Lesson 7: Continued Personal and Professional Development

I haven’t done formal study since my Masters which ended in 2011. That is a normal story for most of us, but to improve ourselves and our opportunities we must not stop learning. I am a huge advocate for self-learning from teaching yourself a new skill, exploring a different way of thinking through to taking up a new hobby, without this, there is a risk of myopia which blinkers even the best of us.

Each year I set myself three different objectives (note these are not resolutions, this is a carrot, not a stick approach):

  • Learn something new
  • Try something new
  • Have an adventure

In 2017 I signed up for a raft of audio-books on economics, learnt to ride a motorcycle and had an adventure exploring the Peak District. This year is still unfolding, but with a focus on Industry 4.0, applied technologies and digital manufacturing, mini-breaks exploring different parts of the UK I’ve never been to and trying drifting and track days.

The moment I think I know something I know I need to go out and be proven wrong / get my thinking expanded. The books I buy are often completely off my normal work topics because a different perspective helps me critically think. If you haven’t already I strongly recommend reading The Silk Roads, A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan – as they say, what you don’t learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.

Supporting this is working and socialising with a broad mix of people who challenge and inspire you, last year I had a brilliant business coach, Sara Milne-Rowe, who took me from thinking to articulation and action in just 3 months. I am sure I will work with her again soon.

The final recommendation to anyone wanting to broaden their minds and horizons is self-managed learning. I use FutureLearn, an online platform providing free introductory courses from Universities on a range of subjects. There are a few of these out there, the key for me is that I can be flexible with my learning and development. Work will peak and trough and I need to ensure I am giving myself the best chance of success in each area of my life that includes my continued development.

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