Why Personal Development Matters to Me

Posted February 23rd, 2011 by Emma Wilhelm and filed in Posts

As someone who helps create materials for the training and development industry, I spend a good deal of time thinking about personal development. Not only do I want to maximize the learning and growth of the end-users of our products—people who take DiSC® assessments, participate in classroom training sessions, or read our soon-to-be-published leadership book—but I want to challenge myself to do the same. Why does personal development matter so much to me? Honestly, it just feels good, doesn’t it?

As a young girl, I loved learning for the sake of learning. I devoured books by the stack, set up a “science museum” with my brother in our basement, and relished special educational opportunities like the creative writing workshop I attended as a fourth-grader. In high school, I was involved in many extra-curriculars and took courses in psychology and political science at a local college. And, I started to appreciate the power of being on the other end of the development process—I began to coach children in a summer track and field program, and I was hooked. I loved seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they ran faster than they thought they could or landed a personal best in the long jump.

In college, I spent two summers teaching in a college-prep writing program for high school students, and I found it similarly gratifying to help teenagers put together cohesive arguments and discover the joy of poetry. When I graduated in 1999 with an English degree and a desire to explore the U.S., I had very little idea what exactly I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew that I wanted to help people live more satisfying, healthy, and productive lives.

At first glance, my professional resume looks a bit erratic, but a common thread ties it all together: a strong interest in human development. I’ve edited books on coaching youth sports, helped to create coaching curriculum, and served as the head coach of a collegiate athletic team. I helped to start an NCAA CHAMPS/Life Skills program on a college campus, directed YMCA leadership programs for college students, and taught life-saving skills for the American Red Cross.

My current position as senior writer and product developer at Inscape Publishing involves creating a variety of products based on the DiSC model of human behavior. I feel pride in the work my team does because more than one million people learn from our products each year. Because we build tools that help people work more effectively together, our work directly impacts workplace dynamics around the U.S. and, in fact, the world.

I’ve been busy, but I haven’t neglected my own personal development along the way. In the past few years, I’ve challenged myself to learn more about parenting, yoga, writing, social media, and relationships. And you know what? That same love of learning that fueled me in my youth is alive and well. It keeps me moving forward in my personal life and my professional life, and that momentum—that positive feeling that pushes me to want to learn more—is why personal development matters to me.

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Why does personal development matter to you?

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