Last week, our organization’s leadership team stepped away from daily operational tasks to visit new places together and reflect on this exact thing. It was a great reminder of how valuable it is to intentionally invest in personal development.
How are you and/or your team currently pursuing growth? Is development a consistent part of your routine, or something you check off the list with a conference once a year?
Like you, I value hard work, productivity, and challenge. Meaningful outcomes require concerted effort, but effort alone is not enough.
Yesterday’s thinking will not solve tomorrow’s problems and travelers on the path of unrelenting effort will inevitably burn out.
Personal and professional development is a multiplier of hard work, and with the right rhythms in place, our best efforts can be sustained over the long-term.
If the urgent grind is your daily reality, here are nine ideas to consider for investing in personal development and building rhythms to increase your effectiveness and fulfillment. Some of these points may be new to you; some will be reminders of what you already know. The key is not to know them, but to do them.
As you read through each item on the list, ask yourself, “What am I doing now that needs to be disrupted? What rhythms do I need to start, stop, or continue? What would change if I consistently include this in my daily, weekly, monthly, or annual routine?”
Pause and Reflect
Perhaps this is obvious to you, perhaps not; either way, reflection is the linchpin for growth and the secret ingredient to productive work. Without purposeful reflection, learning and growth are hard to achieve. Yet, our tendency to focus on doing often relegates thinking to the portion of our to-do lists we never actually achieve.
Our world can get very small, very fast. And, when our world gets too small, everything in it looks bigger than it really is. We lose perspective. Visit a new place, experience a new culture, and be open to what you find.
Browse and observe
What are others in your industry doing? What are others in other industries doing? What is anyone anywhere doing? Sometimes we need a spark, and that spark could come from anywhere. Browse websites or social media pages, visit another organization’s office, read about progressive companies, or intentionally observe the details of a brand you respect. What transferable ideas could be applied to your work?
Revisit your purpose
The tree in front of you obscures your view of the forest. So it can be with daily tasks and urgent activities. Revisit your purpose to be sure the daily work is still aligned with the reason the work exists.
Dust off your goals
Goals are a way we measure progress. By mid-year, the goals we intended to achieve are sometimes discarded in favor of operational execution. Be sure the work you are doing is helping you achieve your goals. If you don’t have goals, now is a great time to create them.
Try something new
We often think learning only comes through traditional means. However, the path to personal growth often leads through new experiences. Experiences bring learning to life in a way that nothing else can.
Attend a (different) conference
Conferences can be hit or miss, and attending a conference is not necessarily a good way to develop. Still, the right conference at the right time can be a great way to gain new ideas, expand perspective, meet new people, find inspiration, and learn new skills. Look for conference experiences that will challenge your thinking. Earlier this year, I attended SXSW, a conference in Austin, TX where I took more away from the premiere of a rock-climbing film called The Dawn Wall (highly recommended) than I did from sessions relating to the workplace.
We all have that stack of books we’ve been meaning to read. Reading takes time and can be easily disregarded if its importance is not continually reemphasized. Reading is a great way to gain knowledge, and gaining and applying knowledge are the critical components of growth. Remember to read about a variety of topics, not just those specifically related to leadership or your specific industry. One resource I recommend is LeaderBox™, a book subscription service offered by author and virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt; I have found it helpful during the past year.
Evaluate your calendar
The last rhythm. If you don’t have reflection, reading, travel, conferences, goal planning, exercise, or any other type of personal and professional development on your calendar, none of these things are likely to happen. You and I must be intentional about personal and professional development. It takes a new mindset—a belief that development is an essential part of work. If your calendar is glaringly void of the types of things on this list, now is a good time to reassess.