Earlier this week, I did a Facebook like on professional development. If you missed it, you can see it here. By the way, if you aren't a part of my Facebook Community where the conversation and sharing are very real, click here to visit and like the page. I spoke about the criticality of investing in oneself. As an entrepreneur, I did what companies sometimes do. And that is . . . minimized the value of the company's training budget. The message sent to employees when that happens is that they're not worth the investment. It took me 3 years in business to figure out I was skimping on my training investment dollars. Once the veil was listed, I vowed to no longer make that mistake again.
And that is what I want to encourage you all to do. It doesn't matter if you aren't an entrepreneur or if your company is saying "we just don't have the training dollars to send you to that conference". You are beautifully resourceful and the message you must send back to your brain is that you're worth the investment. In the days of talent wars and a plethora of people unemployed, you must invest in keeping your capabilities sharp and ready for unplanned changes. To be competitive, I as an entrepreneur must invest where I see gaps and opportunities for me to flourish.
I want you to do the same. Here are some tips that I mentioned to get you the training you need.
Honesty is the best policy
First, I want you to do your very own state of the union and honest to goodness talk with yourself. The questions you want to answer are what are you doing well and what do you need help on. If you don't know the answer to those questions, ask a trusted source for some input. You could even look at your LinkedIn endorsed skills to gain some insights from where others see you.
Hold up the Magnifying Glass
Second, once you know where your gaps or opportunities (I am not a fan of the word weaknesses) are, make a list and identify sources where you can build up that area. Is it internal or external training that's needed? Is it a mentor or sponsorship support that's needed? Is it something you can learn by leveraging books, audio, online courses. Conferences/Classes are great because they get you out of your comfort zone. You basically saying I need some help and that's why I'm here and it's great because others are there for the same reason. When I went to the National Speaker's Association Brand Lab a few months ago, I was nervous to share my website. I knew it needed work but it felt like one of my children because I created it myself. The point is that I took the leap to uncover additional learning to help me achieve my goals and I'm guessing you too are in favor of growth or you wouldn't still be reading this.
Being Resourceful is the Name of the Game
Third, it's not always about the dollars. Being resourceful is a skill. I recently spent my training dollars to get to the Women Business Enterprise Conference in Detroit. I did this because I believed in myself and that it was an important opportunity for additional growth. I would do the same thing if I was working for someone else. If I believed passionately about a training, I would invest my own dollars to attend. I'm about to digress for a moment. I desperately wanted to attend the Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania when I was in Corporate America. I asked for it to be funded by my company and they said NO there was no visible ROI for the company for this investment. I still wanted to go so I spoke to a Vice President about getting the time off to attend. This was because I needed work time off during the course to attend over a period of time. I was willing to take vacation days and pay for the program myself. I fought to get this approved. To me, it was a no-brainer but there was actually push back. Nonetheless, I pressed and was successful. In the end, I didn't get into the program but I shared the story to say you are in control of your destiny and YOU my friends need to know who you are and what you need to succeed. So back to Detroit, I paid because I believe I'm worth it. On my first day at the conference, I ran into a Mastermind Colleague at the conference and she was wearing a green volunteer shirt. Note to self and others: volunteering is another way to get you the training you need. It's a win-win situation.
The bottom line is that when we put our thinking caps on and get creative,we can find the professional development dollars to boost our skills because we are worth it.
As always, I love hearing your feedback. Please let me know how you invest in yourself to ensure you're taking care of your opportunity areas.