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ENHANCING PERSONAL QUALITY
By Ranjit Singh Malhi, Ph.D. 

What is Personal Quality?

Personal Quality is the degree to which an individual expresses positive personal attributes, practises good human relations and exhibits superior work performance.1 The most critical attribute of personal quality is self-esteem which makes the most of one's personality and abilities. In the words of John Gilmore, "The most conspicuous characteristic which differentiates the highly productive individual from others is self-esteem."2

Positive Personal Attributes
  1. Having high self-esteem.
  2. Practising self-responsibility.
  3. Being action-oriented.
  4. Being self-disciplined.
  5. Being persistent.
  6. Practising what you preach.
  7. Maintaining high integrity.
  8. Being receptive to constructive criticism.
  9. Being flexible and adaptable to change.
  10. Managing time successfully.
  11. Being a good communicator.
  12. Being well-groomed and well-dressed.
  13. Keeping fit and healthy.
  14. Leading a balanced life.
  15. Seeking continuous self-improvement.
Good Human Relations
  1. Treating everyone with respect and dignity.
  2. Looking for the good in people and in situations.
  3. Showing a genuine interest in other people.
  4. Creating "win-win" relationships.
  5. Being a good listener.
  6. Treating people fairly.
  7. Giving honest and specific appreciation.
  8. Giving credit where credit is due.
  9. Managing your emotions productively.
  10. Admitting your mistakes.
  11. Smiling and acting cheerful.
  12. Calling attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  13. Maintaining confidentiality.
  14. Speaking positively of others or not at all.
  15. Sharing ideas, skills, experiences and pertinent information.
  16. Practising the basic courtesies such as saying "please", "thank you", and "sorry" when necessary.
  17. Being empathetic; always trying to see the other person's point of view.
  18. Honouring commitments.
  19. Assisting others in their growth and development.
  20. Avoiding needless arguments and sarcastic remarks.
Superior Work Performance
  1. Producing error-free work.
  2. Doing top priority work first.
  3. Meeting work deadlines.
  4. Knowing your job thoroughly.
  5. Taking initiative for work improvement.
  6. Making sound and timely decisions based on Management by Fact.
  7. Anticipating problems and preventing them from occurring.
  8. Being a team player.
  9. Following through on tasks.
  10. Being creative and innovative.
Enhancing Personal Quality Model

All of us, regardless of our age, experiences or academic qualifications, can enhance our level of personal quality. Based upon my extensive literature research and interactions with thousands of participants during workshops on self-development, I have developed a four-step model for enhancing personal quality which also encompasses high self-esteem and self-renewal.

Figure 1: Enhancing Personal Quality Model


Step 1: Determining Current Personal Quality Level
The first step in enhancing personal quality is to determine your current personal attributes, human relations skills and your work performance. This step would help you identify the gaps between your actual level of personal quality and the desired level of personal quality. The end result of this step is the identification of areas for improvement pertaining to one's level of personal quality.

Step 2: Formulating Personal Quality Action Plan
The second step is to formulate your Personal Quality Action Plan. In this regard, you have to establish your personal quality goals and determine the various action steps to attain them. Your personal quality goals should be specific, verifiable, realistic and time-bounded. For each goal, specify the action steps you need to take to attain it. For example, what knowledge or skills are required to help you attain your goals? What personal contacts do you need to establish? Place time limits on your action steps. It may also be necessary to list the possible obstacles that may hinder the attainment of your goals and the various ways of overcoming them.

Step 3: Taking Action
Execute your Personal Quality Action Plan daily. Focus your attention on attaining your predetermined personal quality goals. Manage your time successfully and avoid procrastination. Do first things first. Maintain self-discipline and perseverance in attaining them. Never, never give up. Persist, until you succeed. Treat failures as learning experiences.

Step 4: Monitoring Progress
You should review progress towards attainment of your personal quality goals. If you are not attaining your goals as expected, take the necessary corrective action to get back on the right track. Readjust your goals, if necessary, according to changing circumstances.

