Last week as we started to gather in our weekly Member Huddle, there were just two of us on there early. ‘How are you this evening?’ I asked. ‘Oh tired and busy! I’ve taken on way too many courses and totally over-extended myself’ came the weary and somewhat frustrated reply.
Does it sound familiar? Have you fallen into that trap of biting off more than you can chew on the learning front? Have you taken on too many training courses, attended too many virtual conferences, sat in on too many webinars? If you’re honest, have you found yourself on Zoom way more often than you actually need to and past the point where you are actually learning something?
As a committed lifelong learner, it’s been a bit like being that child in a sweetshop this year! Never before have knowledge and expertise been so readily accessible. Never before have people in tourism businesses had as much time and opportunity to invest in their professional and personal development. The urge to sign up to everything has been almost irresistible, to snap up as much as you can just because it’s there and before the opportunity disappears! 2020 has been a professional development bonanza!!
The only thing is that the time given to learning, training and networking may also be more random now than ever before. Just because the course is available doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. Time is still precious and it’s really important to preserve our mental bandwidth. When you are overwhelmed by the results of your own actions and decisions, like my fellow Huddler was last week, it’s a good signal to pause a moment, step back and think about what you’re at!
I found the following 5 Questions provided a good framework for being a bit more intentional about my 2020 learning journey. Working through these questions will help you create your own professional development plan (it works just as well for your personal goals but right now I’m focusing on business goals),
A sixth question that may be particular to this time is ‘If I had to pay full price for this and if I had to travel for this, would I still do it?’ Answering that honestly really separates the wood from the trees!
I encourage you to spend the time to not just think about these questions, but also to write down the answers. Questions 4 and 5 are perhaps the ones being most overlooked right now, mainly because they are in the realm of raising your own awareness. They are internal questions with no right or wrong answer – just the answer that’s true for you.
It may be a help with your own reflections if I share my own conclusions on these two when it comes to myself and a few things I’ve learned about my own learning style this year. I know that recordings of a conference or a training really help me. I can listen back after the event and refresh my learning while doing exercise or at the time I need to apply the learning. I find books great for insight and knowledge – perhaps the cheapest and most accessible way to learn anything. I’m particularly enjoying Audible which is just a fantastic accompaniment to a walk or bout on the treadmill! I love the opportunities of Zoom and of being able to take a 1 hour training and only have to devote that one hour to it, rather than having to spend time getting ready, driving, having coffee.
However, I know I don’t learn very well on online calls where I can’t see other participants or can’t interact with the trainer or speaker (even if I don’t actually interact, I like to know that I can and I like to hear questions and observations from others). In these cases, I now know I’m better to avoid the frustration I experience and just wait for the recording when I can work through in my own time. I’m not delighted with seminars or guest talks where the time isn’t well moderated.
What I love the most is learning from a group of peers, like in our Member Huddle on Mondays or in the two Female Entrepreneurs groups I’ve been lucky enough of be part of over the last year. They are great spaces for organic learning that comes from sharing, comparing and supporting each other in a very everyday kind of way.
That’s me. What about you? Why not look back at all the things you’ve been engaged in and just take stock of the ones that excited you the most and where you learned the most. There’s no need to hurtle into every learning opportunity that comes your way. Be selective, intentional and keep on growing!