Sep
26

Is Sharpening Your Skill Set Along the Way the Fine Print to Your Career Success?

by  Kristy Smith  |  Leadership Development

This is a question I have been meditating on for a few months now. A blog post by Julie Winkle Giulioni finally helped me formulate my thoughts enough to externalize. In Julie’s post, OCD: The Unexpected Trait that Employees Want (and Organizations Need ) Most in a Leader, you quickly learn the OCD she is referring to is less Freudian but a diagnosis for an Obsession of Career Development. Julie does a great job of quickly outlining the traits of the “OCD-minded” in today’s work place, which helped bring life to my tagline. I actually scribbled the tagline in my journal several months ago, hoping it would evolve into something more.

Inquisitive by nature, I have always reveled in information of all sorts, naturally in topics related to me of course, whether hobby or profession. For article sake, let’s stay on task with professional jargon; otherwise, I might start rambling about how to self-cross pollinate tomato plants if you happen to live on the 20th floor of a high-rise in downtown Chicago where bees evidently don’t frequent. So yes, I thrive on reading, learning, digressing, accessing, and analyzing information, whether it is from a news site, a case study, from a peer, or one of the dozen blogs I subscribe to. It keeps me up to date, gives me talking points, and helps me to feel more present, aware, and prepared. Personally, I view this to be an unspoken part of my job, my role, and what I bring to the table. Other people’s words and thoughts, as they pertain to my function, act as a brainstorming session. Yes, you and I regularly brainstorm together and you don’t even know it.

So while it’s probably no surprise that I am a huge supporter of corporations offering on-going career development and training, in very tangible ways, I have an equally strong belief that personal development is necessary to fulfill your commitment to your company, your peers, your staff, and yourself!

The rapid exchange of information and opinion that social media alone offers underlies how crucial continuous development is, just to stay relevant for tomorrow. Remaining competitive as a whole only occurs by remaining competitive as an individual, this makes on- going personal development and the fine tuning of your skills a key component of your job responsibilities.

So where lies your weakness(s); where’s your next opportunity for growth? Secretly suck at Excel or just want to be better? There are tons of free online tutorials, just YouTube your problem and there is likely a 3-5 minute video of ‘How To.’ Regularly communicate with an overseas office but don’t speak the language? Learning a few words or making an attempt to understand their culture can go a long way. One of my favorite go-to are podcasts. For years I have spent my 30+minute commute to and from the office either screaming at other drivers or obsessively flipping the radio station all to never hear a thing I want to hear. A year or so back, eager to finish a TED Talks started the night before, it dawned on me to finish on my drive to work. It changed my life! Now, nearly every work day, my mornings are filled with an informative, interesting, thought provoking podcast of my choosing, some mornings leadership and management, other mornings nutrition or financial tips. Think about it; that’s roughly 150 hours a week, otherwise unaccounted for, of free learning and personal development.

B O T T O M  L IN E , there are countless tools out there that can contribute to your personal growth. Take advantage of them! If you work for a company that provides on the clock time for personal development, consider yourself lucky! If you do not, don’t think it’s not required; just consider it part of the fine print in your employment agreement!

A few of my favorite continued learning sites, podcasts, and sites- Will you share yours?

Continuing Education

Coursera- https://www.coursera.org/

Podcasts

EntreLeadership – http://www.daveramsey.com/entreleadership/podcast

Coach for Leaders- http://coachingforleaders.com/

David Allen Company- http://www.davidco.com/podcast

Harvard Business Review- http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/

Quick and Dirty Tips Series- http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/

Websites & Blogs

Forbes Leadership- http://www.forbes.com/leadership/

Entrepreneur. com- http://www.entrepreneur.com/

Harvard Biz Blog- http://blogs.hbr.org/

Brazen Life- http://blog.brazencareerist.com/

The Daily Muse- http://www.thedailymuse.com/

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Articles By kristy-smith
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What People Are Saying

Mary C Schaefer  |  26 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thanks so much for writing this post, Kristy. I’m definitely going to refer people to it.

I worked at a corporation for 20 years and it took me awhile to realize that not everyone felt the same interest or commitment to their own development as I did. Once downsizing became common, employees started looking for “the answer” to remain employed. Unfortunately many thought the answer was keeping your head down and your nose to the grindstone. Don’t make waves. When I would propose another option, few were interested. I think this point from your post sums it well:

“Remaining competitive as a whole only occurs by remaining competitive as an individual, this makes on- going personal development and the fine tuning of your skills a key component of your job responsibilities.”

People would be mad that expectations of performance would change over time. But it’s up to us to roll with those changes, right? And taking responsibility for the “fine print,” as you suggest, IS key.

Good job!

Kristy Smith  |  26 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Mary, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you liked it! It’s amazing to me that after people finish their formal education and get into a cushy position, they sort of allow themselves to shut off the learning part of their brain unless otherwise required. Regardless of topic, having the ability to learn new things, information or skills, is such a gift! I’m all for giving the ole’ noggin’ a break with a mindless TV show; after all, life is about balance, but it becomes clear very quickly, in a conference room or at a cocktail party, those who have opted to continue learning and challenging themselves and those who have not!

Thanks again Mary!

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