High Self-Esteem

High self-esteem pervades the entire Enhancing Personal Quality Model as it is the cornerstone of personal quality. One has to be empowered from within to produce quality work consistently. Self-esteem is essentially one's overall sense of self-competence and self-worth. Self-esteem makes the most of one's personality and abilities. It empowers individuals to attain desired goals and to respond positively to challenges in life. High self-esteem also triggers enthusiasm and enhances creativity.3

Self-Renewal and Continuous Improvement

Personal quality is a moving target; it is a continual process of improving oneself. In this regard, self-renewal is critical in sustaining or reinforcing your efforts towards continuous personal quality improvement. The four major dimensions of the self-renewal process are physical, mental, social and spiritual. In the physical dimension, you need to maintain your health through regular exercise, proper nutrition and adequate rest. Mentally, you should practise rational thinking; maintain a positive attitude of "I can do it"; be receptive to new ideas and constructive criticism; and become a lifelong learner. With regard to the social dimension, you should maintain or promote good interpersonal relations with others, both in your professional and personal lives. Spiritually, you should maintain faith in yourself and in God. Faith provides hope and confidence during challenging times.

20 Guidelines for Enhancing Personal Quality

  1. Know the Real You. Capitalize on your strengths and overcome your major weaknesses which impede personal productivity. Identify and discard false beliefs about you.
  2. Learn to love yourself for you are unique. Avoid dwelling on needless or negative comparisons with others. Accept gracefully what you cannot change.
  3. Have trust in your abilities to perform particular tasks or to handle specific challenges in life. Practise positive self-talk. Visualize success in your career and in other areas of your life.
  4. Accept 100% responsibility for your life and career. Make a firm decision to change for the better. Be proactive; make things happen. Avoid blaming others, fate or luck for your state of affairs.
  5. Determine your personal quality goals. Develop action plans with realistic deadlines to attain them.
  6. Take action to transform your goals into reality. Review progress towards attainment of your goals and take the necessary corrective action.
  7. Maintain self-discipline and perseverance. Concentrate your efforts on attaining your vital few goals. Make sacrifices and postpone immediate gratification for reaping future dividends.
  8. Improve your communication skills. Practise speaking up at meetings. Learn to become a good listener.
  9. Manage your time successfully. Prioritize your goals and do top priority work first. Identify your time wasters and get rid of them. Continually ask yourself: "What is the best use of my time right now?"
  10. Make a positive first impression. Be well-groomed and well-dressed. Be punctual, make your first few words count, speak audibly, and use appropriate language and facial expressions.
  11. Know your job thoroughly. Choose to enjoy your work and take pride in it. Make the best of your working environment. Learn how to manage your boss successfully.
  12. Produce quality work within deadlines. Practise preventive management by building quality into the work processes. Anticipate problems and prevent them from occurring.
  13. Make sound and timely decisions based on relevant facts.
  14. Treat people with respect and dignity. Make them feel important. Give honest and specific appreciation. Praise in public; provide constructive criticism in private.
  15. Practise what you preach. Maintain integrity at all times. Honour all promises and commitments.
  16. Seek out the good in people and speak positively of them. Accept each individual as a unique person. Be friendly and smile at others.
  17. Create "win-win" relationships. Seek mutual benefit in all human interactions. Assist others in their growth and development.
  18. Demonstrate emotional intelligence. Empathize with others by being sensitive to their feelings and concerns. Hold your temper and make your emotions work for you. Use "I" messages to express your emotions without putting other people on the defensive.
  19. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Maintain physical fitness by exercising at least for 30-45 minutes, three to four times a week. Eat sensibly by maintaining a balanced diet and have adequate sleep and rest.
  20. Seek continuous self-improvement and practise self-renewal (physical, mental, social and spiritual). Be open to new ideas and constructive criticism.
Conclusion

You are your own greatest and everlasting motivator. You can either continue to drift aimlessly in a sea of mediocrity or make a firm decision to become a peak performer by enhancing your personal quality. The choice is yours. I wish you success in your quest for enhancing your personal quality and attaining peak performance at the workplace and in other areas of your life. Life is too precious a gift to be wasted. Live your life with high personal quality!

Notes

1. See Ranjit Singh Malhi, Enhancing Personal Quality: Empowering Yourself to Attain Peak Performance at Work (Kuala Lumpur: TQM Consultants Sdn. Bhd., 2008), p. 2.
2. John Gilmore, The Productive Personality (San Francisco: Albion Publishing Company, 1974), p. 227.
3. For detailed guidelines on building and maintaining authentic self-esteem, see Ranjit Singh Malhi, Enhancing Self-Esteem: Reengineering Yourself for Success in the New Millennium (Kuala Lumpur: Self-Esteem Seminars Sdn. Bhd., 2007).