5) Getting out of my comfort zone
There are a lot of things I did in my twenties that got me out of my comfort zone. Big work projects and presentations that demanding insane levels of responsibility and confidence. Ironman Triathlons. Travel to foreign countries alone. Stepping up to go from yoga student to yoga teacher with my focus on teaching newbies (it's tough to teach beginners!).
But, in hindsight, I realize that I had a lot of room for more activities that would have pushed me out of my comfort zone. Whereas I might have done a few things a year that really stretched me, I could have done them each month. Profound growth would have emerged. In particular, I would have gone out of my way to advance my career and personal life by taking more risks to meet and build relationships with new people.
6) Investing more in person development
In a previous post, I mentioned that I've probably spent over $40,000 in the past 16 years on personal development. Goal setting workshops. Speed reading courses. Tony Robbins Mastery University. Too many yoga workshops and retreats to count. Online courses and programs in all areas of personal development. The amount of work I've done on my inner being is higher than what I observe most people doing. This was on top a bunch of training my employer paid for.
Yet, I do wish I was more intentional at spending time working on the right skills and training based on what I needed. Instead, I would just attend things that interested me. I also should have invested even more with coaches one-on-one. I've found that direct coaching produces the best results. Hiring a great coach isn't cheap, but the payoff is immense (five to seven times an initial investment based on several research studies).
Successful companies set "Research and Development" budgets to ensure they continue to innovate. I believe that people should set a personal development budget each year to ensure that they are continuing to grow. In hindsight, I would have invested more to sharpen skills around writing, influence, negotiation, learning a foreign language, voice/speech coaching and more. Most importantly, I would have worked with a coach to identify blind-spots and move through them.
7) Building my personal brand
I spent my entire adult life working for a great company, Microsoft. I also taught yoga for many years, which expanded my circle of friends and made people see me as more than the "Microsoft guy." Now that I'm no longer working for a corporation, I'm noticing how much I ignored building a personal brand that would support me over the long term. Inside Microsoft, people knew who I was. Outside of the company, people have no clue what I've done.
I think this applies to many corporate workers. They can do outstanding work inside their bubble, but once they leave (or are laid off, down-sized, etc.) they struggle to rebuild the trust with other potential customers and partners. I wish I spent much more time building my personal brand — as a product manager, planner, strategist, and technologist. I could have done this through blogging, speaking or through networking with a broader group of people.