Track And Assess Your Developmental Stages, Or Lose Out On Who You Can Be
Leadership Lesson: Acknowledging the separation between who you’ve been and what you’ve done in the past, and how you plan to build upon that going forward, allows you to track, assess, and strengthen your development and growth.
The dog days of summer are a distant memory. The Halloween season is upon us, with the holiday season around the corner, and the new year not too far behind.
At this point, no matter their level of education and experience, students have settled into the routines and classes of the new school year. The novelty and anxiety of the early school year has (hopefully) worn off, coinciding with a ramp-up in the work, responsibility, and accountability of their curriculum. There’s no more talk of “back-to-school” anything – those nagging and endless commercials, which had played in heavy rotation since what seemed like the end of the previous school year, are long gone. The students are now in the thick of the school year calendar.
For our part, the summer reprieve we adults had gotten from heavier traffic during our commutes is a distant memory. The shift to clogged highways is a marker of the academic calendar — kids were back in school and parents were no longer off on staggered vacations.
So, yes, we adults also experience the ripple effect of back-to-school. Whether we have kids or not, we’ve been surrounded by the school buses and have been driving past throngs of kids in backpacks everywhere for a few months now, well past having seen all the parents’ first-day-of-school pictures on social media.
It’s all such a clean, fresh start for the students. Their summer break offers a nice reset during which they can reflect, aware of where they’ve been and knowing something new awaits them. The time away separates the past from the future, accomplishments from new challenges, and pride over last year from this year’s ambition.
But never mind the kids for now. What do you get?
Where is your pause, review, and reset? How do you set different stages for yourself, looking back and then forward, to make sure you’re making progress, getting better, sharper…happier? How do you plan your growth, progress, and development?
Students have a school year providing them various forms of stages for their development, broken down into classes, projects, assignments, and homework. They learn how to track their progress from one challenge to the next – whether it be from one school year to the next or within those everyday pieces and challenges.
We have the same structure as adults, workers, and non-students. Similar stages of challenges and change for you can exist between what you cover in each of these categories:
- Time-Based Work
- Work/Business Responsibilities
Between one stage and the next in each of these categories, how do you assess how far you’ve come?
Let’s consider each of those categories so you know what to look for.
The best examples for this category — and yet maybe not the most effective – are new year’s resolutions. We all know how they go. In any given year, your goals are (1)_____, (2) _____, (3) _____, etc. You’ve set a timetable for when — and hopefully a plan for how — they’re going to happen, and you track them.
The great thing about these time-based goals, like any other goal, is that you can break them down into the long-term – a year, in the case of the new year’s resolutions – and then medium-term by breaking down the year’s goals into components to complete by month, and, finally, in the short-term, where you can break them down to days.
Breaking goals down by time in that manner allows you to chip away at what it is you want to change by working backwards from the big picture (end of year) to the medium- and short-term time frames – what you’re going to accomplish in your months and days, respectively, to get to that end-of-year finish line.
Consider and compare who you are and what you’ve accomplished at the end of each of those periods versus at their beginning, and how it prepares you for the next time-based task.
It’s important to learn from the things you’re working on, creating, and building. You can get sharper through what you’re sharing with others, with so many possibilities existing for what that might look like. Know what you can deliver!
In this example, “project” can mean an accomplishment, whether it’s a degree from a university, completing a certificate program, an actual project with a plan and deliverables, learning a song on an instrument, or taking a workshop covering your hobby, among so many other possibilities.
It’s important to see what it is you take away from the time doing the work of the project. You may not see it right away, but there can be changes, ranging from the subtle to the obvious, in who you are and how you approach things based on the work you do on a project.
Consider and compare who you are and what you’ve accomplished at the end of a project versus at the beginning, and how it prepares you for those that follow.
It’s important to consider what it is you take away from relationships, whether they’re professional or personal. Too many people forgo growing through their current and new connections. When possible, make sure you and those you know are getting the best out of each other.
Consider how it is you’ve evolved in the course of your various relationships to date. Take stock of the good you’ve gotten from your relationships – along with the bad. Yes, the “bad” should always be considered so that you can monitor your own health (in energy, resources, and…sanity) and progress when it comes to that relationship.
We typically underestimate and take for granted what relationships can do to us, whether it’s positive or negative.
Consider and compare who you are and how you’ve grown as a result of your various relationships, and what they contribute to who you are.
Work Or Business
Look for the opportunities to steadily grow from your entrepreneurial or professional track, improving upon yourself, job after job, promotion after promotion, or move after move.
There are also subsets within your work/business, based on those previous points above, upon which you can build. Build yourself in that work or business during a set time period (e.g. fiscal year), through particular projects (e.g. campaigns or presentations), and/or by building great relationships in your network.
Work can be about more than earning a paycheck or attaining promotions. Consider what it is these jobs and career points contribute to who you are overall. All the facets of your life — the different areas in which you operate, work, and live — can contribute to each other. Keep an eye open to what you’re taking in from your business or work experience.
Consider and compare who you are and what you’ve accomplished at the end of stages of work and business phases versus the beginning of each, and how it prepares you for the next position or business move.
Just like students leaving and coming back to school, advancing from one level to the next, you can consider stepping back from what you do to see where you stand and where you have yet to go.
Yes, granted, the path is more set in stone for students — their performance is monitored and curriculum disciplined. Lucky them.
Once you leave school, though, it’s on you to assess how you are going to improve from one grade of performance to the next.