While driving down the interstate recently, I passed a billboard that read, “Recession 101: No one can repossess your future.” I couldn’t help but smile with optimism as I drove by. In the midst of our economic downturn, I’ve heard several say they refuse to live in a recession. Mind over matter, some might say. This billboard echoed that sentiment.
Upon greater reflection I realized an important leadership truth regardless of any economic climate. In any situation, the investment we make in our development is something no one can take away. So the real question is…am I investing in my future?
More often than not, the life of a leader rarely has time for personal development. Time is spent in meetings, taking care of employee issues, doing the actual job and simply keeping your head above water – to only repeat the schedule next week.
So if the workweek doesn’t naturally allow time for you to learn, assess, grow or simply reflect, then we must make the time.
Here are a few tips to help you make deposits into your professional development account:
1. Keep good company.
Just as parents warn their children to be mindful of keeping good company, so it is in the workplace. Make it a point to identify someone in your circle of influence who you can learn from. Is there someone you admire for his/her accomplishments? Spend time with them. Who are the subject matter experts in your field? Get to know them. A monthly lunch or coffee meeting is an ideal way to incorporate informal mentoring into your calendar.
2. Use technology to your advantage.
Consider subscribing to online groups in your field that send periodic updates to your inbox. Latest headlines in your industry become available at your fingertips. Information is pushed to you versus the time spent looking for the latest trend or legislation impacting your industry. Webinars are fast becoming a standard education medium. Online affiliations will increase your opportunity to participate in brief webinars on topics of interest. Many webinars are minimal cost and you can participate from the comfort of your office.
3. Touch base frequently.
It is vital to keep your development on the radar. The many demands of your role often push any personal development to the back burner. While the intent may be present, the reality of life will continually delay the plans you may have for yourself. The recommendation is this: add a monthly appointment to your calendar that forces you to reflect on the previous 30 days. Identify the intentional learning events, progress made to your goals, and plans for the future. The hour spent in reflection helps maintain the priority of your development.
In a time when every dollar spent is under scrutiny, the investment in your professional development may not be financially feasible. But it is still an important element of your future. These strategies are not difficult but they must be intentional.
Start making deposits in your development. You are worth it.