Experiment, Fine-Tune, and Expand: How Developmental Areas Really Can Change Your Life

Here we are again. Time to buckle down and start working on those weaknesses… sometimes euphemistically called Developmental Areas.  “Oh goodie! (insert tone of heavy sarcasm) Let’s force myself to do more of things I already hate or stink at.”

HOGWASH! Don’t waste your time!

If you’ve been on my campus for a while, then you know that I have a slightly different approach to “Developmental Areas.” Rather than focus on those things that drag you down, I encourage you to develop your gifts, those things you already love, to the next level. Strategically focusing your attention on those gifts you would like to discover, fine-tune, or master will make the biggest change for you in your life, and in your work, going forward.

As you’re putting together your plan for the next six months and the developmental areas you would like to work on, I want to give you some tools to really make your Developmental Areas work for you.

The first thing is to take a look at my three categories of Developmental Areas:

  • Experimental
  • Fine-Tuning
  • Expansion or Mastery

Each category below includes a question to help you hone in on the task, skill, or attribute appropriate for each category. Answer each question twice: once in the context of your professional life and once in the context of your life overall. I encourage you to choose the things that will make the biggest difference for you.

HINT: You get to decide! Nobody else gets to tell you what your Developmental Areas should be.

Let’s take a closer look:

Development Area 1: The Experimental Area

What is something that you’ve always wanted to do, or been interested in, that sounds fun and seems a little bit challenging? Ideally it is a little outside your comfort zone and will push you to stretch yourself.

This is your Experimental Area. This area is valuable because it allows you to uncover the gift, talent, or skill you never knew you had. The concert pianist who never sat down in front of a piano would never have known that she could be famous. She never would never have known that playing piano was her gift.

Don’t worry if your Experimental Area makes sense or not! Don’t worry if it matters to anybody but you. This is your experiment. The great thing about the Experimental Area is that the way you succeed in this area is to just try it and see what happens! That’s all you have to do.

What is the experiment that you believe will make the biggest difference for you?

Developmental Area 2: The Fine-Tuning Area

This is usually something that was experimental at one time, you tried it, and, hey, it was kinda fun! You enjoyed it, or at least there were aspects of it that you enjoyed, and you’re interested in improving your skill level.

The key thing about the Fine-Tuning Area is that this is something you have not yet mastered. You are not good at it yet. This area is probably not easy for you, and it might be a little bit frustrating sometimes. BUT, it’s interesting and fun enough to make you want to do it more and get better at it.

What do you want to fine-tune that will make the biggest difference for you?

Developmental Area 3: The Expansion Area

This is where you already know you are a rock star. You love it, and you’re good at it. You’ve honed it and it is clearly an area of strength for you. The Expansion area is where you get the opportunity to take that talent, skill, or ability to the next level.

What is the gift that will make the biggest difference for you when you take it to the next level of mastery?

So you have selected the specific skill, ability or attribute that you want to develop in each area. (1 from each category for your professional life, and 1 from each category for your greater life overall for a total of 6 Developmental Areas.)  Now choose one from the ‘work’ category and one from the’ life’ category as your primary focus for the next month.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything with the others, but I want you to choose the one that would make the biggest difference for you. Choose the one that would be the biggest game changer for you.

Put it in your day planner, or your calendar, your journal, or your diary, or whatever that tool might be that runs your life.

Focus your attention on that Developmental Area by taking inspired action on it at least three times a week.

What is inspired action? That is the answer you get when you ask yourself, “What is the one thing that will give me the greatest step forward in this Developmental Area right now?”

As that answer or idea comes to you, take action on it. IMMEDIATELY!

At the end of every week, be sure to reflect on what you did, what you learned, what you noticed, and how far you’ve come on those developmental areas. At the end of the month, ask yourself the same questions, and then decide “Is this the Developmental Area that’s going to receive my attention for the next month, or do I want to put my attention somewhere else?”

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment below.  Let me know about the Developmental Area you’re working on and the progress you’re making.


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