Introduction: Importance of Continuous Professional Development
Over the past six months or so, I have read several articles about the things you need to do to become successful. One of the items on the list is usually some form of continuous learning. The writer may call it ongoing learning or professional development. Or he or she may refer to reading books or taking online courses. I’m going to guess that most people recognize and understand the importance of continuous professional development, but what they may not know is how to systematically go about it – how to add it to their day.
I read a lot of books from many genres. And I am in the fortunate position that I have a friend who works for a publisher. So, she gives me a lot of books, some of which I would never have bought for myself. A few of these books have helped to shape my thinking, forcing me to reflect on what I have read. With the dizzying pace of change most of us do not know what will happen next, but when you invest in continuous professional development, you create more options for yourself because of the ideas you are constantly generating.
Recently, I learned about the Heuristics Ideation Technique, and the Jobs to be Done Framework. Although the concepts have been around for a while – they were new to me – I was able to apply them in fresh ways. The Heuristics Ideation Technique was designed to help you to generate product ideas. And by playing around with it, I came up with an idea for my book summaries. The Jobs to be Done Framework forced me to look at what job my book summaries is doing. If continuous professional development was not a big part of my life, I would not have been exposed to these two tested concepts that are new to me. Hopefully, by the end of this article, I will demonstrate to you the importance of continuous professional development.
Have you read?
Importance of Continuous Professional Development: How to Structure Your Learning
To reap the benefits of ongoing professional development it is best to schedule it into your day. Although it may sound odd, you have to schedule your reading time. You have to schedule time to take that course you have always wanted to take. A few years ago, after reading articles on the benefits of a liberal arts education, and as someone who has business degrees, I decided to work on an informal liberal arts education. I chose the courses that I wanted to take, and for a year, every morning between 6:00 am to 9:00 am, I was at my computer taking courses. At some point during the process, I made sure that I took some courses to make be better at my craft.
Out of all the courses that I took, only one I paid for. Because there was a structure to my learning, it was easier for me to complete the course. One of the lessons I learned, that will benefit others, is to be more strategic about the courses you take. I took courses I was interested in, instead of courses that would take me to the next level of my career. There were times when the courses I was interested in, were also the courses that would take my career to the next level. But more often than not, that was not the case.
Presently, I am hosting the Strategic Reading Challenge. You read five books each month. The books you read include books written by authors born in countries all over the world. In a global workplace, the ability to get along with everyone, is a prized skill. Reading books by authors, who are different from you, allows you to develop cultural awareness and sensitivity. The other key part of the Strategic Reading Challenge is to read books that will make you more valuable to yourself, your clients and your employer. That means that you read books to develop new skills, to update your skills, to elevate your thinking, to stay on top of industry trends, to solve problems, and so much more. By reading broadly, you become a more rounded person, developing both hard and soft skills in the process.
Have you read?
I have been an avid reader all my life. And I intentionally try to read diversely. But what I have discovered, is that by working through the Strategic Reading Challenge that I am hosting, I added more structure to my reading. A big thrill is finding the perfect book to satisfy the monthly elements of the reading challenge. Even when I read fiction, I learn skills that I can apply to work. What some people may not think of, is that the characters in well-written fiction, have lives they lead – they work, they have outside interests. Authors often are very knowledgeable about certain topics, and that shines through in their work.
Conclusion: Importance of Continuous Professional Development
I would love it if you joined me on the Strategic Reading Challenge, since you can join anytime. It is more important to me, for you to add structure to your learning. Add structure to your professional development, so that you reap the most benefits possible.
Look at your life right now, what skills do you have to acquire to accelerate your career? Focus on reading books and taking courses that will help you to develop those skills and abilities that you need to succeed in your career. You already know the importance of continuous professional development, now what you have to do, is to add structure to your learning and development.
First Appeared on Birds on the Blog – updated and expanded here.
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