Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are You Investing in Yourself?

I’m back! Happy New Year!

Besides being distracted with the holidays, I have been working about three jobs at once and so the blog, one of my favorite things to do, fell away. I’ve missed it. So one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post at least once a month. The past two years I wrote close to once a week, but as I am doing a lot more writing now, I have to be realistic about how to spend my writing time.

We all want to make the new year better than the one before. Sometimes, though, it seems like things are out of our control. However one thing we can always control is our own attitude. My number one resolution is to weather all the inevitable bumps and storms in our lives with more grace. We will always have recessions and wars, difficult people to deal with, and bouts with sadness and anger. Handling these expected parts of life with grace, understanding, and good humor is a lifelong pursuit which I plan to put more focus and awareness toward in 2012.

Although I would love to spread more cheer with my writing, I am not going to change this to a humor blog. I am afraid I can’t become a humor columnist because as a leadership coach and trainer, we are a serious bunch dealing with a serious issue. I mean, look around. Our leaders have led us into quite a few pickles what with the huge government debts, foreign entanglements, and struggling economy.

I can guarantee you that no leader that I have coached ever contributed to these global problems. And it’s not just because I haven’t coached any high level politicians or military leaders. Well, not the only reason. I have had the good fortune to attract clients who have more than their own egos to develop. Clients who are earnest about professional and personal development, which means that they stay true to their values and priorities, and work to clarify and strengthen them.

Which leads me to the real topic of this blog: you! I think you should make a resolution to invest in yourself this year. Not just putting away savings, like your financial advisor says. Not just spending some “you time” at the spa or on vacation. All good goals, sure, but I am talking about your personal and professional development.

The best leaders are continuous learners. I’ve advised “investing in your best” before, and now I want to extend that to investing in you, so you can be one of the best yourself.

Yesterday I spoke with a client who told me that his organization had identified eight main competencies that everyone needed to have. Every employee rated their own level of expertise on each competency, and then picked two to work on for the year. They didn’t have to be the competencies they were weakest in, they could even be the ones they were strongest in, but they had to pick two that would make up their 2012 development plan. (Interestingly, conflict management was the top pick across the company.)

I encourage you to do something similar. You might look at the competencies in your profession. Or the competencies required by good leadership. And you may want to take a look at personal areas that you’ve always wanted to improve. Public speaking?  Golfing?  Parenting?  Bridge?

My suggestion is to pick one from each list: one professional area to develop and one personal area. They may overlap, which is all the better. Once you decide, look up classes, books, blogs, and who is the best in those areas. For this year, resolve to do what you can to get better in those two areas. At the end of the year, I bet you will have had a very productive year.

So yes, I am going to take control of my attitude more. I want to be able to weather all the ups and downs with more grace, and to experience more joy. That’s my personal goal which I think will definitely spill over into my professional life. I will have to see what webinars are out there for that.  There is plenty written about controlling one’s attitude but not so specific about how to weather the storms with grace and still spread joy. Maybe I will have to write something…which leads me to my professional goal:

Professionally, I am going to concentrate on developing not only my writing skills, but learning more about the process of writing and publishing. Now that I have a writing coach, I have found out that there is so much more to it than just the actual writing part! At the end of the year, I hope to have finished a book.

Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a year full of joy-filled growth!

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