"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."
—President John F. Kennedy
How responsibly are you acting toward developing your skills? Are you responding to the current economic situation positively, preparing yourself to grow through, and then out of, all of these opportunities? For a moment, put positive "thinking" and wishful "hoping" off to the side...
Instead, allow yourself to focus on exactly where you are. Take a "snapshot" of what's going on, how you're doing, and where you could put your "professional development" focus next. Start a list of where you'll be and what you'll be doing four to eight months from now. This vision will help you determine what skills you'll need to develop along the way.
Where we are today financially, socially, professionally, etc., is the direct result of what we thought was possible and what opportunities we acted on. Often, people in our seminars want another list of ways to improve their productivity. But, before we give them another list of things to do, we encourage them to identify exactly what they want to focus their productivity toward.
There is a subtle difference between focusing on something and focusing toward something. With a three to six month time-frame in mind, think about just one area of your profession or career to build on strategically. What is a skill, talent, or strength you can improve? Focus on something that will make a difference in the way you get things done, then take positive and responsible action toward realizing that difference.
1. Extra, Extra...Read All About It
With hundreds of business, how-to, and professional development books published each year, just going into a bookstore might overwhelm you. In fact, looking around your office or bookshelves at home, you might have books you have been meaning to read for months (or years!). If this is the case, consider this activity: Pick a skill area to learn about, choose a book about that topic, and read Chapter 2.
By no means does it take the place of reading the book, but sometimes you can read the second chapter to know whether or not you need to buy and/or read the rest of the book. In our own research, we found many business books start with a story (much like Jason's upcoming book, "The Promise Doctrine then in chapter two outline the learning points the book will present throughout the subsequent chapters.
2. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words—so, a video must be worth millions
Once you've identified your area of development or growth, go "see what you can see." Google Video and YouTube are just two of the searchable sites you can go to find lectures, presentations, and discussions on those topics.
Start this learning "adventure" by setting a timer for 25 to 35 minutes. Then, do a couple of searches for the area of focus you want to learn about. Chances are, you'll find a lineup of Websites with all kinds of videos, or video clips, about that topic.
3. As The Nike Slogan Says, "Just Do It"
We've all heard the saying, "Actions speak louder than words." Go experiment with some of the ideas you're learning about. Once you read something you are ready to work on, make a very specific effort to practice it for the next five days. A five-day experiment will be short enough for you to focus on and actually "do," but long enough to give you some objective feedback.
Also, consider keeping some sort of log or journal of your effort. A "learning page" in your notebook may include the following information:
- Date/day of week
- Area of focus
- Learning/new information
- Experiment and result
There is a saying out there that "practice makes perfect." Practice makes something, but it may not be perfection. In fact, if practice makes anything, it's habit. So, if you want to move forward as a learner, to continue the path of your own personal and professional development, make it a habit by practicing new things. In the next few days, what can you read, watch, and do to move you along the way?
Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, and Jodi Womack, MA, help professionals up-level their professional performance through maximizing time, energy, focus, and technology. www.WomackCompany.com. To receive your own Personal Productivity Checklist, e-mail Jason and Jodi at: