Archive for category Professional Development

How I Decided on My One ‘New’ Activity for 2019

Earlier this week I came across Jacob Morgan’s suggestion to do one thing every year you’ve never done before.  He recommends this as a way to keep growing and learning.

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I frequently take on more than I have capacity for.  The appeal of Morgan’s suggestion is that it improves focus and likelihood of getting really good at something.  The downside is potentially forgoing other activities that are interesting and valuable.  However, Morgan doesn’t say not to do other things.  My interpretation is to make one thing a key focus and put more effort into mastering it.

Without consciously applying this concept, in 2018 my one new thing was the Learning Uncut podcast.  I also did other things I hadn’t done before.  This included running a public workshop series and managing a highly collaborative global project virtually.  Each of these activities required development of new skills.  Each exposed me to significant learning opportunities.  However, the podcast stands out as it required the most sustained effort, and is I will continue to do it as a foundational element of my work.

To decide what my new focus activity is for 2019 I started with a short list of options.  They are actually all things I’ve done previously but, as I mentioned in a previous post, not all to the standard I would like.  The short list is:

  • Webinars
  • Dangerous Blogging
  • Online course(s)

I rated each from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) using the following evaluation criteria:

  • Business Impact – Will it have a positive impact on my business success (sales, cash flow, profit)?
  • Contribution – Will it help others?  Over what time-scale?
  • Learning – Will it stretch me and help me to learn new, useful skills?
  • Joy – Does it spark joy for me? (An adaptation of Marie Kondo’s key question about possessions in their book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying)

My initial numerical evaluation failed to discriminate adequately between the options.  However, it did provide one critical insight.  I initially rated all options low against Joy.  To sanity check this I picked three activities that had brought me joy in 2018.  The common thread across these activities was collaboration and connection with others.  These were all activities I had undertaken with at least one other person and which allowed me to interact directly with many others.  This is something I have come to appreciate about myself in 2018 – collaboration is a critical ingredient of my best, most enjoyable work.  It also accelerates my learning.  So, whichever option I choose I should find a way to collaborate and connect as I do it.

I was still unsure which option to choose, so wrote a brief qualitative evaluation of each.

Webinars

I ran three webinars in late 2018, all with another person.  They are a good way to share knowledge and ideas.  Done well, they encourage action and support change.  They are versatile e.g. could be used for building capability, generating change and marketing.  I enjoy developing and delivering them.  They are a good way to connect with others and create an ongoing conversation.  I could so some in partnership with others, and some solo.  The technology and cost to get started is low and I could rapidly build upon my existing skills to deliver great webinars.

On the con side, a lot of webinars are delivered for free so it could be difficult to monetise them.  But not impossible.

Dangerous Blogging

This style of blog writing is about generating change in an area that matters to you.  The intent is to highlight what isn’t working now and share a vision for a different future.  My quest is to transform approaches to learning in organisations.  I’ve been blogging in this way under the guidance of a mentor, Katie McMurray, for two years.

This is different to my daily dispatches (one of which you are reading right now).  The purpose of a daily dispatch is to show a piece of your work for the purpose of learning and improvement in work practices (your own and others).  I find dangerous blogs much more challenging to write.  The stakes are higher and the effort to gather my thoughts and convey them more demanding.  I use a mentor for motivation, accountability and improving technique.  Katie Mac is also a source of good ideas and advice on other profile / publicity activities.  She provides a different perspective on my relevance and potential contribution.

I sometimes want to give up Dangerous Blogging.  I find it a lonely, occasionally frustrating activity.   I persist as I see tremendous value and potential to create change if I do this well and consistently.  It’s a longer-term play.  Belonging to Katie Mac’s Dangerous Blogging community connects me with a supportive group of fellow bloggers – we encourage and learn from each other.  Participating actively in this group is an important support mechanism, and takes the edge off the loneliness.  I could lean in more.

Online Course

I’ve developed online courses as part of a team inside an organisation and updated a largely curated course for a client.  However, I’ve not created any online courses in my own business.  Creating an online course requires a wide range of skills – all of which I could build or source through others.  Technology selection would require research and/or assistance.  I may require technical support with the build and/or hosting.  The commercial risk is higher on a course than a webinar.  Research and a lean development approach would help address this.  I could use webinars as part of my research and development.

Final Rating and Decision

I reviewed numerical ratings after completing a written summary.  Written reflection helped to clarify my thoughts and refine my ratings.

My decision on each option is:

  • Webinars – My focus activity for 2019
  • Dangerous Blogging – keep going, write regularly (one morning per week), participate actively in Katie Mac’s Dangerous Blogging community, build mastery over time
  • Online Course(s) – Assess in light of my progress in other areas and capacity in July 2019

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Questions to Help You Identify Your Development Goal(s)

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Today I created a preparation guide for people joining me for a Professional Development Planning session.  I am offering 1 hour mentoring sessions to help people accelerate their development with a plan that will keep them future-ready.  We will use transformative approaches fit for today’s networked, digital era.

