Trainers: Take Ownership of Your Development!

learning professionals are like cobblers children who have no shoes

Not long ago, I made the statement that sometimes learning professionals are so busy developing others in their organizations, that they often neglect their own development. Then I made a comparison to the old saying, “the cobbler’s children who have no shoes.”  I mentioned this to my friend Brian over at Train Like a Champion, and we had a nice discussion about it. In fact, he wrote this terrific post on the subject. His post got me thinking more about the truth to this topic.

Many of us do neglect our own growth and development for the sake of developing others.

Sure, ’tis a noble thing – that we should be so dedicated to our craft that we forego our own development to focus on the needs of others. But let’s not allow our dedication to prevent or hinder our ability or desire to sharpen our own skills.

If you checked out the link above (you did, didn’t you?), you discovered (or were reminded of) 18 places to look for professional development. Now that we have some great inspiration to look at, let’s consider WHY you should be checking those resources out. Here are 4 reasons:

1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

It’s easy to get into a rut routine at your day job. We get comfortable, creating training experiences that work because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” There are other ideas out there, many of which you may have never considered. By connecting to like-minded professionals, reading industry resources and exploring your craft, you may discover new, progressive methods to reach your learners and achieve your goals.

2. Our profession is constantly evolving.

It’s a big world out there, learning professional. There are countless tech tools and resources that can make your job easier and engage learners. Stay in the loop. It’s an exciting time for our industry – leverage industry trends and showcase your expertise to partner with business leaders – make learning come alive in your organization!

3. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Well, sure…part of it is what you know. But your Personal Learning Network should be an extension of your own knowledge and experience. Whether it’s through blogs you follow (like this one – thank you!), professionals you follow on Twitter or LinkedIn, or even through industry associations like ATD (formerly ASTD) or SHRM, there are a wealth of passionate industry thought leaders (in all areas of our field) out there who want to connect with you, are willing to share resources and expertise and, through the wonder of technology, are at your fingertips 24/7/365.

4. You can’t effectively develop others if you’re ignoring your own development needs.

Every time I’m on a flight, I mentally wrestle with the pre-flight safety spiel. When I’m told, “In the event of a loss of oxygen, masks will fall. Put on your mask first, then assist others around you,” I struggle at the thought of putting on my own mask before helping my kids, or maybe an elderly passenger seated next to me. But I see how it makes sense – how can you effectively help others, if you don’t have the capacity yourself? The same goes for professional development. If you invest in your own development, you will be in a better state to influence learning in your organization. And isn’t that what we want to achieve? To influence learning in our organizations?

Bottom line: Take ownership of your professional development. Don’t wait for others to provide development opportunities for you.

Your turn: Where do you turn for professional development? How do you sharpen your skills? How has “owning” your development helped you influence learning in your organization? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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