Professional Development Goals

Through the last few messages, we’ve taken a look at some data answering the question Why is Professional Development Important?... I closed last time by emphasizing that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach and promised to work through some things each of us need to consider as we’re moving down our own growth path. But before I cover a few examples, let’s be sure we’ve all got the right thought process. Without that, the rest may not even matter…

More than a century ago, James Allen said that “people are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” Oh my goodness! What if Mr. Allen was around to see the mess we’re dealing with today… 

All too often, folks want to be respected as a leader before they take full responsibility for leading. But that’s not where it stops! How often have you heard someone say that they’d be willing to take on new tasks if their employer would pay them more? Much like farming, that’s just not how I’ve ever seen the process work… There’s this whole thing of sowing first so we have a chance to reap later.

I was one of forty new full time employees who was hired to work in a manufacturing company in March of 1996. While I didn’t have any manufacturing experience, I was pretty good at working with my hands and I was intent on trying to outperform whoever I was around. Being willing to work harder and longer than most folks served me well to a certain point, but it wasn’t long until hard work alone just wasn’t going to take me any farther. The challenge was that I had no idea what else I would need to do. I started grasping at straws, taking a class here or reading a book there, hoping that something would click.

In the opening chapter of The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, The Law of Intentionality, John Maxwell told me how ineffective that approach really is when he said that “working hard doesn’t guarantee success and hope isn’t a strategy.” It’s a shame he hadn’t written that yet when I was fumbling around, trying to figure out how to reach that never level of effectiveness. 

Over the last several years, I’ve heard John teach frequently on what he calls his “Rule of Five,” detailing the five things he’s sure to do every single day. I won’t go into what his five things are here - that’s not the point. What he emphasizes each time he shares that story is the importance of being very intentional about defining the key things we each need to do on a daily basis in order to reach that next level we’re aiming for. And whether it’s in a certain area of our personal life or it’s specific to our professional development goals, even the best plan will yield limited results unless we invest the energy up front in doing one very specific thing! We’ll look at that next...


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