You Don’t Know Everything: The Importance of Professional Development



The dreaded alarm starts buzzing; it’s Monday. The beginning of a new week should feel energizing, but, in reality, the prospect of working five consecutive days can be exhausting… mundane… uninspiring.

How can you stay interested and interesting?

As a former teacher, I always looked forward to professional development days. They provided a break from the usual routine where I could connect with other teachers and focus on one thing at a time. Let’s be honest, I also enjoyed eating my lunch outside of the copy room! Most times, I walked back into my classroom re-energized with new strategies to tackle a challenging problem or engage a struggling student. That’s the thing with professional development, it can break up the monotony of a typical day by providing space to create or deepen relationships and become more competent at your job. But, professional development is not limited to a formal environment like a presentation, seminar or conference. It can also be very informal, which is good news for those who are self-employed. In fact, you may have already engaged in a form of professional development today and not even have known it! TED talks, podcasts, and YouTube videos can also serve as professional development. Rita Pierson will always re-inspire me to be a champion for children- even on a Monday morning!

What or who inspires you to be a lifelong learner?

My dad always said, “Readers are leaders.” Now as an adult, I understand what he meant. The greatest leaders are usually avid readers, who fervently consume the most influential books and absorb knowledge, whether it be relevant to their job or not! Acquiring knowledge and understanding through reading can benefit you both professionally and personally. If you fall asleep within 2 minutes of cracking a book open, like me, don’t worry! Audio books are an efficient way to read when you don’t have the energy or time. My husband spends car rides to and from work devouring topics including his career field, finances, self-help, exercise, and anything that interests him that day.

Are you satisfied with your job?

It has been found that 40% of employees who don’t receive the necessary job training will leave their positions within the first year. Professional development is associated with high job satisfaction. Highly satisfied employees will stay at their job longer. Research shows that the cost of losing an employee in the first year can reach nearly three times their salary. Professional development literally pays off! And the benefits include helping employers and employees (you) thrive. Professional development creates competency in your work. Competency promotes confidence, and confidence promotes pride in your work. A productive staff means a better work environment and happier customers, clients, students, or patients.

Why should I participate in professional development?

Today more than ever, society is changing rapidly. Many factors contribute to this reality. Professional development helps to keep your finger on the pulse of the community. When you can better anticipate the needs of those around you, you can adapt to provide solutions for your clientele. Access to research driven data and evidence-based practice will keep your skill set fresh and inform your decision-making at work.

Professional development creates networking opportunities for employees, employers, business owners, and entrepreneurs. In many cases, opportunities for professional development connect individuals together in ways they wouldn’t be connected otherwise. Connecting with others is a powerful way to learn from one another, troubleshoot common problems, and develop partnerships. In this case, everyone benefits!

Professional development opens the door to leadership. It provides a platform for you to shine- maybe a promotion is awaiting you! Most of us want to be excellent in our professional endeavors. A large part of our success is tied to our personal initiative. When I take ownership over my professional development, I am enacting initiative in my own success. This drive not only makes me more competent in my career-field, but also opens the door for leadership opportunities, financial abundance, and personal satisfaction.

Personal and professional development can often go hand-in-hand. When I am at my best, I am not feeling burnt out at work or at home. I am confident in my ability to meet the demands of my job and cope with challenges that may arise. I am aligned to the mission and vision of my organization and motivated to reach its goals and objectives. Rather than wondering what we will gain from professional development, consider what we may lose by not participating. After all, we don’t know everything.

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