What a 3-year-old taught me about personal development

When you’re a kid, personal development is just called life, and every day is a milestone. Approach life with childlike curiosity, and you will accelerate your personal growth.

I’ve taken care of my 3-year-old niece for the past three months. It’s been an adjustment to say the least. But it’s also been one of the best things to happen for my personal development.

My niece puts everything into crystal clear perspective. Her innocence and honesty leaves no room for doubt. And her curiosity about everything is matched by her tenacity to try everything.

She recently started potty training. It didn’t go so well at first. When I asked if she wanted to go potty, she refused. If she did agree to sit on the toilet, nothing happened. This went on for a couple of weeks. Then one day she said, “I want to wear my big girl underwear.”

So she put on her big girl underwear, and wouldn’t you know it, she started going potty! Now she tells me when she needs to go, runs to the bathroom, and sits on the toilet. And when she starts going, she smiles with pride.

Personal Development is like Potty Training

When my niece first started potty training she wasn’t ready. She hadn’t decided that going to the bathroom was something she was going to do. That’s why she refused and didn’t cooperate. It’s why even if she agreed to try, she just sat on the toilet and nothing happened. But once she made the decision to go potty, she was all in and started doing it on her own. The same is true in the area of personal development.

Significant growth does not happen until you decide. Others may bribe or coax or nag or plead or threaten, but you will refuse to do it. Even if you are persuaded to try it out, nothing will happen. Just like my niece who sat on the toilet without anything happening because she didn’t want to go potty. Once you decide, you make progress.

Success begins with a decision. There are many decisions to make on the way to success and personal development. But as long as you keep making decisions, you will progress.

Decisions determine destiny.

– Thomas S. Monson

Put on your “big girl underwear”

Decisions without action are just wishes. You haven’t really made a decision until you act. When my niece decided she was ready to potty train, she acted. She put on her “big girl underwear.”

Personal development requires that you “put on your big girl underwear.” This means doing what is necessary regardless of your doubts or fears. The necessary action may be uncomfortable or embarrassing, but you’re committed to doing it because you know progress will be made. Sometimes it needs to be massive action. Other times it’s something small. Whatever the case may be, if you really want to make progress, you must act.

Actions demonstrate commitment. You are only as committed as your willingness to act. This is true in business, relationships, and personal development. Those who make the most progress are the ones who are most committed. You can tell a person’s level of commitment by their actions. The mantras of the committed are:

“Show. Don’t tell.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“Accidents” happen

My niece is still new to the whole going to the bathroom thing. She hasn’t quite mastered it yet. Every now and then she’ll have an accident. And that’s ok because she’s still learning.

Having “accidents” is part of personal development. It’s what helps us grow the most because it exposes an area for improvement. When Navy Seals prepare for a mission, they practice for months before being deployed. They run through the mission over and over again, exposing flaws and weaknesses and mistakes. They meticulously study their mistakes, and then they work to correct them. Learning from their errors helps them prepare for the mission ahead. When it’s time to deploy, they’re confident the mission will be a success because they allowed themselves to fail first.

Snowboarders and surfers know that the key to improving is accepting you will fall. When you accept this, you improve. If you want to progress in any area of your life, accept that you will make mistakes. Those mistakes will be the key to unlocking your full potential.

Have sufficient courage to make mistakes.

– Paulo Coelho


Personal development begins the moment you decide. Your decision is made when you take action. “Put on your big girl underwear” and get to it. Mistakes are part of growth and improvement. Make them anyways.

What decision must you make in order to progress?

What action must you do now to manifest that decision?

How will you “put on your big girl underwear?”

Will you accept mistakes and learn from them?

Thank you for reading!

Everything I write is with the goal of helping others. If this post was helpful to you, please share it with someone you know. It might help them out.

If you would like to rapidly accelerate your personal development, schedule a call with me today.

(Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash)


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