Gulp. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard that quote, it really struck a chord with me.
As a leader, do you feel as though you have arrived? Have you learned and mastered everything you need to know? Are you expecting your team members to improve, grow, and develop where you have not? I’ve got news for you, my friend, if you don’t make the time for yourself to learn, grow, and get inspired, no one around you will either.
There was a Nike ad a few years ago that used the tagline “There is no finish line.” It was an ad specifically about running, but I think that it applies to personal development as well. The fact is, growth is a lifelong journey. You never arrive. You’re never finished.
Today is the perfect day for you to commit (or maybe re-commit) to investing in your own development, to becoming a lifelong learner. Here, just to make it easier for you, I’ve put together some
Tips for amping up your own personal growth plan:
- Be curious. Explore topics that interest you – even topics that on the surface have nothing to do with your work. Often you can take the lessons learned in one area/industry and apply them to another. A great example of this is the Pumps and Pipes group in Houston. Two of that city’s major industries – medicine and oil and gas – discovered that they shared similar technologies and challenges and came together to determine if there are crossover technologies from which they could both benefit. Their website profoundly says “The solutions to our problems most likely lie in someone else’s toolbox – the challenge is in finding it.”
- Plan for it. Growth and personal development don’t just happen automatically. You no longer have teachers overseeing your development, and if you don’t schedule some learning into each day, it simply won’t happen. Imagine if you set a goal to lose 20 pounds. You’d have to do something each day to get you toward that goal. You certainly won’t just wake up one day and notice that 20 pounds have magically melted off while you were sleeping! Learning and growing happen incrementally. Schedule time to read for 30 minutes in the mornings or even 30 minutes during your lunch break. Load up your smart phone with good audio books or podcasts and listen while you work out. Be proactive.
- Learn from your experiences. This may seem obvious, but many people miss out on the value of making a misstep by not learning the lessons. It’s always a good idea to take some time towards the end of a year/project/experience and make notes on what worked and what didn’t. Then, figure out a way to create more of what’s successful and less of what isn’t. The value of the experience is more relevant than the cost. It’s what you do after the experience that’s important.
- Read! Business author John Maxwell says that if you want to become an expert in a subject, study that topic for one hour every day for five years. You will certainly know more about that subject than most of the people around you. (BTW, if you don’t like to read – and that’s another subject entirely – you CAN still study and learn by listening to audio books or podcasts while you drive or work out. So you have no excuse!) Take notes about how you might apply that principle in your work.
- Invest in your personal and professional development. Don’t wait around for someone else to suggest you attend a conference or seminar – go out and find appropriate learning events and attend. Find associations and organizations in your industry and attend meetings to keep up with the current trends and issues. Generally the return on investment for personal and professional development is as much as thirty times the investment. In my book, that’s pretty good ROI.
Remember that you can never lead others where you haven’t first led yourself. And when it comes to growing yourself and becoming indispensable to your organization, competition and politics won’t propel you forward. Quit comparing yourself to others. Strive to do better today than you did yesterday.
I’ll go back to that Nike ad because I think it’s pretty profound:
Beating the competition is relatively easy. But beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.
- What will you commit to doing to develop personally and professionally?
- What’s something you are already doing – maybe an everyday discipline – that you practice to continue learning and growing?
I’d love to hear what’s working for you and what you will implement. Please leave a comment on my blog below and share your insights with the community.
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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication. In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.