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Continual Improvement: Being Your Best Professional

Our youngest brother Colin says a lot of…..interesting things. Things like “baths are overrated” or “sprouted grain bread tastes really good.”

He does say some smart stuff too, just more rarely. For example, he shared a quote with me the other day that has been percolating since:

“What we practice grows stronger.”

I like this quote, as it presents a very clean and clear approach to our daily lives: what are going to practice each day? What skill, emotion, action are we going to nurture versus neglect? The quote led me to think about ways I can grow as a person and as a professional, or what daily choices I can make to improve myself each and every day. Some thoughts:

  • Learning While Listening: I think commutes are a great chance to learn something new or start sharpening our mental swords prior to arriving at the office. However, this time is quite poorly spent by and large, with the majority of us listening to mindless radio or some top 40 to and from work. Lately, I have tried to listen to a book on Audible (sign up for the free trial - you can keep the book you downloaded even once it’s over) or a podcast of substance (sorry, Pardon My Take fans) like Disrupt Yourself or RadioLab. These avenues offer you the chance to learn from someone else or immerse yourself in a story about a successful entrepreneur, and envigorate those mental muscles. Don’t be a slave to your commute, make it work for you!

  • Online Certifications: Even if you are an expert in your respective field, certifications are always a great way to stay innovative and take charge of your development. Many are free, and can be accessed via simple sign-ups or websites. Sites like Lynda or Code Academy can help you foster skills you already possess or learn something totally new. Adding tools to your toolbelt can only help you when the time is right to make a desired career pivot or simply to say the right thing in that next meeting. How much time do we waste on the computer at work? If only 20% of that was dedicated to learning something new, what could you accomplish?

  • Talk To People: I always find it kind of weird how quiet a break room with more than five people in it can be. All of the people are colleagues, some even peers, and they choose to remain buried in their phones or silently eat lunch and look at Reddit. I always challenge myself to meet a new colleague each day - easier for large companies, I realize - and learn what they do. Sometimes connections can be made I would never have noticed previously! As a rule, people love to share what they do and are usually very willing to discuss...themselves. Take advantage of that, and let your network benefit.

After all, “Your network is your net worth.”

Our brother did not come up with that one.

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