When a person finishes their formal education, that closes a book on growing in knowledge, both academic and socially; or so they think. Even if someone drops out of school be it high school or college, the thought is: “I am street smart and can take care of myself,” or “This is not relevant to me and I am out of here.” [Now the exact reasons and words may not be exact, but you understand what I am saying here.] What happens next, is usually a wake up call for most. Out in the real world of life, they find out they are now on a steeper learning curve than they ever had in school. Earning a living requires a whole different set of skills. Many find that what the need to earn a living and what they know to date has created a “gap” in their knowledge base. This is the moment when very tough decisions must be made.
All decisions come with a “sacrifice.” Let’s look at some examples. Marriage requires many decisions and sacrifices living with another person. Becoming a parent, well new parents have to find a new normal in order to survive. Advancement to a higher position in any company comes with the weight of added decision responsibility and the sacrifice of one’s time with other important people and activities in our private lives. We could discuss many other examples here. Think back when you made a life change, small or large, what were the trade-offs you made?
When a person has been in the market place for decades, the challenges grow exponentially. Here’s what I mean by that statement: let’s say you are a rising “high potential” in your swim lane, now you must acquire advanced skills, and have different tools in order to rise in the ranks of your company. Where do you find them? Who has the knowledge you need to point you in the right direction? Think about all the ambitious individuals who climb an imposing peak such as Everest; the initial climb starts, then the climber must adjust at a base camp, then there are predetermined points up the mountain where the goal is daily. Each point each day requires acclimation at that elevation, the same is true in business. Once the peak is conquered and the climbers are standing on the top, how long can they remain at that altitude? Not long right? When we reach the pinnacle of our own Everest whatever that may be, it is impossible to remain there. Why? Everything begins to decay once it is attained. If you look behind you, there are other climbers right on your heels. So how can you not decay and set your sights on another peak?
In order to go to the next level, you must have a “Growth Plan” in place. I recently read that over 80% of top executives have “NO” plan of growth whatsoever. That is astonishing to me and it should be to you too. Our business world is in mock speed change 24-7-365 and we have no ability to keep up with change at that speed. We as humans were not designed to be a machine. However, what we can do is to examine the trends and direction of the change and formulate a growth plan that gets us on the path to intercept the changes in our future. What does this mean? Every level, every position in any company comes with certain minimum requirements for securing that next position. It is foolish to think that what got you here, will keep you here, because every new point on your ascension requires new skills. Even a Vice President, Executive Vice President, a CEO, or a Chairman of the Board, must keep learning and growing or they will miss the wave and the trends in the marketplace and will their own workforce. Millennial’s learn and work entirely different that boomers or Gen Y workers. The vocabulary is different, their personal goals take precedence over work for millennials, and so on. If you look at this to total, it is overwhelming to most H. R. departments.
Where do you start with a growth program? That is a great question, because it shows you know you need to fill in the gaps in your own knowledge and skill base.
The first thing to do is two-fold: one – open your calendar, and two – open a new document [on old-school use paper] and list the items you currently see as gaps.
Second, look at the “White Space” in your weekly calendar. If you are booked every minute of the day, that is your first “RED FLAG” and this needs to be address first.
Third, every day there should be time carved out to; read something spiritual, read a magazine or articles on your swim lane, take a walk outside in the fresh air – yes, even if you live in a place where that may be hard [what this does is replace your depleted Vitamin D3 which you can get from Sunshine].
Fourth, have two designated times when to do look at and respond to your email. Here’s the thing with email, think about it, email is someone elses agenda. Unless it is customer service related, or new business coming in, email is not your top priority. As a business coach client’s and I discuss this monster all the time. When I ask them to open up their email and go through the top 20 99% of the time it someone wanting something from the client that does not move the ball forward on their goals for the day, the week, nor the quarter, so it is easy to see what is wasting your precious time.
Fifth – What are you daily goals? What are your goals for this week? What are your targets for the quarter? There is a current wave of thinking that goals are dead. Well call them what you will, what are your top focusing items for today, for the week, for the quarter. A full 80% of your time should be spent on these. The other 20% should be spent on actually thinking about new things, not putting out fires in your swim lane.
There is much more on this topic we could discuss, but for today, this is enough food for thought.
If you find yourself in a conundrum and want to talk to someone, email me and let’s see what we can accomplish together. You may email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org