Create Your Own Professional Development Plan

Ongoing professional development involves a constant commitment to your personal education. Your organization’s success—and the health of your own career—depend on it.

One core value I try to instill in every client following a communications training engagement is to commit to develop a plan that serves them well in weeks, months, and years to come.

How can you achieve your own system? Foster this desire for professional improvement through your personal experiences as well as through reading, observing, and listening. Keep your mind open to those learning moments that spring up at the most unexpected times and places. Perhaps you happen upon an article that strikes you as particularly insightful. You may attend a presentation or observe a media interview from which you can take a tip or two. Or you might gain an idea on the spur of the moment from a colleague. Such instances will crop up as you walk through life. Be attuned to them.

Watch other executives as they communicate in public situations, not with the intent to mimic, but with the curiosity that will aid your professional development by noting their positives as well as their gaffes.

100% success

You are quite likely to need a trusted guide to help set you on the right path, one who can offer you regular checkups to ensure you are attaining your preferred progress. You should, in concert with your guide, decide what your benchmarks are. Improvement means different things to different people. You may want to scale the heights and capture the ability to address thousands in a convention hall. Or you may simply need to get better when delivering a chalk talk to half a dozen co-workers.

You are in school for the rest of your life: Communications school. This educational institution is one without walls, without report cards, and without grades. You have the benefit of being able to spend your time learning whatever you want to learn whenever you want to learn it and at whatever pace you choose. Think how overjoyed we would have been to have such possibilities as high schoolers.

Dedicate time to learning what you need to walk tall down your chosen path, whether that be a better job, a shinier public image for your company, higher status as a community leader, success in winning elective office, or any other goal that is important to you.

Commit to curiosity. Read the great speeches from history. Ask questions of dedicated communications training experts and read what they have to say.

One note of caution: Be sure that you carefully vet your sources. There is a lot of bad advice out there, especially online, but also in books and articles. Lifelong learning involves understanding how to separate real gold from fool’s gold.

Your turn. What added techniques in this area can you suggest to boost your career options?



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