Sunday, May 20, 2012

10 Breakthroughs in Personal Development

I was thinking about ProStar Coach today, the online virtual personal development coaching system, which has been in use for over two years now. Our vision was always to help adults get stronger for the challenges of work and life. It was as if we wanted to replace the old, cynical bumper sticker with something more realistic and empowering:

"Life is hard. And then you get stronger to get what you want."

All adults need more strength, but not all of them realize it. And not many adults know about the core strength areas, or that it's possible to exercise them. But these areas of human capability are real. They influence whether you'll achieve success and happiness, and people can intentionally become stronger.

ProStar Coach is so different from any other learning resource, because as we built it we kept our minds open and ended up incorporating an impressive number of breakthroughs in personal development. I actually wrote them down today as I was thinking about it.

1. Focused on changing behavior. Knowing what to do doesn't mean that you'll do it. So unlike most learning and development programs, ProStar Coach focuses on permanently changing behavior patters. Amazingly content-rich, it contains thousands of helpful insights, but it doesn't stop there. It coaches users to apply know-how in their lives and learn from these experiences.

2. Workouts in a virtual gym. The learning experience is a lot like working out with a personal trainer in a fitness center. You do the reps. But instead of physical strength, you work on getting stronger as a person - personal strength, relationship skills, and critical thinking skills.

3. Personal strength. It's the only learning system in the world that helps people get stronger in 40 different areas related to strong self, strong relationships, good judgment, and effective action. Learning is supported by 7 different exercise modes to accommodate personal learning style.

4. Relationship skills. Dozens of behavior-based instructional videos skip the entertainment and fluff. The videos are about one-third the usual length and are densely packed with how-to content. It's the most comprehensive set of people skill resources in one place, including related resources in other media.

5. Critical thinking skills. All the exercises use an approach that gets you to use critical thinking skills.

6. F-A-R. It uses a simple, powerful behavior change system that guides you through Focus, Action and Reflection - over and over until the new behavior is ingrained.

7. ProStar employs 6 kinds of virtual coaching...
- Coaching videos that orient the new user to the system.
- Follow-up coaching program to begin development and acquire self-development routines.
- Self-directed and self-paced F-A-R system.
- Coaching Network of real people for advice, ideas, encouragement, and accountability.
- Exercises that coach learners to apply learning and reflect on experience.
- Concierge encouragement and learning tips based on individual use of ProStar.

8. Two modes of interactive learning. You can be guided by the structure of the virtual coaching, or you can use ProStar in a self-directed "coach-free" mode. Or both simultaneously.

9. Revolutionary feedback system. Moving beyond traditional multi-source (360-degree) feedback, it's self-initiated instead of centrally managed; uses a "micro-feedback" approach to focus on a single top priority area for improvement, not dozens of ratings; and it incorporates a powerful element called "feed forward," which gathers suggestions for future action from many people. It can be used for diagnosis - finding the top issue among many possibilities. Or it can be used to check progress in a single area. It's like asking real people for their impressions and suggestions. And the technology makes gathering all this a simple, quick, anonymous process.

10. Youth-friendly. It's a learning system for adults who want to change old habits that get in the way of success - and build new ones. But ProStar was also designed to appeal to success-oriented high school and college students and people new to the workplace - to build success skills and strengths early, so they don't have to do the hard work to replace bad habits later in life.

Ten breakthroughs! I didn't realize there were so many until I forced myself to write them all down. It wasn't our goal to make ProStar Coach so different. We just wanted it to actually work to change people's behavior patterns to make them more effective in their careers, in leadership, in small business, in relationships, in parenting, and in preparing young people for success as adults.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

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