How to Use Personal Development to Drive Innovation

Last October was my 6th year as an independent consultant and entrepreneur working and consulting in the industry of HR and recruitment. It’s an industry that is responsible for hiring, retaining, developing and engaging the talent within organizations. Personal and professional development is a constant focus for senior leaders mostly for those labels as A players and high potentials. What about personal development for those of us who aren’t considered a Hi-Po or those who work as an entrepreneur like me?

For myself, I’m spending the second quarter focused not on me. I’m thinking about my own personal development. It’s something that I’ve been putting on the back burner in favor or business development, fun projects like my recent talk at SXSW and that new book with Marylene Delbourg-Delphis I’m writing.

Personal Development is Not a Linear Path

Personal development like the rest of life is not a linear path. There are ebbs and flows to our growth especially when we’ve committed to learning something new. Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work says that our own personal development and skill mastery follows the same path of evolution of products and services as seen in the graphic below. Growth is slow at the beginning as we learn to master a new skill. Hypergrowth occurs with our growth leveling off once we’ve mastered it.


In 2007 when I started writing on Blogging4Jobs, my writing was nothing special. I took the position of foregoing the use of capitals channeling my inner E.B. White. I wrote hundreds of blogs and articles practicing and most importantly finding my voice. At first, the growth was slow. It was a chore to write unit it wasn’t any more. I could write 5-7 blog posts in a single day. I continued experimenting with my voice, my style and most importantly I kept writing. Because of my hyper growth, my love and interest writing continued to grow. Until that day I became stuck feeling as though there was nothing left to write. I had, according to Whitney “mastered” blogging. The prospect of mastery was something I’d dreamed and worked towards for years and quite frankly it frightened me.

What is Innovation?

Innovation isn’t just disruption. It’s changing your routine and getting out of your comfort zone in a meaningful way. Innovation doesn’t have to completely uproot your life or dramatically change a job or a routine. It simply is looking at and doing something a new and different way. In terms of blogging, that meant expanding the types of topics I wrote about and starting a podcast to continue to challenge myself to learn and do new things.

Innovation is at the heart of personal development the challenge however, it deciding on what new skills, abilities or experiences you want to have. That’s the hardest thing. It’s the fear that holds us back from personal development and innovating ourselves. The fear of failure. It’s the fear of looking silly, stupid or saying the wrong things. The hardest part of personal development is searching out and finding what you want for yourself and not your boss, your partner, your parents. It’s just about you which is why personal development and innovation is an inside game.

How I’m Innovating

As far as my own personal development and innovation, I’m taking stock of those things that I avoid because they are hard or make me uncomfortable and I’m considering for the simple fact I need to start feeling uncomfortable. Otherwise, I won’t learn, grow and evolve. I’ll simply stay the same. My fear of sameness is greater than my fear of the unknown or the fear of doing something wrong, but that hasn’t always been the case. The fear of being wrong has stifled my own personal development and innovation in the past so I’ve sat down with myself over the last couple months and had an honest conversation with just myself. I’ve done a lot of listening and I’ve developed a list of what is holding me back, what captures my interest and how they just might be part of my own personal development path and plan.

This April in particular is a milestone for myself and this blog in my path to innovation and personal development because this site, Blogging4Jobs as it stands now will be no more. Blogging4Jobs has been a great place for me to learn, grow and evolve these past 8 1/2 years, but it’s time to try something new. I’m letting go. It’s time to move on. This butterfly is leaving its cocoon.

Starting this fall, Blogging4Jobs will be reborn into something new that better aligns with my own personal, professional and business development. This quote from Roger von Oech really resonated with me.

It’s time to find a new path. Interested in joining me on this journey? Leave a comment or subscribe to my RSS feed so you won’t miss the big reveal.

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.”

— Roger von Oech
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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Nissar Ahamed says

    Thanks for this. It is encouraging for a new blogger like me to read posts like this. I was impressed to read that in 2007 you wrote 5 -7 blog posts a day – that is highly commendable.
    Another thing, I never realized personal development also meant letting go of old methods that worked. So thanks for sharing that insight.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Hi Nissar,

      Thanks for the comment. In order to escalate personal development, I made the decision to immerse myself fully in it which is why I choose to write so much. It didn’t hurt that my professional goal was to become a pro blogger and HR thought leader who was self-employed. This post is a good reminder for me too as I tend to hold onto old practices and try every 18-24 months to re-evaluate my own career, try new things and shed those things that aren’t making sense for me any longer personally or professionally. It’s part of the development process and journey which is fun and scary at the same time. Thanks for coming by and commenting on the blog. Best of luck in your blogging journey. Let me know how I can help in any way.



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