How can your CPD cycle be truly strategic and sustainable?

When you are in the thick of things it is often difficult to take the time out for self-development and growth.


Yet this is exactly when it is often most needed if you wish to be well placed for that next step in your journey.


The most strategic of planning is often around your own development, especially as a small business owner.


There are various approaches to reviewing our own performance and development needs, often referred to as the CPD cycle. The most simple form of a CPD cycle is the four step approach:

  1. reflect on where you are,
  2. plan for where you want to be,
  3. take action to get you there,
  4. and evaluate the said actions and impact.


But if you are more conscientious you might want to take a more in-depth approach, which often (although not always) includes a skills audit, identifying gaps and competencies.


Sometimes (although rarely) this might even include a mind-set review;

  1. understand where you have come from,
  2. plan where you want to go,
  3. act on your plan,
  4. but also reflect on your learning,
  5. and so adapt your plan,
  6. thereby share your learning,
  7. and measure the impact.


Yet more sophisticated models will elaborate on the element around learning itself;

  • what do I need to learn?
  • who might best support me?
  • why do I need to learn it?
  • and how do I learn?


This recognises that the staring point is raised self-awareness. And once we recognise that self-awareness is our staring point it will be difficult to settle for a simplistic surface level approach.


Self-awareness comes out of that old Greek aphorism ‘know thyself’ and has driven different strands of psychology and psychological development for centuries. Indeed, in the late 1920’s Dr. William Marston made use of a behavioural model of psychology in his book The Emotions of Normal People to develop DISC (personality profiling / psychometric assessment) based around the four key personality traits; dominant, influencer, steadiness, conscientious.


DISC is about raising awareness of our ‘default’ personality traits and so behaviours in different interactions and environments. This is not a form of stereotyping, but a recognition that although we are all different, we are all predictably so. This is often difficult to accept, in our rationally driven world. Not because we are so rational, but because we are so clearly not.


This is a key issue holding us back.


The belief in an unemotional stance to practical decision-making (which is left brain thinking) is an outdated mode of thinking which still prevails, yet we know that it is emotions, not the intellect or rational thinking, that drives most of our actions.


If we look at the connection between biology and the brain, we now know that first and foremost we are driven by our instincts through the reptilian part of the brain. This is the basic drive for survival and reproduction.


However, the main decision making part of the brain is the limbic system which drives our emotions, and this system is full of contradictions. This is where our sub-personalities, our inner voices, our archetypes reside.


And finally we have the cortex which is the area that handles learning and the development of logic – which we like to believe is in control – but actually this part of the brain is not put to any practical use until after the age of 7 by which time most of our beliefs and values have been set.


This is where it is of absolute priority that you know your own values and beliefs, for if you don’t you will not be in a position to bring awareness, understanding and direction to your ‘default’ approaches in life.


So if we refer back to DISC we can see that understanding our ‘default’ position is the first step in raising our self-awareness sufficiently to move beyond our emotional drivers. This is our most pressing strategic development need.


Bringing it all together


There are various approaches to reviewing our own performance and development needs. But if we are serious in this endeavour we need to look beyond the surface and raise self-awareness of our own ‘default’ approaches in life. For only then can we truly progress to a more strategic and sustainable level.



If you are looking for support to ensure more productive working see my complimentary Transformational Workbook which can be used for self development or team and organisational development.


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email me at or let’s talk 07843049779.


Pre-order my book DISCover the Power of You: How to Cultivate Change for Positive and Productive Cultures  due for publication through John Hunt Publishing Ltd in August 2017.

They say that the only true and able helper is one that has suffered themselves. Someone who has found their own way out of the ‘hole’ –  discovering and using tools that work – who is then in a position to pass-it-on. Only when you have it can you start giving it away to others. This is precisely what Robert is doing. Take notice and believe, its powerful stuff.” Peter Mitchell, Yorkshire Coast Enterprise