3.3.2 Individual: Personal Mastery

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Every human being is made to learn. Without learning there is no growth. And without growth there is no life. "I have been a student my entire life. I crave new information and enjoy exploring areas in which I have little or no knowledge. To me, constant learning is an essential part of life and I can’t imagine not having the drive to pursue it" (source).

So, don't focus yourself on learning itself (learning as a goal) but on the conditions to learn (learning as a means / learning culture), and learning will take off just by itself! It's magical!

The text above can be read in the introduction. It is one of the four metaphors we use. This one might by the most powerful; intrinsic motivation!

As Peter Senge says, there is no organizational learning without individual learning: "People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’. Sometimes, language, such as the term ‘personal mastery’ creates a misleading sense of definiteness, of black and white. But personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident. Paradoxical? Only for those who do not see the ‘journey is the reward’. (Senge 1990: 142)"

See the next video to see how personal mastery fits into a learning organization.

Individual learning

==> step 1 Change from Within

The first step in your route to a (more) Learning Culture is via Personal Mastery, the fundament of a learning organization.


The intrinsic motivation to learn is based on three basic elements; purpose, autonomy and mastery (Daniel Pink). If all three conditions are met, the power comes from within!


On average only 20% of all employees worldwide are engaged (Gallup). In organizations with a Learning Culture this is 81% (Bersin).


At SOL we focus ourselves on Personal Mastery. A combination of personal and professional development.

The Problem:

Personal Mastery is much more than participating in formal learning programs. The real challenge is in informal learning (on the job). But how do you organize this? In a meaningful way that can be sustained for a long time (life long learning).

The SOLution:

You need a Personal Mastery program that is strong in its simplicity and powerful because of its effectiveness. 

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The SOLution

It's good to mention we think/know there is no one best solution to develop, implement and maintain a (more) Learning Culture in your organization. You have to find your own solution, based on your own insights, context, support etc.


With SOL, based on our knowledge and experience, we have developed our own SOLution. Several tools, development programs, conSOLtancy etc. focused on developing a (more) Learing Culture. Use this as an inspiration or input for your own learning journey.

Personal mastery is a combination of personal and professional development. Personal mastery is defined by us as living purposefully and working towards a vision, in accordance with your values and in a state of constant learning about yourself and the reality in which you exist.

Personal Mastery is a process that never ends. It is good to develop a rhythm for yourself that suits you well. Here is an example of a Personal Mastery program. An 'annual heartbeat' that we use at SOL NL to support this development process. It is as simple as it is effective. It works like this.

Every year

Every year you do major maintenance. You ask yourself the basic question; am I happy in what I do? Will I continue to do the job/activities that I am currently doing? Or are adjustments desirable or even necessary?

Depending on your answer, you get to work. A good method is to write a letter to yourself. In one year, where will I be in my personal mastery? What can I do in one year's time that I can't now, and how did I pick it up? What competencies have I developed? What qualities did  What have I grown into? How is this visible? For myself? For others?

Can you share this letter with family, friends, colleagues? Than the impact of writing this letter will grow exponentially!

Every quarter

Every three months you make a learning contract with yourself. Here you answer the following five questions:

  1. Where do I come from?
  2. Where am I now?
  3. Where do I want to go?
  4. How will I do that?
  5. How do I know that I have achieved my goals?

It's hard to do all this on your own. We therefore recommend using the proven 3 x 3 x 3 method. Working with three colleagues for three months, each with three learning objectives.

Every month

The advice is to get started with one learning goal each month. The moment you start working on several learning objectives simultaneously, it becomes very difficult to achieve these objectives. In the picture an overview of the steps that you consciously or unconsciously go through (Kolb's learning circle). Is this not practical enough? Then use the well-known Plan-Do-Check-Act steps.


We suggest you to start working with "implementation intentions". The idea is simple: to start with a change and to sustain it in difficult moments, you have to concretely describe the desired behavior within the context in which it has to take place. 

In practice this is not easy at all. You need the care and support of your manager, colleagues etc.

Every week

Peer-2-peer learning is very effective. You being a learner and a teacher/coach/mentor at the same time.

You preferably meet one or two colleague for an hour every week to learn from and with each other. 

With input both from the monthly experiments, everyday learning's and from the 3 x 3 x 3 method.

Every day

Every day you reflect on your own performance and write down your "Learning of the Day". This is a very effective way to change your mindset in the direction of intentional learning. According to Mc Kinsey and Company the most effective way of learning.

For instance, at Danone they use this method for many years. It gives a boost to the development of a more learning culture.

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POWER OF SIMPLICITY

POWER OF COMMUNITY

POWER OF THE SYSTEM

Power within

Personal Mastery

Easy to understand rhythm

Peer-2-Peer and 3 x 3 x 3 method

Systemic tools

Purpose, Autonomy & Mastery










Personal Mastery

  1. Power of Simplicity: For life long development you need a simple but effective tool you can hang on to. A tool  that changes your mindset and get you focused on intentional learning. This is thé most powerful learning on the job concept! An easy to understand rhythm (see above) can be very helpful.
  2. Power of Community: Working on yourself does not mean you have to work alone, on the contrary! It's much more effective to work-and learn together. For quality (realistic reflection), for inspiration (it's fun to do things together) and for motivation (easier to keep up).
  3. Power of the System: As a professional you can use a lot of the available systemic tools and interventions. One of the most important tools for the individual is "creative tension". Focusing on negative things, on problems, gives way less energy and seems to narrow our mind.
  4. Power Within: For your personal development its vital to tap into your intrinsic motivation to learn. The three most important variables for this to achieve are purpose, autonomy and mastery. Remember, you are yourself responsible for the luck and success in your own life!
    As SOL we have developed a 3-month development program, based on these concepts. For more information please check the SOL NL website.



Doing is the new learning. 

It is reported that we need at least forty days of practice to form new neural networks to change behavior.

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