February 25, 2013

Career Development

It's too bad that most of us only evaluate our professional development when updating a resume during a job search. At those times, we invest tons of time thinking of clever descriptors, transferable skill sets and personal goals, but rarely do we do so on a day-to-day basis. Yet, it is the daily grind of work where we spend 80% of our waking life! On any given day, I spend more time assessing the efficacy of my deodorant than cultivating the qualities I need to succeed in my current position and beyond. Instead, I punch the virtual clock, scramble from one "emergency" to the next (NB: these are not true emergencies, but a complicated system of smoke and mirrors that makes it seem so) and lie awake at night formulating mental checklists for the next day. What a better employee I would be if I devoted some of the mad dash to practicing the habits and characteristics that would better serve my employer and my own career development!

Here are a few virtues that come to mind when I think of constructive redevelopment:

- Identify the root of problems: those unproductive patterns and trends that reoccur in the workplace. How many times have I smoothed over the results of a larger, more difficult challenge lying in wait? More importantly, how many times have I been an enabler to the problem itself?

- Build empathy skills. It is so easy to write someone off if they speak, think or react to a situation differently that I would. It's a rare thing to admit that my way of dealing with something is not the best way to deal with it.

- Seek complementary personalities. I spend a lot of time negotiating with troublesome personalities, a skill that I actually take some pride in. However, it's not all about dealing with difficult people. Do I actively seek out coworkers and colleagues that bring out the best in me?

These are just a few dimensions that I would love to brag about in a performance evaluation or interview. This week I'll be looking for ways to beef-up those personal qualities that better serve myself and others in the workplace. I have an inkling that all have some bearing on creating Sanity with a Side of Paycheck.

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