The Continuous Development Approach

There are many models for continuing to develop as a person or as a professional. The following section describes one approach that individuals can follow in their own way.

Imagine that you want to try using this approach. This involves focusing on the following steps.


The first step is to choose a specific activity that you care about in which you would like to develop. Different people choose different activities when taking this step. Here are some of the topics they may mention.

The specific activity I care about
in which I would like to develop is:

Encouraging my daughter … Developing as a writer … Counselling people who have PTSD … Building a successful team … Managing my manager … Presenting to large groups … Being a better sports coach … Scaling a business.

The caring part is crucial and provides the motivation to keep developing. It involves the heart as well as the head. You are then more likely to deliver the desired results. Imagine that you want to take this step. If so, it can be useful to explore the following themes.

What is the specific activity I care about in which I would like to develop? What would be the benefits – both for myself and for other people? On a scale 0-10, how motivated do I feel to develop in this area?

Let’s assume you have worked through these questions. It can then be time to move on to the next stage.


Imagine that you have chosen a specific activity in which you want to develop. The next step is to clarify what you want to achieve in this area. You can then aim:

To clarify the real results you want to achieve – the picture of success;

To clarify the key strategies you can follow to do your best to achieve the picture of success;

To clarify how you can build on your strengths and maybe add other skills to achieve the picture of success.

Let’s look at one example. A person I worked with wanted to develop as a leader. This involved inviting them to work through the following framework. I have included given examples regarding some of the themes they covered.

Imagine that you have established clarity about the results to achieve. It can then be useful to focus on the next theme.

Consistently High Standards

People who choose to develop often aim to deliver consistently high standards in their chosen activity. One approach is for them to prepare properly, perform superb work and get positive results.

Let’s assume that you have clarified the strategies you can follow to do your best to achieve the desired results. If appropriate, the next steps may be these.

To rehearse following these strategies – plus anticipating how to manage any challenges – on the way towards achieving the desired positive results;

To translate the strategies into action, perform superb work and find solutions to any potential challenges;

To deliver consistently high standards and do your best to achieve the desired positive results.

Great workers follow the old rule that practice makes permanent. They rehearse what they are going to do, do their best to achieve their goals and reflect on their performance.

They then aim to keep improving and repeating the process until they consistently deliver high standards. They may then move on to the next stage.


Some people apply their creativity and do something special to deliver the desired results. Different people do this in different ways. Here are some of the approaches they may use.

Some people have great personal radar – they seem to know what will happen before it happens. They then reach into their repertoire of skills and apply these to get the desired results.

Some people quickly see patterns in a situation. They then build on the successful patterns – and manage the negative pattern – to do what is required to deliver the desired results.

Some people apply their strengths to do superb work. They then seem to go into another dimension – their equivalent of flow or the zone – and produce something magical to achieve the picture of success.

You will have your own approach to making creative breakthroughs. At some point you may buy time to think, however, and explore the following themes.

Clarity. What are the real results I want to achieve?

Creativity. What are the potential creative solutions? What are the pluses and minuses of each option? Is it possible to combine any of these options? Are there any other things I can do to achieve the goals?

Concrete Results. What is the route I want to follow? How can I do my best to achieve the desired concrete results?

Sometimes you will try several things and look for what works. Spotting a potential successful strategy, you will keep following it. You will then do your best to find creative solutions to the challenges.  

Concrete Results

Great workers aim to achieve the desired concrete results. They may aim to implement a strategy successfully, hone a skill or do something else that achieves the picture of success.

Different people measure success in different ways. One approach is for them to clarify the actual things that will be happening that will show they have achieved their goals.

Some people take another approach. They clarify the actual words that they would like to hear people – such as their various stakeholders – saying about the work they have done or are doing.

The leader mentioned earlier took this approach. They then did their best to increase the likelihood of people saying these things. Here is the exercise. You would, of course, describe your own group of stakeholders.

Let’s return to your own development. Imagine that you have delivered the desired positive results. If appropriate, you may also want to take time to reflect. This can also involve focusing on the following theme.

Continuous Development

Different people choose different ways to continue to develop. Some keep a journal, diary or other form of log. One approach is to keep something called My Development Book.

Imagine you have done a piece of work. If appropriate, you can reflect on the following themes:

The specific things you did right or did well and how you can follow these principles more in the future;

The specific things you could have done better and how you can apply these lessons in the future;

The specific other things that you learned from the experience and how you can apply these lessons in the future.

Some people continue to follow elements of this approach throughout their lives. They may do this by keeping a journal or by using the framework to clarify their thoughts and then continuing to develop. Here is the exercise on this theme.

Many people love to develop. This piece explored one approach where a person can focus on the themes of caring, clarity, consistently high standards, creativity and concrete results.

Can you think of a situation where you may want to follow elements of this approach? How could you follow this in your own way? This could be when developing yourself or helping another person to develop.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to complete the following sentences.

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