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.)

Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

View all posts by Laura Petrolino