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What Professional Development Is…And Is Not

Growth is what professional development is.

I ran all over the internet trying to find a good definition for the phrase, “professional development.” All or nearly all definitions involved the words “education” or “continuing education.” And, many articles used phrases that were similar to but different from my idea of what it means. Let me tell you what I think professional development is.

Seeking growth

A quote from the late, great Jim Rohn helps us understand that professional development is about growing to the max.

“It seems that every life form on this planet strives toward its maximum potential … except human beings. A tree does not grow to half its potential size and then say, l guess that will do.”

To paraphrase Rhon, growth is about maximizing how far we drive our roots, how much we soak up nourishment, and how high and wide we stretch.

Not confusing the end goals

Many articles use the phrases “professional development” and “career advancement” as more or less synonymous — with the latter implying that promotion is the end goal. However, although job promotion is one possible end goal, it is not the only end goal.

I try to engage in development, both personally and professionally, every day of my life. Therefore, every day, I learn to read a little better, teach others a little better, write a blog a little better, run a business a little better, listen to a friend a little better, or knit socks a little better.

I’m not shooting for a promotion or even recognition. I just want to do something better. For me, the end goal of personal and professional development is leaving the world and those in it a little better off.

Using the 70/20/10 rule

True, taking more courses or getting more credentials is part of professional development. But research shows that we acquire professional development through the 70/20/10 rule.

That rule says that we can attribute 10% to education, 20% to professional relationships (which has happened for me) and 70% to doing tough assignments.

What professional development is: hard work

As you know, anything worth having is worth working for. Professional development means being constantly on the lookout for opportunities to grow. Therefore, you’ll need to seize those opportunities — large or small — every day

Professional development hasn’t always been easy for me, and it probably won’t be easy for you, either. But it will be worth it.

How can I help you with your own development? Leave me a note below.

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  1. Roberta Dabbs

    This was a very powerful and thought provoking article. The 70/20/10 rule helps us to develop balance which I believe is very important. You did an excellent job of driving the message home when you paraphrased Rhon’s thoughts on what it means to grow. Thank you!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Roberta, thank you for such positive feedback–I can’t recall that anyone has ever called my post “powerful” but I’m glad you found it so! I’ve seen the 70/20/10 rule work soooooooo many times in my own life. But, as with many of these things, it’s easier said than done!

  2. Cynthia Rasmussen

    I love this attitude! Yes we were sent to earth to learn and grow; not to find the easy path. What would it prove at the end of our lives if we just floated by? I want to wear myself out in the service of others and in all my feeble little mind can grasp. Thank You Marie!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Cynthia, I think you just made my day! This is one of my favorite posts, so I’m happy to hear it resonated with someone else. I’m seriously, seriously thinking of offering some free “thing” (webinar or something, I’m not sure what) to help people with their professional and/or personal growth. Very early in my career, I decided I wanted to be at the top of my game, and get recognition (and money!) for that growth. Now, I feel it is incumbent upon me to help others grow; get noticed; move forward. All of this starts with self-awareness. If you have an idea for what my “something” like look like, I’m all ears!

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