation, what do I need to do to solve it – do I up, round , through, underneath, who can I go to for help, what have I done in the past that has worked, how can I use my strength to get through this ?’

 You have it within you to find the solutions, believe you can

Strive to be you, only better.

Don’t let your past predict your future. You can’t do anything to change what has happened in the past but you can take control and create a different future for yourself

5. Seek help and take it when it is offered

Do not be too proud to ask for help. There are many people out there who are willing to support, mentor, give advice…. Make a list of 5 people who you think have the expertise and skills that you are seeking and be brave and ask for their assistance. Chances are 1 of those 5 will say yes     

In your travels you will find people who will buy into you and your story, when they offer help, seize it.  

What nuggets can you share?

What advice would you give to the next generation

My last blog looks at the importance of sharing your leadership journey to inspire and develop the next generation of leaders.

Photo courtesy of twobee at

This blog is part of the NaBloPoMo challenge of writing a blog everyday in Nov

Vera in 2012I’m a professional coach (MA in Coaching & Mentoring) working with women and aspiring leaders to build their confidence and know how to progress, make successful changes, leverage their influence, impact, presence and communication. I am a part-time lecturer in leadership and work within organisations to develop high performing teams, mentoring schemes and facilitate skills training in leadership and management development.

Aspiring Women

Join the Aspiring Women’s 3 month challenge. An opportunity to stop procrastinating, to let go of fear and what’s holding you back, to do something that you have always wanted to do but didn’t have the courage, know how, support…


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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3 Responses to Growth and development is ageless: 5 nuggets to becoming a better you

  1. moodybill says:

    Always interesting to read about life skills! I’ve been reconsidering the ‘be yourself’ idea. That always suggested to me that there is an immutable ‘you’, a thing that can’t change and I want room for change. In the run up to exams (I tutor maths and English to school age students), we often discuss the possibilities in not being the same person in the exam as in the everyday. Adopting a voice, an academic tone, for instance is an essential part of the English essay.

    I read Sheryl Sandberg’s (COO Facebook) Lean In this summer. Men and women treat the workplace and careers differently and she argues women need to be aware of their usual patterns of behaviour and do things differently (Thankfully she doesn’t suggest they behave like men!)

    For me, ‘be yourself’ has conflicted with change, openness and learning which you mention in other sections in the post. What I would like to do for myself is see things in a more fluid way and merge all the ideas.

    • verawoodhead says:

      Hello Bill, thank you for your insightful comments.

      From my own experience, ‘being me’ comes from self awareness, being clear on my core values, knowing my strengths, limitations, shadow side, what other people say about me…
      I am not afraid to show my vulnerability, my emotions, to ask for help, to say I don’t know, to admit failure….
      I strive to ensure that my daily actions and behaviours are aligned to my values, priorities and the things and people that are important to me….my moral compass for how I live and work.
      I don’t always get it right and I recognise and acknowledge this …I eat a lot of humble pie, reflect, learn… and the ‘real me’ that I am trying to be …is adapting, changing

      In the acting profession, taking on a role…I believe that you have to ‘become’ that person to portray him/her effectively?

      I often work with people who have one ‘persona’ for work and another for ‘home’…they don’t perceive that they can ‘be’ themselves because the job / role requires them to be ‘aggressive, distant, tough…’They have to keep up appearances, not show any vulnerability or humanness…and they don’t have the courage, confidence, self belief to stand up and be themselves

      When we choose to become someone that we are not ( not an actor), it is usually to suppress emotions, hold back, not deal with or face up to….our true self
      Once you get into that different persona, it changes your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, attitudes…. And if we keep on behaving differently than how we truly are, the dissonance that builds up and has to be let off in some way….drink, drugs, venting of negative emotions
      Love to hear your thoughts on this

  2. moodybill says:

    Talking of personas, Ellie (12) and I play Spot the Teacher when we go on holiday or trips out; teachers are terrible at switching off and are easily spotted organising adults or talking down to people as though they were dealing with kids! I’d rather try to talk to students as adults rather than patronise them, of course!

    I think being yourself is excellent advice and you define it well by including mindfulness of values and vulnerability.

    Have you read the Sandberg book? Be good to see your review.

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