professional developmentProfessional development has always been seen as going back to school, taking XYZ prestigious course, or getting a graduate degree.

But that’s not what it has to be today.

With the advent of online courses, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve ourselves everyday and to invest in our professional development from the comfort of our home.

Lifelong learning is a must for me. I love learning.

Today I want to share with you why I decided to take an American English pronunciation course.

More Than a Hobby

I’ve always been in love with the American English language.

Even when I was a little girl watching Tom and Jerry cartoons, I always watched them in English.

Though I was very little, I loved the words and the sounds.

As years went by, my passion for the language increased.

You can blame it on the fact that I was born and raised in a communist East European country and wanted more than I had access to.

As I grew up and went to high school and then college, I did not forget about it.

Because I did not have access to learn English in high school thanks to the ancient education system, I drove my parents crazy until they agreed to send me to private lessons.

Once a week for four years, I was in heaven.

If you ask me what memory I hold most dear from high school, I will tell you in a heartbeat, it is my English classes.

I was super lucky to find teachers who loved American English, but taught me the differences between American English and British English.

They inspired and transmitted their passion for English to me.

Today, a gazillion years later, I have decided to take an American English pronunciation course for many reasons, but mainly because I want to challenge myself.

You might think it’s easy.

After all I speak and read in English all day long, even if it’s not my first language.

But it’s not.

I was telling Gini Dietrich the other day that the thing I found most difficult to do is to unlearn things.

As Master Yoda put it,

“You must unlearn what you have learned.”

Think about it for a minute.

When you try to do something you’ve done hundreds of times before, do you stop to think about it or you just do it?

When we learn something until it becomes a second nature, we actually create a habit.

If you haven’t read The Power of Habit, do it.

It will change how you see and do everything in your professional and personal life.

Unlearning things and doing them in a new way opens up an entire world of opportunities for yourself.

You’ll expand that exercise to everything you do.

Soon you’ll be more creative than ever.

But, and there is a big but, the road to mastery in professional development is full of hard, conscious work and effort.

Yet, it’s the best way to challenge yourself.

Professional Development: How to Challenge Yourself

Have you noticed when a new colleague joins your team, they share all kind of ideas and you catch yourself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that? It’s so obvious.”

Or, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The reason you did not think of it is simply because of habit.

The habit of thinking and looking at things in the same old, known way.

Because that’s how things have always been done and that’s how you learned them.

If you want to be like the new colleague, challenge yourself to see things differently, challenge yourself to unlearn what you know and look at things in a new way.

It’s a great exercise and once you do it once, you become addicted to it.

It’s frustrating at first, but it can also be fun.

The best thing about it is you grow in the process.

Soon you’ll find yourself stretching your self-imposed limits and accomplish more and more.

Re-acquaint with What You Love

Have you found yourself trying to remember a good book you read years ago and learned you can only remember a couple of ideas from it?

Did you ask yourself how was that possible?

You loved the book, movie, fill in the blanks. It inspired you so much and yet you don’t remember much of it.

The same happened to me every time I wanted to remember how to correctly pronounce a particular word in English.

I knew I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on what that was.

Enter an American English pronunciation course.

As soon as I started the course, I knew what I was missing.

It was more than knowing how to pronounce one word or another.

It was about the pleasure of learning, of re-acquainting myself with this language I so much love.

Now I look forward to my daily training.

Not only that, but I cannot wait for our weekly meetings here at Spin Sucks to test what I learned.

Better….what I have relearned.

Start reading that book that inspired you to take the path you took.

Reconnect with that person who was an inspiration for you growing up.

Reach out to your mentors in your early career days.

You’ll not only relive the joy from those early days, you’ll remember your passion and drive.

And a funny thing will happen you’ll become more creative in your work and areas you never thought of.

Your professional development will skyrocket.

It’s All About the Journey

I did not learn English in my first class and pretty sure I did not do it in the second or third one.

However I vividly remember the thrill of learning something new every week, the thrill of doing my homework correctly.

When I look at the notes in my notebook (yes, I kept them all), I remember my teacher explaining a particular lesson.

I loved learning from people who inspired me.

In those days I was also learning French with the same teacher, most of the times after the English class.

I liked the French language, but I never loved it the way I do English.

With English every new class was an adventure. I could hardly wait for it.

When you find what you love whether it’s for your career, hobby, or different tasks in your  business, you become so focused on it, time ceases to exist.

You’re in the flow.

It’s not about the end result anymore, it’s about the journey.

We often forget life is a journey not a destination.

Same applies to your professional development.

Learning new things, re-learning old things in new ways, experiencing, and constantly challenging ourselves to become better is how we grow and become better versions of ourselves at work and as human beings.

Now the floor is yours: How do you challenge yourself?

Corina Manea

Corina Manea is the chief community officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She works directly with Spin Sucks students and writes for the award-winning PR blog. She also is the founder of NutsPR. Join the Spin Sucks  community!

View all posts by Corina Manea