Leading up to this point, we’ve looked at several answers to Why is Professional Development Important? and we’ve worked through several key things we each need to consider as we set our Professional Development Goals. While that should serve as a reasonable foundation that we can build on as we’re intentional about growing professionally, there’s no reason we should feel like we’re alone in the process! Having strong examples to follow can help the process go much more smoothly…
Let’s face it, no two people will follow the exact same journey when it comes to their professional development. We all have different experiences we’re building on and it’s extremely rare for any of us to have the same long term goals - especially when we’ve invested the time and energy necessary to gain the kind of specificity my friend challenged me to get. But regardless of where we’re coming from or where we’re heading, there’s still no need to start from scratch.
In complete transparency, I understand how tough it can be when we start a new role with more and different responsibilities than we’ve ever had. Just keeping our heads above water with those new tasks can be a huge challenge even without taking anything else on. It can often feel like the best option is to get in a rhythm before we add one more thing to our plate. But choosing to wait until we have more time can be a recipe for failure, especially when so many of those new responsibilities require us to do things we’ve never done before!
While it doesn’t always feel like it, there’s a high likelihood that we’re not the first person to ever be in that specific scenario. One of the things that’s helped me the most when I’ve been in a position like this has been to look for folks who have had similar experiences and learn all I can from them. In many cases, some of them are people we interact with on a daily basis and all we need to do is start asking them questions. I really believe we can learn something from every person we interact with, even if it’s what NOT TO DO, but the best examples I’ve ever had were the people who had not only been in similar situations but the ones who had been intentional about continuous professional development as they worked through those similar situations. Even though our approach may vary a bit from theirs, studying what they did can give us so much perspective on what types of professional development resources can give us the most value and how we can manage our time as we work to keep all of our plates spinning.
As we identify the best examples we have access to on a regular basis, we can begin studying their successes and failures with hopes of streamlining our own path forward. And when we’re asking these folks questions about their journey, we begin building relationships that can provide us with something even more powerful in our professional development journey. We’ll dig into that next, then we’ll circle back to those resources that can often seem overwhelming...
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