Professional development isn’t only about continuing education. Yes, learning is a part of development, but it is not the development itself. A person can gain information and still lack the requisite wisdom with regard to applying what they learned.
In my experience there are some clear keys to professional development that directly impact the cultivation of proper application of what one has learned.
#1- Clarity – Whether it is therapy, supervision, consultation, coaching, personal development, business planning or any other endeavor, it is absolutely necessary to pause long enough to get clear. I find that many people are rushing from one perceived step to the next, based on what they have seen mapped out in the general social, cultural and professional context. In other words, “That seems to be what others are doing or wanting…so maybe that’s what I want too.” Gaining clarity is a matter of rigorous honesty. One must set aside self delusion and self flagellation. What do you really want? Who do you really want to serve? What do you really want to make? What do you really enjoy? Are you searching for those things and experiences in endeavors where they are clearly non existent? Professional development must be grounded in clarity. What is working or not working and what is it here to teach me?
#2- Courage – I believe true professional development requires courage. Let’s face it — it is easy, albeit painful to stay where you are; to not rock the boat. If you want to grow you must leave the shores of what is familiar and take risks. As human beings we are quite naturally risk averse. We want to grow in our professions but we would rather not deal with our personal challenges if we can avoid it. What must we address within ourselves to cast fear aside and find that clarity we need that leads to the right action? Courage allows you to weigh the options and take calculated risks and then risk risks….the kind where you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you know you must move forward.
#3- Boundaries – So much of our professional development depends upon our ability to recognize what is our “stuff” and what belongs to someone else. Too often we are working double hard to prove we are worthy when we should be setting limits to define our boundaries. In order to grow professionally, we have to confront our personal and private core beliefs of ourselves and others. These beliefs dictate the boundaries we set or don’t set. These beliefs determine our flexibility or in-flexibility. Boundaries are not so rigid that they can’t be altered. But they must be so consistent that we are defining ourselves, knowing ourselves, gaining clarity and cultivating courage. Let others do their work. Boundaries allow us to limit burnout and compassion fatigue. There are limits and honoring those limits is a matter of self respect and confidence. Confidence in its Latin roots means to “go with faith.”
We must be willing to let go of our perceived safety in order to embrace the possibilities of what we can be, build, become and/or cultivate.
Copyright © 2019 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.