Introduction – The Blue Door
The Blue Door is quite simply a powerful metaphor for the subject of personal development, behind which lies the key to making the best use of the RESOLVE model.
The nature / nurture debate will engage developmental professionals and practitioners in a debate that will roll on through the ages. What is beyond discussion is that early life development and early formative experiences within the family, at school, etc. help to shape us as adults. What is not so clear is where this ‘early life’ experience finishes, and the extent to which personal development continues into later life.
The Blue Door as a concept is based on the premise that ‘personal development’ is a lifelong process, and represents a never-ending journey of opportunity and learning. As such, it represents a way for people to continually assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life, and to set goals in order to for them to become the very best version of themselves.
This sits slightly apart from Continuing Professional Development (CPD), where our career and vocational skills are specifically set out in a range of qualifications and awards, which are now often prescribed in competencies and standards. Many of these quite rightly allude to personal attributes that are often found in contemporary and professional job descriptions. In these organisational contexts, CPD refers to programs, tools, techniques and assessment systems that support individual growth in a way that best meets our work role and the needs of the organisation.
However, there are a set of so called ‘soft skills’ which often play second fiddle to the harder, more technically aligned skills associated with work based competence; in some cases, soft skills are only nominally mentioned, but are expected nonetheless. Ironically, it is the lack of ‘soft skills’ that is at the core of many interpersonal or relationship difficulties. In some professions, such as therapy, counselling, coaching, mentoring etc., the soft skills are the hard technical skills; yet, it is wrong to assume that these professions are the only places where they have any value.
By going behind the Blue Door, you start a process that helps you to identify the skills you need to set broader life goals which, when achieved, can help you address any deficiencies or shortages that were not covered during the formalised development periods associated with early, junior, senior and higher education. In addition, time behind the blue door helps you develop inner confidence and self-esteem. Ultimately the process is empowering and helps you lead a more fulfilling, higher quality life, involving making relevant, positive and effective life choices and decisions for your future, all of which enhance your work based relationships and improve your employability prospects.
Any development programme represents a journey through the Blue Door, behind which you will find other doors with titles that may well be unfamiliar. Travellers on this journey recognise that each door should be opened, and then entered into with an open minded in order to see what is on the other side. The content may or may not be relevant to you. However, you won’t know this unless you are sufficiently aware of what is on offer; you need to reach the point where you can make an informed choice as to whether or not it will help you on your learning journey.
The immense value associated with the travelling the journey behind the Blue Door is that it represents the ultimate buy one get one free. The irony is that not only are the knowledge, skills and competences associated with areas useful in their own right, they represent ‘process or how to tools’: it is the area of process that has most been lost in the drive towards to an outcome based culture where, targets, measurement, and assessments are so prevalent.
It is not hard to spot people who have invested time studying Blue Door topics; they are competent in the ‘how to do’, as well as ‘the what to do’. Spend some with them and their levels of self-awareness become apparent – they know their own Johari window.
Listen to them in discussions and you will notice that they listen in a different way, and seem to be able to reach win win solutions in debates. How do they do that? Very often you will find them acting as work place coaches, where they bring out the best in others, helping them too be the best version of themselves. They are probably very busy people, have a sense of purpose and are recognised as someone who gets things done: not only do they manage their time well, they are adept at setting goals that are more than SMART.