Five Tips for Professional Growth

Professional growth doesn’t happen through giant steps or grand leaps.  Rather, it is the daily small actions and repeated steps that facilitate growth day by day.  As the saying goes, “Most people over-estimate what they can do in one year and under estimate what they can do in five”.  Here are a few small steps to take daily or weekly to provide yourself with professional growth.

1) Be great and looking good will take care of itself.  In today’s world of social media, the 24-hour news cycle and digital overload there is a lot of emphasis on quantity of contacts.  It is easy to become disillusioned regarding what is important.  By putting emphasis on the quality of your work you will shine over time.  Nothing replaces high quality and a strong work ethic.

2) Read for thirty minutes every day.  In addition to increasing knowledge on any subject matter, people who read for at least thirty minutes every day report reduced stress and increased empathy.  Reading increases emotional intelligence while also providing exposure to leadership, industry trends, history, business and more.

If you can’t decide what to read, start with the publications from your professional organization.  A few good reads we recommend:

  • Harvard Business Review has many articles on a multitude of business topics.
  • Monday Morning Mentoring by Dave Cottrell is a great book for leadership basics.
  • Drive by Dan Pink is an excellent read for how to motivate people.

All public libraries have experienced librarians who can help you research and pick books that you will enjoy.  Additionally, most public libraries offer the ability to check out e-books for free if you are looking to read on a device.

3) Be Curious! Curious yet not nosy.  We have found that naturally curious people ask themselves the questions that lead to personal and professional growth.  It is important to acknowledge the challenge of being curious and exploring new concepts, while staying in your lane and performing your own job well. Exercising curiosity will open new doors that will allow you to contribute and perform your own job at a higher level.  Great questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the innovations that are helping our competitors perform well? How can we innovate to excel in our own way?
  • How can my role or my department go above and beyond to help the overall organization achieve its objectives?
  • What are the areas where I am thriving professionally and what does the next level look like?

4) Find a mentor.  Many mature and experienced professionals enjoy helping other people get ahead.  Mentors enjoy sharing their experience and knowledge to continue their professional legacy and pay it forward.  We spend so much time going to school to learn a profession and continuing education.  Some of the most valuable wisdom to lead to success is the person who works next to you all day, every day.

5) Be a mentor.  As much as you will learn from a mentor, you will reinforce your own knowledge and grow professionally by helping others to succeed.  Try to remember when you first entered the work force, or even your current company.  Sometimes it takes a while to learn the ropes.  Think about all the tricks of the trade, or best practices you have learned to work efficiently.  How did you learn them and how could an early careerist benefit from your wisdom?  Paying it forward is your chance to participate in the professional wisdom ecosystem.

It doesn’t take big steps or doing everything at once. Pick one or two actions and in five years you will look back to discover how far you have come.