If you have taken the time to read the last two posts this week, you will now know that the key to giving feedback is to be specific, and the key to receiving feedback is to learn from it. The application here is that in order to excel in your field, you have to know how to grow and how to improve your skills. There are multiple ways to do that.
Expensive Trainings Rarely help you Grow as a Professional
A lot of people opt to pay for expensive training programs. They fly somewhere to listen to a speaker that has dedicated his or her career to professional development. They take copious notes, learn buzzwords, and try to go back and apply them to their career. A vast majority of the time, nothing ever happens.
The reason is that blanket trainings rarely ever work. Just like almost all blanket advice, it has to be dumbed down to the lowest denominator in order to appeal to the largest market. Sure it sounds good when sitting there in a conference room, but it has no application to YOUR job.
Practice Makes Perfect
This is one of the biggest fallacies out there. You hear it all of the time in sports, you know people that just keep trying until they get it right. But it’s not true. Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. If you learn something the wrong way, and you continue to do it the wrong way, it will eventually become the way you do things. Can you change it later? Sure, but it takes on average 66 days to form or break a habit. Do you want to make a habit for 66 days, break it over the next 66 days, and reform a better habit the subsequent 66 days? You just lost out on 6 months of your life. Practice the right way from the beginning, and you will find a permanent and perfect solution.
Seek Feedback from Mentors
The first time I noticed this was while skiing in high school. I excelled at my skiing abilities and quickly surpassed many of my peers. However, I hit a plateau because I stopped skiing with people better than I was. I couldn’t copy new technique, and I couldn’t get any advice. The only way to grow your skills is to associate with those who are better than you.
What that means in the professional setting is to watch, emulate, and seek feedback from, those who are older and wiser than you. This is especially important when you are new to the job. You must make a good impression, and you have to set those good habits early. Bad habits at the beginning of your career can cost you years and thousands of dollars in lost promotions.
Keep in mind that “older and wiser” does not mean they give feedback well. In fact, they probably are busy and won’t give you the feedback you want. You have to interpret it, read between the lines, and learn from it on your own.
There are too many people that want things handed to them with minimal effort on their part. It is not laziness, nor is it a personality trait, but rather it is a byproduct of the way we were socialized. All through our educational careers we were handed information. In college there was some self study, but the bulk of the knowledge came from lectures. It’s not until graduate school, which most people do not attend, that learning on your own actually happens.
If you want to excel and surpass your peers, you have to study on your own. You cannot wait until company trainings or other organized educational opportunities. You have to read everything about your industry that you can find. You have to spend your evenings researching competition. You need to know the ins and outs of the history of your industry as well as where it is going. Having the knowledge is the only way to get a leg up in your industry (aside from dumb luck).
Grow as a Professional
As a writer in Billings, Montana, the way that I grow is that I write. I was trained throughout school how to write and deliver a clear message, now I practice what I have been trained. The result is that people want to pay me to help boost their business. Keep in mind that I still seek feedback constantly and I am constantly honing my writing skills.
Where do you seek feedback, and how do you grow as a professional?