Be A Professional
November 27, 2021
You can’t grow professionally if you don’t grow personally- this is one of my core life mantras. Any growth you wish to see in your professional realm can happen if you focus on growing as a person first. I believe that your professional growth is just a manifestation of your personal evolution.
Through my three decades of work-life, having worked with many people, I have come to this broad view that there are two types of personalities. Those who have a plan for their personal growth and learning pathways and those who don’t.
I call the ones who belong to the second category “coasters.”
These are people who are constantly caged by the present circumstances-victims of their current reality. If the Organisation rewards them with a promotion for their work, they are happy thinking that is growth. And, if the Organisation gives them no rise, they conclude that they are not growing and jump ship to get to the next place willing to take them for their baseline skills. Such people are stuck in their current work context, thinking that they will work their way to growth by doing what their job requires them to do. Many of them believe that the responsibility of their growth is with the Organisation.
In contrast to “coasters,” there are those with a clear roadmap for their learning and development. I believe these are the true “professionals.”
They are the ones with forward-looking plans. They map their interests and skills with opportunities and trends that they observe. And then they then “prepare” themselves for the future. They do this by proactively investing in their learning in four distinct ways.
- Learn On The Job: The professionals approach their job as a learning opportunity. They operate with a scientific bias having feedback loops for everything they do. They can clearly articulate the specific ways they have grown in terms of skills, competencies, and range of experiences when doing any work.
- Learn Through Networks: Here the professionals learn by being part of different communities, at work, online, off-line. Being part of a community or a network involves being present in various forums and absorbing the wisdom of those in the network. Networks are a great source of information when it comes to market trends.
- Learn By Teaching/Mentoring: You learn best when you teach. True professionals look beyond themselves to generously share their knowledge and guide others in their growth. Teaching or mentoring others helps transform unstructured experiences and ideas into specific knowledge.
- Invest In Discretionary Learning: Lastly, Professionals invest all three resources-time, money, and effort to mindfully seek out structured learning opportunities that help prepare them for the future. They could do this by enrolling for coaching certification, meditation course, a python programming course, or mandarin speaking course. Any activity that becomes a new source of skill, knowledge, or competency is discretionary learning.
Be A Professional- Invest In Your Learning
I recently came across a 1988 article in Harvard Business Review(HBR) titled “Planning as Learning” by Business theorist Arie de Gues. In this article, the author says- “We understand that the only competitive advantage the company of the future will have is its managers’ ability to learn faster than their competitors.”
What is incredible is how prescient the author was when writing this article.
Thanks to technology, work environments and people alike are all getting disrupted at an unprecedented scale. Business models and existing skills are becoming obsolete, and in this shifting landscape, “Coasters” will struggle. To thrive in this new era requires us to learn at the speed of change, keeping track of the significant shifts and trends. True Professionals with their focus on personal development will always be ahead in this evolutionary race.