As professionals and as leaders, it is imperative to continuously learn and grow. Without personal development, a leader may find themselves continually using the same skills and thought processes to address challenges, resulting in stagnancy and frustration. Without continuous learning and growth, innovation and creativity are slowed or even halted. Additionally, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, growth is a requirement for self-actualization, which describes the fulfillment of one’s potential.
While most professionals and leaders understand the need for professional development and learning, an issue arises when there are limited opportunities to engage in professional learning and growth. There are many reasons why leaders do not engage in professional development, including the following:
Regardless of the barriers one may face when contemplating professional learning and growth, a successful leader will own their own development. It is advantageous if the organization that a leader is affiliated with supports and facilitates professional development for its staff; however, if the organization does not, a proactive leader will seek ways to grow themselves professionally and advance their career. Here are a few strategies for taking ownership of personal development and growth:
There are three primary goals for seeking professional development: (1) personal growth; (2) job efficacy; and (3) career advancement. Taking ownership of your professional growth and development will result in personal fulfillment, the ability to meet and exceed expectations in one’s current role, and preparation for the next career phase.
Disappointment occurs when reality doesn’t meet expectations. Perhaps a family member, friend, or colleague did not behave the way they were expected. Maybe money did not arrive when it was supposed to. Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion that you went after. Maybe your team fell short of a performance goal. Perhaps your marketing campaign did not generate new customers. The list could go on and on. Disappointments can happen anytime and they can happen often. How do you deal with disappointment so that you do not become discouraged or give up? Here are a few ways you can deal with the disappointment in your life:
The end of every quarter of the calendar year is an excellent time to reflect upon current performance. This reflection is critical in order to meet or exceed the year’s goals. When this reflection is done after the first quarter, there is still ample time to accomplish the goals that were set for the year. Here are some steps that you can use to complete the reflection process:
Step 1: Identify the goals that you set for the year. Hopefully, you set between one and three key goals for the year. These goals and their associated action plans should be guiding your actions and decisions. It is easier to track the progress of these goals if they are written as SMART goals. If you set goals but did not ensure they were written as SMART goals, tackle that first.
Step 2: Determine how much progress you should have made. Many goals are measured by where you should be at the end of the year, but what does progress look like in April? July? October? Break your overall goal into milestones for the four quarters of the year. For example, if you were aiming for increasing the dollar amount of your sales by 10% by the end of the year, you should expect to increase sales by 2-3% each quarter to meet that goal.
Step 3: Identify whether you did not meet, met, or exceeded your milestones. If you met your milestones, great job! Keep doing what you’re doing! If you did not meet your milestones, it is time to revisit your action plan. Are you doing what you said you were going to do to meet the goal? Are the action steps that you identified working? This is an opportunity to research, regroup, and reorganize your action plan. If you have exceeded your milestones, you may want to reevaluate your goal to see if you were setting the bar too low. Don’t limit yourself by your goal—you can keep pushing to the next level!
Step 4: Define next steps. At this stage, you have to decide if you need to revise your goal, revise your plan, or go back to the drawing board. You may have found that the goal that you set for the year is no longer appropriate based on newly identified needs or opportunities. For example, if you set a goal to secure a certain number of new clients, but new opportunities have enabled you to offer a greater array of services to existing clients, you may change your focus. Use discretion when changing or abandoning goals and certainly don’t give up on a goal because you didn’t make the progress that you thought you would make during a certain time period.
Goal-setting and attainment is the heart of success. Mastering this process will ensure that your business is profitable and sustainable. As you practice this process, you may find these other blog posts helpful:
How to Make Goals Stick
Bouncing Back After Defeat
If you would like support in identifying the needs for your business and how to set goals that will address those needs, contact me for a free consultation!
Have you ever felt like you end up in the same situation over and over again? Maybe you find yourself in a job that seems is going to end in your termination. Or maybe you discover that the problems in your new relationship are identical to your past relationship problems. In our personal and professional life, if we don’t learn the lesson that we’re supposed to, we may find ourselves repeating the same scenario until we do. Learning a lesson results in growth and change on our part. In order to understand a lesson, we have to go through the process of the pain, experience, learning, and growth. If you skip the process, then the experience was not beneficial for your professional or personal growth, and you will find yourself in the same situation, just in a different location with different people.
How do you know you have skipped the process?
It can be difficult to go through the process of learning a lesson, but skipping the process results in more damage in the long run. How can you make sure that you are not skipping the process?
Most of the growth that we experience is the result of life lessons. If we skip the process of learning lessons in life, we will find ourselves growing older but never growing up.
You have put in the time. You believe that you’re good at your job. People around you are moving up, yet you keep getting passed up for promotions. Perhaps you ask yourself, why am I constantly overlooked?
Managers and leaders look for a variety of qualities and qualifications when it is time to promote from within the organization. If you are consistently passed up for promotions, it may be for one of these five reasons:
If you believe you have been passed up for promotions or other leadership opportunities, reflect on your performance before getting frustrated with leadership. It is possible that you have not demonstrated your readiness for promotion as well as you believe you have. Don’t be afraid to ask your hiring manager what you could do differently or better in order to be promoted and receive their feedback with a positive attitude.
We have a tendency to romantacize the past, especially when our present isn't ideal. Some people believe that their high school days were their best ever or that college was the best time of their life. Others long for past loves or mourn over material things that they have lost along the way. It can be tempting to try and recreate the past as a solution to a present slump. There's a saying that you can never step into the same river twice. That's because the water is always moving and changing the river so that, even if you returned to the exact same spot where you once stood, the river is still not the same. The river has changed and so have you.
We have to be careful not to spend to much time looking backwards and keep moving forward, no matter how wonderful the past used to be. A mindset of a true visionary is that your best days are yet to come! This means that we often have to let go of strategies and systems that no longer meet the needs of us, our businesses, or our teams. Saying, "Well, that's how we have always done it" is an excuse for a lack of innovation, creativity, and efficiency. Instead, practice the strategy of continuous improvement. A true leader is a life-long learner that is willing to re-assess, re-focus, and re-strategize!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you determine how to keep moving forward:
If you would like help or support in implementing a process of continuous improvement for yourself or with your team, give me a call!
Reflection is a precursor to growth. It's nearly impossible to move forward when you do not know where you have been. The end of the year is a great time to pause and reflect on how you have grown and performed over the last calendar year. Before developing new goals and resolutions for the upcoming year, pause and think about your journey.
Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself:
Practicing the process of reflection will lay the foundation for your goal-setting. Those who do not identify and recognize their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Similarly, if you do not know your own recipe for success, it will make it more difficult to replicate that success. Do not skip the reflection process--it will provide you with the growth that you need to make incredible progress next year!