Five Reality-Check Questions to Ask about Personal and Professional Growth
I have had a number of opportunities in my professional career as I coach leaders and also as I made some transitions in my roles, to reflect of the importance of ongoing professional and personal development for success and satisfaction.
About twelve years ago, after I had already had a long incredible leadership career, and had gotten rather confident in my abilities and, quite honestly, maybe a little sluggish in my development I had a bit of a wake up call. I was at a peak in my career, both in leadership as well as doing workshops and seminars, my coaching career was just taking off, it felt like I was on top of the world. One of my foundational principles had always been gaining my positions and acknowledgement based only on my hard work and abilities, not through any organizational political methods, or “favors”. I took great pride in that fact. I also was known as a very up front and honest individual. What I hadn’t realized was there was a balance of still being honest, sticking to my principles, and yet presenting information to the right people, in a method that they preferred, or would be more receptive to. Not knowing or not being receptive to this idea set me back a bit in my career, and I had to learn that lesson the hard way. This was humiliating but in the long run taught me some very valuable lessons and helped me be much more open to feedback in the long run, and a better mentor and coach as well as a better leader going forward.
Today, I help individuals who are experiencing some of the same Personal and Career Growth Pains. I am constantly working on developing courses as well as learning and growth opportunities for others. Being so involved in teaching, coaching and mentoring can put us at risk to forget to focus on our own personal and career growth. As experienced and/or tenured professionals, at times we might fool ourselves into thinking we no longer need to grow. I have noticed even in myself, I have gone periods where I have forgotten all about my own development, being too focused on everyone else and assisting them to succeed. Nothing could be further from reality. When we are teaching and mentoring others we need even more attention to our own self-awareness and personal and professional growth. So I worked to adapt some questions to help us in our reflection.
Here are five reality-check questions to help you evaluate how you’re doing when it comes to professional and personal growth.
1. When’s the last time you did something for the first time?
If you can’t remember, make a concerted effort to try something new this week. This is my effort for this week, I haven’t written an article specifically for LinkedIn before, so I’m stepping out into a new venue.
2. What have you learned and applied this month?
In other words, how are you growing? It might be something as simple as memorizing a poem that inspires you; or reading a new professional journal; or as complicated as learning a new computer program that increases your efficiency at work.
3. What do you do daily to facilitate your growth?
I use daily email subscriptions and mindfulness practice to help me with this. You might want to try something similar, or you may have other practices that work just as well. Whatever the case, the goal is continual improvement.
4. Are you teaching others what you are learning?
Leaders often mistakenly think that they have to learn something perfectly before they can pass it on to others. The fact of the matter is that, whether they realize it or not, all leaders transfer what they’re learning to other people. Please remember this can be productive or non-productive. So if you are a workaholic and have no work life balance, or have ineffective communication skills, your employees may learn that from you also.
5. When is the last time you sought out feedback regarding areas that you might improve?
Getting feedback from a nice variety of sources is extraordinarily helpful. Be sure to take on a receptive and open attitude when you ask for this feedback, inviting both positive feedback and feedback regarding areas you may need to grow or improve upon. This can shed light on some incredible areas for growth and blind spots you may have had or were struggling to face. This might be the catalyst for you to make that change.
Using these questions in your professional and personal life will provide incredible opportunities and experiences for you to continue to grow, challenge yourself, and develop at a pace that will keep you fresh and performing and living at your best. You will also notice by taking the time to focus some time on your own growth it will decrease the chance for burnout, fatigue, and put more passion in your leading, coaching, teaching and mentoring. Both you and those you work with deserve nothing less.
Please contact me and share your stories when you try these steps. I’d love to hear about your success.