The Great Obstacle To Professional Growth, Fulfillment and Sound Decision Making

The Great Obstacle To Professional Growth, Fulfillment and Sound Decision Making

It’s the need to be more honest with ourselves.

It’s more than self-knowledge. It’s too easy to say, “Yeah, I’ve got that.” In fact, none of us ever fully attain it. Only those with the most self-knowledge realize the length and arduousness of the journey ahead.

It’s self acknowledgements of personal, painful truths. The more painful they are to acknowledge, the more likely they are to be true, but when acknowledge to liberate us the way we were programmed in past and to propel us toward fuller self-discovery.

It’s a scary process, one that requires great courage. We have to lay down the armor of past self-protection and make ourselves vulnerable. We have to drop the mask of all-knowingness and “having everything under control.” We have to see how trying to prevent being disappointed again or hurt again or betrayed again is keeping us from seeing what is possible.

We stunt our growth lest we suffer growing pains.

We isolate ourselves lest we be alone.

We don’t say what we feel lest our feelings be hurt again.

Professional development requires personal reflection. It isn’t just culture that kills strategy; it’s our inability to acknowledge the path out of the valley of the past is not the one that will lead us to the best future.

Painful Personal Realizations That Propel Professional Growth
  • My instincts are not always right; sometimes they’re way off
  • Much of what I was taught is no longer true, some of it may never have been
  • What I have communicated so often and so well hasn’t really gotten through
  • I’m not as good of a listener as I think I am
  • The more I feel the need to be right, the more likely it is that I am wrong
  • My need for approval is why I am not giving others the approval they deserve
  • The characteristics I give myself credit for – like drive and discipline – are really rooted in anxiety
  • What I fear is more imagined than real, more respective than actual or prospective
  • The way I adapted to the first 20 years of my life has prevented me from adapting to the changed realities of the next 20, and the next 20, and…


Jim Langley is the president of Langley Innovations. Langley Innovations provides a range of services to its clients to help them understand the cultural underpinnings of philanthropy and the psychology of donors and, with that knowledge, to develop the most effective strategies and tactics to build broader and more lasting communities of support. Jim has authored numerous books including his most recent book, The Future of Fundraising: Adapting to New Philanthropic Realities, published by Academic Impressions in 2020. 

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