I woke up early today and told myself I had to do all the stuff on my to do list that I don’t want to do. One of the things was a written interview about personal development.

You can always learn something about yourself from what you put off doing. I thought I put off the interview because I hate written interviews. If I am writing I want to be writing a blog post. But then, while I was answering the questions, I realized that I was putting it off because the questions kept assuming that I’m a personal development expert.

First of all, I have a feeling that I’m an expert at bitching about personal development books. I hate the people who tell me to develop more self-discipline to improve my happiness. I want them to try to avoid chocolate after they trick-or-treat with their kids. And I hate the people who tell me to divide my time in sprints and rests and do the hardest thing first. The hardest thing is for me is to put my own needs behind those of my kids. It’s not intiutive to me. I have to remind myself each day: Pay attention to the kids’ story about the Pokemon who got away. Active listening is good parenting. Writing an email to investors while your kid talks to you is not good parenting.

But then I realized that for me, right now, personal development is good parenting. I just spent twenty years focusing on personal development in terms of work. I am a time management ninja and I am a strong enough manager that everyone I asked to join my company said yes. My personal development frontier now is in the parenting realm.

One of the questions in the interview that I put off for four days was “What are the biggest barriers to personal development?” I think it’s not wanting to do something that’s uncomfortable.

I’m obsessed with my garden probably as a key tool in my quest for perfect procrastination away from work stuff, but that’s a another story. And it’s hard to plant new stuff in the fall that actually shows up in the fall. So I added hopscotch. In the middle of the path. The best part of the garden is watching my kids play in it. So I dragged them to my newest section of the garden and taught them hopscotch.

It was awkward for them. Especially my older son, who has big feet for the squares and problems with large motor coordination. But he gave it a try, and was undaunted when he fell a few times picking up his rock. And we worked at it for the afternoon, long enough so that my kids could make it a competition and say offensive and rude things to each other about their hopscotch style.

I took pictures. And when I saw this one I  realized that the reason kids learn so fast is that they are willing to look weird while they try new stuff that they’re not good at. Adults are too scared of that.

It’s why adults don’t homeschool. But it’s also why adults get stuck in a personal development rut. I don’t need to focus on personal development at work. Knowing what you do not need to focus on forces you to find something new. You are not growing if your arms are not waving in the air like you’re losing your balance.

6 replies
  1. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    “I took pictures. And when I saw this one I realized that the reason kids learn so fast is that they are willing to look weird while they try new stuff that they’re not good at. Adults are too scared of that.”

    I love that paragraph. It really makes me think about the numerous reasons adults are too scared to look weird when they try new stuff. There are reasons that I can’t even think of right now. However, I have a feeling I’ll be doing something, watching someone do something, or reading about someone doing something and I’ll remember this thought.

  2. Sadya
    Sadya says:

    “You are not growing if your arms are not waving in the air like you’re losing your balance.” Ah, fantastic Penelope. Almost Oscar Wilde like

  3. YesMyKidsAreSocialized
    YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I like making to-do lists for my husband but not for myself… I feel like I’ve done enough growing and currently I just want to manage what’s presently going on in my life which happens to be three small children and homeschooling. This time of year full of holidays throws me off my game, trying to not be a grinch about it and perhaps getting a to-do list in my mind for when the kids are older, sort of a wish list as well. It involves becoming an expert in wine, traveling overseas, writing a novel, and getting back into photography. But for now being a good parent is the only thing that I can obsess about….I can always grow in that area. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Thank you for keeping up this blog so well.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Oh. I like the idea of taking a break from personal growth. It’s like when people take a vacation from their 9-to-5 job and then then grow because they have time to think in a different way. If you take a break from personal growth then you grow from just focusing on being where you are now.

      That said, as a personal growth obsessive, this would be very hard for me. So I think the only way I could do it is by saying that I can have personal growth by not trying to have personal growth.

      Penelope

  4. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    “And when I saw this one I realized that the reason kids learn so fast is that they are willing to look weird while they try new stuff that they’re not good at. Adults are too scared of that.”

    I must be a kid then, especially in comparison to my peers who do care about looking weird–that, or it really depends on my environment as to how kid-like I act. Or I’m just good at ignoring my environment.

  5. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

    Hi P,

    We just learnt slacklining – the 52 Exercise quest is still going on!

    It’s like tightrope walking so there’s a lot of arm waving and falling over. The kids loved it. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me these days and we were in a public space.

    Your lads would enjoy slacklining too – it could be your new obsession so maybe you could sling a slackline in the veggie garden although I wouldn’t fancy falling off into a pile of snow the kids would love it though :)

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