Laura Petrolino

The Six Criteria Necessary for Professional Growth

By: Laura Petrolino | January 30, 2017 | 

Why are These Six Criteria Necessary for Professional GrowthToday is MY BIRTHDAY.

Birthday, birthday, today is my birthday!

I was going to just type that over and over 300 times, add in some birthday GIFs and call it a day.

But alas….I’m going to write about professional growth.

Because isn’t that what birthdays are all about anyway?

An annual celebration of your personal and professional growth?

(And a chance to demand ALL the attention and not have to explain yourself.)

Choosing Professional Growth

I tend to become very reflective around MY BIRTHDAY (did I mention my birthday is today?).

So I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last several weeks, thinking about who I am as a human, both professionally and personally—as well as what I’m happy with and what I want to change.

I do this every year and it consists of me asking myself a lot of questions around the influence I have in the world.

  • How do I affect the people, places, and events important to me?
  • How can I do more to make a difference?

While I ask these questions of myself on an on-going basis throughout the year, I spend more time, and am a bit more critical, around my birthday.

  • Did I accomplish what I had wanted to accomplish?
  • Did I spend each day with intention?

How do I want to spend the next year? What do I want to accomplish?

The Struggle is What Makes it Worthwhile

I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in life and forget that we make important choices every day.

Choices that open us up or shut us down to the opportunity to be better and do more.

My goal is that the majority of my choices stimulate and nurture personal and professional growth.

This isn’t always comfortable, in fact most of the time it isn’t because it pushes your limits and requires a change in behavior, which takes concentrated intention.

But the struggle is the entire point. It’s what makes it fun and build you into the person you are.

In fact, I think one of the primary reasons many people suffer from low self-confidence is because they don’t often push themselves way beyond the point of comfort, and then come out the other side knowing they survived.

That’s important.

The Process of Professional Growth

The “growth” part of personal and professional growth indicates it’s not an end-goal, it’s a process.

But in that, it’s a process that requires certain criteria to keep it afloat.

My completely non-researched and biased opinion reports that these are the most important elements the process of personal and professional development must include:

  1. The understanding you can always get better. And rather than being humbling, I see this as a super exciting understanding. You have the capacity to constantly evolve and improve. The only endpoint is one you set yourself.
  2. The acceptance you will fail, a lot. Failure is something I think about a lot and have written a failure survival guide here.
  3. An environment that supports the direction of your growth. Often we underestimate the power the environment we place ourselves in controls what we see, how we think, what we know, and our entire perception of ourselves, the world, and ourselves in the world. You can’t control everything in your environment, but you can control a good portion of it. Surround yourself with a personal and professional community who facilitate your growth vs. blocks it. Think carefully when you make those choices, since they will influence your path in every way.
  4. Intention. Growth is fueled by intention. If you aren’t intentional about it, you’ll simply be stagnant.
  5. A really great sense of humor. Because growth is awkward and challenging. And you’ll stumble, and get angry, and dance around your house singing loudly to that one special playlist you have just for times like this. You really might as well have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself and others.
  6. Stubborn openness. Hahahaha! Even as I write that I know how ridiculous it sounds, but trust me, it’s a thing (a thing I just made up, but a thing still). I’ve mentioned previously how my stubborn nature is one of my most useful skills. I’m not extraordinarily talented at anything, but I’m too stubborn to not achieve what I want. I’ll keep grinding away, until I get there, out of mere stubborn will. That said, you can’t be blind in your stubborn drive, you must be open to the path your journey of growth takes you down. Some of the best things that have ever happened to me in life resulted because things didn’t go as I had planned, but I went with it, and it worked.

Not only should you work to make sure these are present in your own life, but, as a leader, you should help provide and facilitate them for your team.

Happy Birthday to My Professional Growth

Ok, so let’s focus this post back to what’s most important—ME, and my birthday.

Woohoooo!!! Please think about your professional growth as you celebrate this great day!

(Note from Gini: Well, I was going to be super nice and include a note here to have you wish Laura a happy birthday, but I see I don’t need to do that. Carry on.)

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAYYYYYYY!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

  • Karen Wilson

    I totally agree with your six criteria. I think the two absolutely most important are the environment and intention. If you want to grow, you have to start, even if you don’t have support. Having the environment can also kickstart the intention. But when you have both? The sky’s the limit!
    Also, I’m ridiculously amused. Happy, happy birthday, Laura!

    • Yes, totally agree. When all the ingredients are in place, there’s no stopping you. That sweet spot, personally and professionally is a very rare and wonderful place to be. It’s challenging, but exciting.

  • Bill Dorman

    It’s your birthday?

    I want to be like you when I grow up; is that a good enough personal and professional goal?

    I believe everything you say and as I approach the back end of my career I’m finding myself gravitating more toward fun than hard work; of course, some my say that’s always been my MO so I’ll just remain silent.

    Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if I could have done more and the answer is ‘absolutely,’ but I also think I don’t need to be too hard on myself because it’s still good to be me, right? How old was Colonel Sanders when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken; I still have time, huh?

    Oh wait, it’s your birthday; for some reason I thought this was all about me…go figure….:). You da best, hope you have a great day today even though @GiniDietrich is making you work; enjoy.

    • Aspiring to be like me is absolutely a good enough personal and professional goal!!

      It’s interesting you say that, about your career reflections I had a conversation with my parents this weekend along those same lines. And I also think there is so much we do on a daily basis that does have a significant influence on the world and the people around us, but we don’t really appreciate it.

      But most of all, thanks for making a cameo on my birthday blog. It means a lot to me!!!

  • Happy Birthday!! 🛍🎂🎈🎉🎊🎁

  • Pete Salmon

    Why is your birthday mentioned on every platform and app used at AD/Spin Sucks? Because you are great.

    Professional Growth–When you fail, look at your part in the failure before you even dare look beyond yourself.

    • I am great!!! And a spoiled brat!

      And yes, that’s a great quotable!

  • I hope that you got some skeeball in on your special day. Am I allowed to go into Chuck E. Cheese w/o a kid? I live across the street from one and could so play a few rounds. Cheers LP!

    • Oh you definitely are allowed to go into Chunk E. Cheese without a kid. I do it all the time!! Please go play a round in my honor!

      • I shall have to do that over the weekend (volunteering and such during the week).

  • Anne Morgan

    Happy birthday Laura, lovely post!
    Like Bill, I’m approaching the back end of my career and am having lots more fun with some time built in for reflection.
    Surrounding yourself with a positive community makes a huge difference as does striving to make a positive contribution.
    Thank you for taking the time on your birthday to share such valuable insights!

    • Yes, I think we often don’t take the time to appreciate the contribution we make in little ways, and how important it is. I’m guilt of this, and it can leave me feeling overwhelmed, because I can’t clearly pinpoint my influence on the world. This year I’m really focused on acknowledging where I do and can make a difference and making time to maximize it.