Invest in Yourself: 5 Things Every Professional Should Do to Develop Themselves

Expanding your knowledge, developing your skills, and broadening your network is a gift that keeps on giving. It improves your job performance, which leads to other good things like plum assignments, new opportunities, and career growth.

Yet in spite of a host of good reasons to invest in ourselves, we can lose sight of actually taking tangible actions.

Today, the stakes are higher. When the best jobs 15 years from now don’t even exist today, when the amount of technical information doubles every two years, when employers are hiring, more and more – for capability rather than competency – it is our duty to own our personal learning, growth and development with focus and intention.

Learn about how capability is now a critical employment criteria, and the five things every professional should do to develop themselves, starting today.

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Demystifying Strategic Planning Steps

It’s that time of the year. Perhaps not the “most wonderful time of the year”, but the time of the year that businesses and nonprofits alike go through the process of strategic planning and goal alignment. The notion is this: direction gets set at the top, then is cascaded down the organization through a goal alignment and setting process.

Today, I’m not going to quibble with the process. I’m going to attempt to demystify the language, as I observe much head scratching (and some of it’s my own) when asked to participate in the process. What is an objective? How does it differ from a goal? Should I have a mission? A vision? And when someone tells me I should be more strategic, what do they mean?

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The Basic Principles of Leadership

Long ago, in a factory in a mid-west town, a young woman was chosen to lead. The factory was filled with large and heavy equipment, hummed with activity both day and night and was filled with craftsmen skilled at their trade.

For weeks, this new leader went off to class where she learned how to have performance discussions, how to resolve problems, and how to find ways to improve situations.

Yet the biggest lesson, by far, was that there were some guiding principles to leading that she could apply, no matter the situation. In fact, they were called the basic principles, and each and every lesson was grounded in approaching all situations with them.

As you might guess, I was that young woman. I realize now, many years later, how ingrained these basic principles are in how I approach work, leadership, and the world.

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When 2 Minus 1 Equals 4: The Paradox of Giving and Receiving

Yesterday I went to yoga class, toting my brand new mat. It was soft and spongy. It was teal, one of my favorite colors. It was a gift from my son, Brad, which made me think of him throughout practice.

In a physical sense, Brad was out a few bucks as the giver, and I gained a material possession. He had less, in a physical sense, and I had more. He lost; I gained.

On a far more profound level, we are both richer. I am touched that he knew me well enough to pick a great gift. Every time I roll out this mat, I’ll be reminded of him, his sense of humor, and our mutual love. The mat becomes something more – an expression of something without shape or form, but profound.

I can’t speak for how Brad feels as the giver; yet reflecting on this simple interchange, I recalled the numerous times that I was much richer for the giving.

Learn more about the premise that giving enriches both the giver and the receiver, and how to reframe common business mindsets.

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My Top Reads for 2016

Those of you who know me, know that Amazon makes regular deliveries to my door, and that I always have my “nose in a book”. 2016 was no different. I’ve culled my bookshelves – and here are my top reads for 2016.

Warning: I am a quirky and eclectic reader. Mostly non-fiction, although an occasional non-fiction book captures my fancy. I do deep dives on the books that call to me – and have a stack of others that failed to.

So here is the 2016 list of my “deep dives”. And I’m always on the hunt for more good reads – so please share yours!

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Holiday Wishes from Evergreen Leadership

In this special season I urge you to remember that the holiday hype is only that; there are no perfect trees, presents, parties or families. Yet in the leaning tree, the present you have no idea what to do with, and the people you love in spite of their quirkiness, remind yourself that you are surrounded by small miracles.

Read more of my brief holiday wish for you on my blog.

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Life Does Not Have a Rubric

I was raised in an era when we were told there was a rubric to life. Go the right school. Marry the right person. Find the right company. Buy a house, have two kids, save for retirement, and all will be well with the world.

The problem is this: life is far messier and complex and quirky that that. Marriages fail. Perfect jobs end without notice. Kids are not a fast track to fulfillment and joy. You find after a few years that the well-paying job, while in demand, leaves you numb and empty at the end of every work day.

So here is the big secret: Life does NOT have a rubric.

There is, however, some timeless wisdom that if applied diligently and over time, will greatly increase your chance of living your best life. Continuing reading to learn this wisdom.

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How to Say No and Do More of What’s Important to You

Common wisdom advises us to “ask a busy person” when you have something that needs done. I’m not sure if this is because busy people have a way to get organized and just get things done or if it is because really busy people have not mastered the art of saying no.

Either way, as a busy person, I find myself asked to take on a variety of roles, tasks, and causes. More often than not, I say yes.

At times the yes serves me well. I do good work, enjoy the work I do, and meet amazing people. And at other times, the yes undermines my focus, well-being, and energy.

So, when the need arose to teach a group how to “say no gracefully” – I said YES! Because like usual, I knew that by teaching, I might learn. And indeed, that is the case.

Let me share some of the highlights of the retreat workshop and a few of the techniques, for I suspect I am not the only one who says yes too often.

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Gratitude: Food for the Soul

In the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving this week. It is the one holiday that is focused on gratitude, abundance, and honoring and sharing the good things in our lives.

Personally, I’m an advocate for expressing gratitude 100% of our days and not only .03% of the time.

Take five minutes to read this pre-Thanksgiving article about both the scientific benefits of gratitude and how practicing gratitude has impacted my life. You just might learn something that will leave you feeling full long beyond the holiday.

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3 Leadership Advantages of “Not Knowing”

As a leader or someone in a professional occupation, publicly (or even personally) admitting you don’t know something can feel shameful. Publicly admitting “not knowing” is an act of extreme vulnerability that gives up the pretense that we are all knowing.

That’s what we think many times. In truth, it is that act of vulnerability that opens us up for greater connection, learning, and possibility.

Read about three ways that “not knowing” can give you a leadership advantage.

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