The Right Method to the Madness
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
By Gonzalo Cordova
Imagine you have been invited to a new restaurant featuring your favorite cuisine, but you are not familiar with its address. What would you do to get there? If you are like me, you will pull out your phone and search for the address. Others may decide to text a friend for directions or even call the restaurant for help. Whatever your approach, there are three fundamentals to get you to the restaurant: know where you are, know where you want to be, and the directions to go from one place to the other.
The scenario above is trivial, but I would argue it applies perfectly to the development of our professional careers. Mostly, all of us want to become a better version of our professional selves, which means we need to go from one position to another. We need to transform. The key question I ask you to consider is if you have an effective and efficient method for this transformation. I certainly did not have one when I started my career, and I continue to see this trend with the young professionals I coach and mentor.
There is a plethora of resources for young professionals on how to improve any capability, but there is a lack of resources to educate on the method of deciding which capability he or she should improve. It is as if every young professional is automatically supposed to have this figured out.
Based on the above, I would encourage you to think about the key components of an effective and efficient method to lead your professional development. The ideal method should involve an assessment of your capabilities as of today, an honest evaluation of your career goals, and an actionable path to lead you to the achievement of these goals.
Look In The Mirror
It makes sense that we need to know where we stand before improving any
capability. Many treat this exercise as a five-minute superficial task. However, I
would propose that establishing a baseline requires a deep and honest assessment
of who we are as professionals and even as persons. The right depth of
introspection should feel uncomfortable when we realize how much work we need
to do. It may even sting a little when we realize that others do not think our
capabilities are as evolved as we think they are.
It Is All About The End
A good professional development method should allow you to answer the question
of who you want to be when you grow up, professionally speaking. I have found
that focusing on your ultimate career goals provides better guidance than relying
on your short and medium-term goals. The reality is that our short and medium-
term goals change constantly, sometimes not even by choice. Think about the
impact of a sudden reorganization in your company. You may have a different job in
a matter of hours, assuming you still have a job. However, your long-term goals do
not get impacted by these changes easily, so they provide a more reliable target for
Set Your Course and Track Progress
Connecting who you are with who you want to be requires a plan that you believe in
and that you can act upon. You should wake up every morning excited about the
opportunity to explore the path you have designed for your professional
development while feeling capable of executing your plan. Equally importantly, you
should be able to measure the progress you are making toward your goals. I have
seen many young professionals establishing great professional development paths,
but they make little to no progress as they neglect to measure improvements along
the way. We become what we measure.
In a world of limited time and money to spend on our development efforts, we owe it to ourselves to make the best use of these resources. Use the thoughts above to gauge the validity of your current method to develop professionally or to confirm the need for a new one. Success depends on the right method to the madness!