5 Useful Ways to Leverage Content for Personal Development Online

personal development

This is a post by Lawrence Namale who is an author of ’21 Commandments to Mastermind Your Comeback’, available on Amazon Kindle. He is also an upcoming author of the books, Masterminding Your Comeback (June/July 2014), Permission for Greatness (December 2014), and Self Executive Officer (June/July 2015). Lawrence is the Country head of Top Image Ghana, a consulting firm that majors in Mobile Money Trade Development. He has lived in three countries now as a Mobile Money Consultant. Lawrence is married to Beth Mugisha, a Ugandan celebrated gospel artist. They currently live in Ghana with their two children Ethan and Serah. His passion is ‘designing legacies’, and he writes a lot about that on his blog http://ww.life-signatures.com.

When I am talking or writing about success, money, leadership or legacy, I have found out that there is a common denominator that I always go back to. This constant to all these fine topics we love is one of the biggest driving forces of life.

It is Personal Development. The degree to which I conquer myself and ultimately develop my potential is proportional to the quality and quantity of my daily intake of quality and quantity content.

My definition for success is “the continuous ability to master challenges”. In other words, if I cannot outgrow my challenges, I will not succeed. Notice that there are two ways to grow:

  1. By force: After a challenge comes your way
  2. By Choice: Daily purpose-directed living

I strongly believe that the content in our ‘inside’ determines largely who we are, what we are passionate about and ultimately what we will do in terms of our legacies.

For example, this post comes from deep within me. It is flowing from out of the abundance of my passion and belief system. It is a mixture of what I have both learnt by force and by choice.

In our day and age, with every twinkling of an eye, hoards of information are pushed to our mails and social media handles by the droves. Everyone seems to be talking about something…and then of course there are multiplied millions who are simply regurgitating what has already been said. Do you remember those days of receiving 50 or so forwarded emails in a day?

On the other hand, some of us crave for information so much that we also end up hoarding it. Your inbox is full of mails, videos, podcasts and other audio materials from January…some most of which you have never opened or gleaned from.

And so, this is the biggest paradox of our information age: Lot’s of information, little or no growth.

I am a great stickler of learning by choice, especially while you are still obscure. That is why we need to know how best we can leverage the content online for our personal growth. The following five points should help us:

1. Know What You Need:

Even in your own niche, you do not need ALL the information you can gather about it RIGHT NOW. You need to identify the stage, season or phase that you are in. This will determine your information needs for now. The biggest mistake we make is to hoard everything about everything we will need both now and in the future. Let’s exhaust (if we can) what we need for our current phase before we can gather more content.

2. Clean up Your Free Subscriptions:

I think we waste much time daily just going through our mails. There are several subscriptions that we really do not need. At the time of sign up, we thought we would gain from the content that was peddled then. Increasingly as you open your mail, you find that the content being shared is not helping you anymore and there is no indication of benefits in the future.

It is time to go through your mail and unsubscribe from all this ‘free content’. It makes sense to me that many a great thought leader would have hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of followers, yet they just follow ten people themselves.

3. Eliminate All Contents for ‘shortcuts to success’:

If you signed up to any ‘free content’ that peddles shortcuts to success, finances, acclaim and all that, just un-follow them. You will waste two things with these: Time and money. Nothing can replace the traditional W word, WORK. None of the successful people around you made it through shortcuts.

4. Pay for Content:

This, I believe is the master key to leverage on content online. We will always cherish something that cost us money. A certain peasant offered his King his land so the King could use it to set up a sacrificial altar to their God. The King’s reply was phenomenal. He said, “I will never offer anything to my God that cost me nothing!” You see, where your treasure is, there your heart will be too.  

Nearly all the bloggers I know (including myself) are offering ‘free e-book downloads’ these days. I must say that I have a bone to pick with several of them. The ‘free content’ is normally of cheap quality in terms of content and presentation. I think the best free content we offer should cost us something…it should be something that we could sell in its current format.

If you pay for content online, chances are that you will purchase only the very best content. Chances are that you will also take time to read/listen/watch it since your ‘heart is there’. More self help content has become ‘shelf help’ because it’s free and cheap in quality.

5. Schedule daily PD:

Personally I have a daily schedule that includes the following: Reading other people’s blogs and commenting (within my niche), reading a featured book, updating/refining my blog content, watching something inspirational, listening to something inspirational and writing. All these things are scheduled. In our day and age, if we do something just 15 minutes a day daily, we reap a lot.

If you do not have a daily schedule for personal development, you will not leverage the very best from online content. You will find yourself having gazillions of mail to sift through daily, lots of nonsensical content from your ‘friends’ on social media and ultimately no focus at all in terms of your personal development.

We live in exciting times. Remember, to whom much is given, much will be required.

Question: What is your best practice in utilizing content for personal development?


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38 thoughts on “5 Useful Ways to Leverage Content for Personal Development Online

  1. Great post, much wisdom. The older I get the more I realize that one of God’s greatest gifts is the ability to continue to learn and become knowledgable about everything, but especially the passion He’s placed within us for a specific topic.

    It’s been said that you can learn something from everybody… whoever said it was smart, and that’s how I try to live my life. Thanks for some clarifications here today. Your words are worthy, Lawrence.