Note: I am currently running a competition to win a 1 hour Professional Development mentoring session.  Two winners will be drawn at 8.30am AEDT on 4 January.  See here for details of sessions and the competition.

Here are the prompter questions I’ve included in this guide to help people to identify their development goal.  Feel free to use and share these – with acknowledgment of their source

1.  What goal or project do you have in the coming 12 months that will really stretch you? What specifically will it demand of you that will be a stretch?  What knowledge or skills will you need to acquire or improve?

2.  What is changing in your industry? What opportunities does this create?  What knowledge or skills do you need to acquire or improve to be successful?

3.  Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? Which of the following (if any) would you like to change:

  • Organisation
  • Position
  • Industry
  • Employment status (e.g. employee, contractor, freelancer, business owner)

What knowledge or skills will you need to acquire or improve to make these changes?

4.  Can you access a current capability/skills framework for your profession or industry? What insights does this give you regarding knowledge and skills you could develop?  If you are a Learning and Development professional I recommend the Learning and Performance Institute’s L&D Capability Map.  You can view the framework and do a free self-assessment here.  (Note – the assessment will take you 45-60 minutes if you read the skill descriptions properly.)

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Do One Thing Every Year That You Didn’t Do The Year Before

I’m refreshing resources in preparation to run mentoring sessions to help people develop a Professional Development Plan.  I want to give people a different perspective on what it means to take charge of your own development.  To unleash greater creativity and boldness.  To help transform approaches to professional development.  To help people stretch and build future-ready learning skills and habits.

I checked on Jacob Morgan’s YouTube channel where he posts about the future of work.  Some of his videos are aimed at employers and leaders, other at individuals.  I was looking for content talks about why continuous learning is an essential skill and habit for individuals.  I discovered one I hadn’t seen previously which excited me. It’s something I think I would benefit from applying.  My reaction is an indicator that it’s worth sharing with others.  It contains one key idea.

Morgan’s ‘One Rule to Keep Growing and Learning’ is to do one thing every year you haven’t done before – and to do it really well.  He’s talking about something big that you embed as a foundational element in the way your work and think (I would add ‘learn’ to this list of verbs).  While Morgan talks about this in the context of building his personal brand (which can be inside an organisation or outside), it is completely relevant to your professional development and future-proofing your career.

Looking back on 2018 the one big thing I did was to launch Learning Uncut podcast with my colleagues Karen Moloney and Amanda Ashby.  Of course, it wasn’t the only thing I did that I hadn’t done before, just the one that was the biggest stretch and took the most effort.  It will also continue so is now a foundational element of my work.

I have several options to decide between for my one new thing for 2019.  “Do I really need to limit myself to one?”  If I want to do it really well … the answer if probably yes.  Morgan’s point is about becoming great at one new thing.  It’s about focus.

I’ve been hesitating to name my one thing as there is an opportunity cost.  Putting effort and resources into one thing means less investment in other things.  After leaving this penultimate paragraph unwritten for several hours I realise that I’m not quite ready to pick my one thing.  I have short list of options.  All are things I have done before.  However I’ve not done any as well as I would like.  None of these skills or practices have reached the standard I aspire too.  I’m going to vary Morgan’s advice.  Rather than doing one new thing, I’m going to pick one thing I’m already doing.  Then I’m going to do it regularly, frequently – and become really good at it.  I’m not yet sure which to pick.  I’ll create evaluation criteria and rate each option.  I’ll also speak with some trusted advisors before finalising my selection.

Watch Morgan’s video below and let me know what you think of his advice.  Will you be doing one thing in 2019 that you haven’t done before?  What is it and why did you select it?

 

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What I Learned In October 2018

I did something different with my monthly ‘What I Learned’ video for October.  I was inspired by the impact of brevity on my blog writing.  My wonderful publicity / blogging mentor, Katie Mac, set me a challenge.  My writing was weighed down with very long sentences.  Katie gave me a constraint.  No more than 13 words per sentence.  What?!  Write an 800-word blog post with no sentences longer than 13 words.  Is that even possible?  It is!

I was delighted with the impact on my writing.  It’s clearer, punchier and easier to read.  See for yourself in the post I wrote.

Constraints encourage creativity.

My previous ‘What I Learned’ videos have been over eight minutes.  This month I strove for brevity.  I cover three things in less than 2 ½  minutes.

  1. Brevity and constraints – see above.
  2. Using Mailchimp confidently.
  3. Fundamental knowledge about puppy psychology and physiology. For a dose of cuteness watch from 1:33min  to meet Bella, my Yorkipoo.

I normally record my monthly video on a digital camera and edit in iMovie.  To support my goal of brevity I made this video using Apple Clips.  This was the first time I used this tool.  I thought it would be a quicker process.  It was.  I was also interested in the automated sub-titling.  The automated sub-titles are reasonably accurate, but not perfect.  However, since making this video have learned I can I edit the sub-titles. Overall, I was pleased with Apple Clips and will continue using it.

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