Learning and Growing in 2020

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learning and growing

Here we are at the start of a new decade.  When you think about the last year, and decade, what can you look back on? reflect on? appreciate? Or, aim to improve? As you may remember from my previous blog posts, in 2019 I challenged myself to be publicly accountable for my own personal development. With January in full swing, it feels like a good time to provide an update for you all.

Meeting my mentor

Towards the end of last year, I met with the wonderful woman I wanted to talk to about professional development. The first thing I noted when she arrived mildly late, was that rather than saying “sorry I’m late” she shook my hand and said “thank you for your patience”.

Straight away, we were on a positive note. She was calm, authoritative and supportive—all within a few moments. I chose this fierce woman as a role model because of her drive, her success, her approachable demeanour and the overall way people respect her, and she respects them. When I asked her why she agreed to meet with me, she told me about the people who had helped her along the way, and how she was more than happy to impart her knowledge to someone who is eager to learn.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we sat down. I had planned some questions to ensure I wasn’t wasting her time, and so I started by telling her a little about myself and then asked my prepared questions along the lines of “what are a few pieces of advice you would swear by?”

As I listened to her answering my questions, I found that I was receiving internal confirmation for things I already knew, but had been afraid to face up to. My mentor advised me to be brave. She told me to push the boundaries, but gave me strict rules to refine what it is I want from life and my career, so I can make more impactful decisions for my future.

Five key ideas

It was an insightful, productive and interesting meeting to say the least. The five key messages that I took away from our meeting were:

  1. Make time to read Tara Mohr’s book – Playing Big. Practical Wisdom for Women who want to Speak Up, Create and Lead
  2. Identify my strengths and weaknesses. Then, use these to create a personal growth plan for the year.
  3. Create and know my personal brand
  4. Get involved with like-minded people
  5. Make sure your personal values align with your professional values.

What I did next

Now, let me tell you how I took action following this pivotal meeting.

I found the book Playing Big to be a game changer, in much the same way that Mel Robbin’s The 5 Second Rule was for me earlier last year. I admit I was initially sceptical about Playing Big.  Then I got through the first chapter, and many of the topics discussed by Tara hit home. The largest impact came from realising that my biggest critic and barrier was, and sometimes still is, myself. I ‘play small’, and allow fear to dictate what I am willing to try. Can any of you relate?

Finding my strengths

I am still working on uncovering my strengths. Probably like many people, it’s been easier to identify weaknesses, and I  am actively working on these. As for my personal brand, I am yet to develop this, as it’s something I am very unsure of.

Being involved with likeminded people has been a challenge, however I have plans in place to make this a success point for myself. I will let their passions fuel my own passions. In the process of finding out who you are and what you stand for you should always be learning, growing, giving and taking.

Living my values

One thing I have had in action since our yearly Madison conference is the use of my values. My top five are Love, Integrity, Growth, Trust and Strength. I now understand what drives me, and what lights my soul on fire and gives me true satisfaction. The career I am in, and the relationships around me all benefit from my values system. Knowing my values helps me educate myself and those around me as to what is important. For example, it is important to me that people feel they can trust me, and that I will carry out all tasks with as much integrity as possible.

As discussed in my previous blog, I have moved past looking at others, comparing, and thinking how do I get to where they are. Though that was useful for a while, I’ve shifted to using my internal locus of control and asking myself ‘What do I want? What am I willing to do to make it happen?’

When things don’t go as expected

To put this into perspective, 2019 did not go to plan. I am facing health issues that are making each and everything I do even more challenging than before. Some of the positive steps I had taken have had to be revoked, such as resigning from my treasured volunteer role, and postponing some of the plans I had made.

What I have done in lieu of this, is to find things I CAN do. I have decided to go back to university part-time to finish my post graduate study. I have reached out to a training programme that will help me better understand business mechanisms and managements, and I have taken important steps to care for my physical and mental wellbeing.

Your attitude matters

Something I have begun to realise over the past weeks is that negativity and gratitude cannot co-exist. If you choose to be grateful, if you choose to see the good, to think positively you are forcing out the bad and welcoming the good.

Confidence is catching

During our annual Madison conference, I told everyone about the Mel Robbin’s 5 second rule, and how I was applying this to myself. Well, that lead to a member of another branch telling me at the Christmas party that my speaking was pivotal moment in her life. She has since listened to a few of the books Mel has written, and has embodied a lot of the confidence I talked about, in her own life.

Do you see what happened? My confidence gave someone else permission to gather their own confidence. These sorts of actions have a knock on effect. If you create the space and opportunity for success, you are not the only person who will benefit from it.

Next steps

So that’s my wrap of my progress so far. If I can ask you to take anything from this blog, it is understanding that if you want to, you have the ability to change yourself, your life and your work. A little self reflection and clarification can go a long way. In 2020, I will be learning and growing, what about you?