    • Hi Floyd! Learning more in the area of our passion, gifts and talents is one of the greatest favors we can accord ourselves. Thanks a bunch for the kind words and for your wisdom too.

  2. Recently, I’ve been using the approach of reading what fits with my current needs and passions. I don’t keep stuff for possibly reading in the future… I either use it now, or I can find it again later. While I do see the value in paying for information and the points you mention, I do think there’s a lot of good free content available too. Weeding through it is the problem. I like to go on recommendations from others. Helps me get to the good stuff more quickly.

    • Hi Kari. You are right about great free content available…getting it is the issue. Again, there is also a host of paid content that is of low value…that’s why recommendations are great time savers. Thanks for your contribution.

  3. Amen Lawrence! I do believe we have to step it up with our freebie. Our free stuff should be better than some people’s paid stuff! We have to stop following the -do-this-and-you’ll-blow-up-now content. It times time and hustle. I don’t learn anything new until I’ve implemented the last thing I learned!

    • Right on Kimanzi. I feel so strongly about the freebies. Just because it is free does not mean that we show up with half baked, cheap, lazily assembled stuff of low value in content and presentation. We have the mandate to show up well. Thanks for joining the discussion.

  4. This is such a great list. I resonate with all of them, but #5 especially hits home for me. We have to be intentional on a daily basis with developing ourselves.

    • Hi Jon. You are the second person to mention the gravity of #5. I have something that I call the law of second mention…it must be important. As you focus on your daily development, be sure to also track your progress daily. You will get great motivation from this daily tracking. All the best Jon.

  5. Thanks for this great content. I refreshed my dedication to #5 recently and your post here helps affirm that decision. Keeping and sorting references can be a huge time waster. I’ve begun applying some principles from the action method that help in that area from Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen.

  6. One of my biggest problems is reading about how to do something before I’ve made the commitment to do it. When I do that it just boggles my mind unnecessarily! (I often do this with techy things.) So I really resonated with your first point – I need to do that!

    • Exactly Barb! I think that little C word is one of the biggest words in personal development. I was preparing another list elsewhere and I just thank you for mentioning this word, it goes straight into that list. Thanks for your comments.

  7. Lawrence, great list. And an even greater discipline. The one thing I would add is that we should be careful to only read within a niche. If we are too limiting, we miss the creativity that arrives when something that seems unrelated gives us the next BIG idea.

    • Skip Prichard, wow! Your statement has just confirmed that I need to post one article on my blog that has been on draft for a while now. You are right about reading within the niche and I have already posted further about it. I love the idea of mixing things…article loading. Thanks for your contribution. I love it.

  8. Very timely post here, Lawrence

    Especially #5. I’ve just recently started branching outwards to related-niche blogs, and blogs that offer another perspective on self-development.

    It’s same to say I’ve been reaping the rewards; as well as getting ideas for my future writings. It’s inspirational to say the least.

    Dragos Bernat

    • Thanks Lincholn. We seem to both have downloaded the same message. My ‘law of second mention’ states that if you heard it the second time from a different sources, take note, it is important. Thanks for your kind words Lincoln.

  9. Great post Lawrence. I love your focus on personal development because it directly relates to leadership. I strongly believe that leaders must constantly be focused on personal development so that they can be a better resource to others.

    • Personal development is so essential for everyone (especially leaders), it’s something that needs to be a habit in our life’s. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

    • Chris, authentic leaders have ‘led themselves’ so to speak before they could lead anyone else. They are therefore in perfect condition to know exactly what the followers could be grappling with, since they went past that route themselves. Personal Development for leaders is a must! Thanks for your contribution Chris.

  10. My one piece of advice that has served me well is simply shut the tv off and instead read good quality books! It’s no short cut to success but over time it can make a big difference!

  11. Enjoyed reading this post, Lawerence – lots of great tips here. I think in general the message i get is streamline, cut out stuff you don’t need and focus on the resources that are most helpful (including some paid resources). I think the best advice I give myself is to try to actually use the personal development stuff we hear and read about. Instead of thinking of these things as feel-good concepts or brilliant ideas, can we actually implement personal development concepts in our lives. I’m trying to do that daily which includes writing down take away messages from stuff I read and actually trying to infuse that idea or practice into daily life.

    • YES, we must implement the personal growth we consume. The best leaders know the importance of becoming better through implemented growth. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

    • Vishnu, you hit the nail on the head with a sledge hammer! I remember writing an article on my blog titled, “Why you should not read another book”, and you have captured that message in one paragraph. Thanks for your contribution.

  12. Excellent article Lawrence and a great approach. I totally agree that sometimes you need to eliminate internal and external cluttering and free your mind RAM for better causes, but I believe you should focus on the #1 of your points (know what you need or – mine translation – align your approaches, method, tools, to your life objectives and the way you live and work) before anything happens. If you do not clear up that point, the reasons first guide you to the clutter would again lead to to similar results. And defiantly I’m a big fun of the key operand word you use (choice!). I believe that many things in our life should be based on our objectives, values and principles and (based on them) our choices. Excellent post, Lawrence. Congratulation!