What is personal effectiveness? It can't just be achieving our goals because we could do so in a very wasteful, time consuming or sloppy way. How about making best use of our time and all other personal resources at our disposal? This means achieving our goals efficiently, like investment, getting the best possible return.
Personally effective people are thus more than just people who get what they want. They really have two qualities: They make good use of their resources and they are skilled at achieving their goals. Whether you want to be a successful sales person or good in sports, being effective means a combination of efficiency and skilled execution.
People are personally effective in different ways because everyone has different goals, values and priorities. Skilled communicators, for example, can be effective in numerous ways depending on what they want to achieve. Those who want to entertain people have a good sense of humor. If they want to wow large audiences, they must have excellent presentation skills. Similarly, a coach needs to communicate sensitively and be a good listener.
What Does Personal Effectiveness Mean to You?
Which of these goals mean something to you?
- Getting my work done to high quality standards
- Taking care of my family and making them happy
- Career advancement
- Influencing people
- Making and keeping new friends
- Earning a lot of money
- Earning the respect of my colleagues
- Becoming an expert in my field
- Or something else
People who are personally effective make good use of their skills. They don't squander them. They use them to achieve their goals and do so in a way that is efficient and cost effective.
How can you become more personally effective? Start by clarifying your goals, values and priorities. What is it that you want to achieve, in the short term at least, if you aren't sure about the longer term? What skills do you need to acquire in order to achieve your goals? Then: what is the most efficient, easiest way you can get what you want? That is, how can you apply your skills? How can you invest your time and effort to get the best return on all your efforts and talents?
Personal Effectiveness and Confidence
It is hard to be effective if we aren't confident. Our confidence grows when we play to our strengths and have a confident attitude. Confidence isn't based on the way we are or what happens to us as much as you would think. It's just that we tend to blame circumstances for our failings so we don't see that it's all between the ears. That is, it's not how we are but how we see ourselves that counts.
To build and maintain strong self-confidence, it's important to say positive things to yourself. Whenever you catch yourself strongly criticizing yourself, stop and say some positive things, like recalling your good qualities, things you have achieved or things you have done for others. Also, watch who you compare yourself to. It's good to have role models but there's no use beating yourself if you can't be like your favorite rock star or movie star. Pick realistic role models and don't forget to compare yourself with people who aren't doing as well as you. Even if you haven't achieved much in your life, try to do nice things for others. That makes you a better person and is something to be proud of.
Some people defeat themselves. They feel so bad about themselves that they lash out at everyone around them, which just ensures that they will stay in the hole they're in. The easiest way to raise yourself up is to start doing nice things for other people. In a while, you will start feeling better about yourself and then you can start taking on bigger challenges. You will fail at some things. Everyone does, but use a diary to keep track of everything you achieve, even little things. Review it regularly to celebrate your success. Building self-confidence and personal effectiveness is a gradual process of building on past successes, taking stock of where you are and moving onto bigger things.
Don't worry if you don't have a long term goal. Very few people do. The key is to create a foundation of success on which to build. As you achieve more and try new things, continually push yourself outside your comfort zone. Take stock regularly, at least once a month, and ask yourself what you have learned about your abilities and what activities give you the most satisfaction. This stock-taking will then help you to decide what avenues to pursue next.
Being effective at work is more likely if you know how to work with and through people. This means learning how to get the balance right between self-reliance and interdependence. On this topic, see How to Be More Effective at Work.
Building Effective Relationships
Positive relationships at work are a critical key to success. People need to trust and like you to work with you productively. It is essential that people are not saying nasty things about you if you want to get ahead and be successful. See Relationships at Work for more on this topic.
For more on personal effectiveness, see Goals at Work and Career Management. In what areas of your life would you like to enhance your personal effectiveness? Would you like to improve your self esteem, your assertiveness, influencing skills, communication skills?