Today's webinar introduced a very important concept in our lives - professional development. People often find themselves unable to strike a proper balance between their professional or personal development and other important aspects of their lives. Many years ago it was quite possible for average University graduates to find decent jobs and do them well without worrying about their relevance, professionalism, expertise and possible job hunting in the future. Times have changed today, and as Howard Gardner has eloquently put it, "if you are not an expert, you will not be able to work in the world of the future, or you will work for somebody else who is an expert" (1). But what does it take to develop such an expertise?
The majority of us have jobs, some are more satisfying than others, but all of us do something for living, and that separates us from the animal world. Another important life aspect that makes us humans is our ability to think and analyze the information around us, to make our own judgement, to advance our own careers, and to pursue the job of our dream. Can you imagine if all of us had the jobs we loved that were paid well? It is possible, but not everyone achieves that.
It used to be that in order to get an ideal job one had to just graduate from the University. Not anymore. University graduation is only the first step in your search for an ideal job (see the chart above). Only 25% of your success in this search depends on your College degree (and other formal training options), 75% stands for informal training (reading, conference attendance, online classes, video courses, etc.), networking, and collaboration (involves working on projects together with a variety of specialists).
Professional development is a challenge to many for various reasons:
- Lack of desire: this is produced by low level of motivation and little passion for the job. Another common reason for resisting professional development is the idea that "your job is the best you have."
- Lack of resources: this includes finances and time. Then people say that they have very few options for professional development, which, frankly speaking, is rather a lame excuse.
- Lack of focus: this happens when people agree to professional development but have no idea how it contributes to their overall life-goals. They get carried away with various options and fail to become experts.
- Lack of short- and long-term goals: This is connected with the previous one. Having goals is not popular in our culture. But at the core of not planning is the fear that the plans won't work out, or, worse, a superstition that somebody might jinx your plans and they will fall through.
- Lack of accountability and/or healthy competition: This happens especially when you work on your own (as a freelancer), far away from civilization where you can't compare yourself to anybody else. When you travel little, read little, collaborate little and are not a part of a professional network, you stop growing because you start comparing yourself to yourself.
(1): By Professor Howard Gardner - COPYRIGHT Howard Gardner 2008
Note: This paper was given as an oral presentation at the Ecolint Meeting in