Do you know why professional development is important? It’s because professional development makes the difference between success and mastery.
I came to this conclusion after I stumbled upon a speech by art historian Sarah Lewis. It was fascinating because she spoke about success as an event — something you can reach. But mastery was described as the ability to duplicate your results by reaching that same goal again and again.
If you play darts, success would be hitting the bull’s-eye. Mastery would be knowing that it doesn’t mean anything unless you can do it over and over again.
Professional development helps us know what to do every time we step up to the dartboard. If you don’t learn precisely how to hit that bull’s-eye, there’s no way you can continue to do it over time.
While you may not be a master at playing darts, you do want to be a master at your job. Professional development gives you the opportunity to gain the know-how required to master your career and provides you with specific tools to put that knowledge into practice. With these tools, you will learn how to become an expert in your role and excel as a business owner.
That being said, there are some basic skills everyone needs to get the most out of their professional development. And as I mentioned before, professional development ultimately leads to mastery, so you want to ensure you are well-equipped to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
Skill No. 1: Be Teachable.
Having a flexible mind and an ability to adapt and grow is invaluable in life, especially as an entrepreneur. I see so many business owners who don’t try to learn anything new because they’ve “been in business for X number of years and haven’t needed to change so far!” And while it’s great that it works for them, sooner or later, they’ll have to adapt. Failing to adapt means your competitors will outpace you, and you’ll find yourself scrambling for purchase. Being willing to learn and grow is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
So, when it comes to professional development, enter with an open mind. While you may know your business inside and out, you don’t know everything, and there are things others can teach you. In our world of constantly changing technology and business practices, there will always be something new you haven’t heard about or might not understand. Admitting what you don’t know will only help you obtain more knowledge and keep you steps ahead of your competitors.
Skill No. 2: Celebrate Your Small Wins.
It was Drew Dudley who said, “We spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do that we’ve convinced ourselves those are the only things worth celebrating. We start to devalue the things we can do every day. We take moments where we truly are a leader, and we don’t let ourselves take credit for it or feel good about it.”
That rings so true to me. How often have we accomplished something, only to brush it off later? When we celebrate the small wins every day, we shift our mindset into one of gratitude and confidence. We start to notice the little positive things that happen every day. When my staff was in the office, we had a large gong hung up right in front of my office door. Every time someone made a sale — no matter how big or small — they’d come hit the gong, and the whole office would take a moment to hoot and holler for them.
When you put something you learned from professional development into practice, ring your gong — whatever that means for you. If you took a course on a new CRM software and have started seeing results from what you learned, celebrate! It doesn’t matter how you do it, but taking time to feel proud of what you’ve accomplished from your professional development will only reinforce your desire to learn. And the more you know, the closer you are to mastery.
Skill No. 3: Get Away From The Mindset That You’ll Become An Expert Or Successful Once You Achieve A Specific Goal.
Sure, there are markers of success, but if we overlook where we are now, we’re selling ourselves short. As Sarah Lewis said, mastery is in the continual reaching, not the one-time achieving. The more we learn, the more we discover how much more there is to learn. That’s why professional development is important to mastering business; it’s a positive cycle that continues simply by participating in it.
With that in mind, as we start planning for 2023, I wanted to encourage you to look back on 2022 with new eyes. Notice and celebrate the small wins. Let yourself feel the victories! Then, take a hard look at your skill set and ask yourself, “Is there more I can learn?”
That’s a hard ask sometimes, I know. It’s difficult to admit when we might need a little help or clarity on things in which we feel we should be experts. But remember, the world is constantly evolving, and there’s always something to learn. It’s great that you had successes in 2022, but success is a moving target. Every new year offers more opportunities to grow your business and proficiency.
The last thing I want to touch on briefly is the concept of the moving target. That used to drive me crazy when I was younger! It was easy to think, “Can’t I just accomplish something and relax?” But the older I get, the more I realize what a blessing it is. When we always have something we’re pushing toward, we thrive.
The more we know, the more we learn how much there is to learn. And I could not be more grateful for that opportunity.
I hope you can use these skills to become a lifelong learner and participate in a few professional development opportunities next year. If you don’t know where to start, there are a lot of online learning resources like LinkedIn, GoSkills, or MasterClass to help you find the right professional development course right from your own home.
Do you and your business a favor by taking ownership of your learning and aiming for mastery, not just success, in 2023.