I have been playing the guitar for 37 years. And, to be honest, for 35 or more of those years, I haven’t improved. Over that time, I’ve probably had no more than 10 lessons and so it shouldn’t really surprise me that my attempts at playing Stairway To Heaven are a little less than perfect.

In the past 12 months, two of my sons have started to pick up a guitar and play. To be honest, one of them is getting close to my level of play and the other is already ahead of me. 

Using YouTube as a source of lessons and with some fierce practice, he can master a relatively technical new song in a couple of hours or so. I tried not to look too amazed when he popped into the kitchen to show me his version of Paul Simon’s Feelin’ Groovy earlier this week! It’s not that he’s naturally better than me; it’s simply that he is more willing to put the time aside to learn and develop. 

I find similar trends in the workplace. As many executives rise up the hierarchy, they become less willing to spend time improving their skills and building new capabilities. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of poor time management, fatigue, fear or arrogance, but their reluctance is palpable and is always associated with a plateau or decline in performance. Conversely, the best business leaders I know are more like my son and have an ongoing commitment to their personal growth. 

We may be a little way off setting New Year’s resolutions, but disciplined self-development is the springboard to a more successful, rewarding life. As Warren Buffett once put it, “The best investment you can make is in yourself.” 

So, what are the skills, capabilities and behaviours that you would most like to develop or improve? And what are the initial steps that you can take to make that development real?

Off The Record: 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel

Slow down, you move too fast

You got to make the morning last

Just kicking down the cobblestones

Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy

© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.