2 Critical Elements for Every Professional Development Plan

If you have ever worked on a professional development plan you know they can be simple and complex at the same time. Your plan can be less than a page long but the amount of work and self-reflection that goes into it can be grueling, soul-searching work.

Here’s a great, simple article to help you understand what a professional development plan is. I want to talk about two critical elements that could easily be a part of your written professional development plan but definitely needs to be central to how you execute on every element of your written plan. These are so cool I’m going to say they are both superpowers.

Superpower One: Know Thyself to Execute on Your Professional Development Plan

Know Thyself is not just a cute “Ancient Greek aphorism” (which the internet says is “a pithy observation that contains a general truth.”) Know thyself is a theme that I keep coming up against as I do my soft skill and professional development courses on Pluralsight.

One of my all-time favorite courses is on emotional intelligence. This is a course I went into thinking emotional intelligence, or EQ, was kind of fluffy feel-good stuff. But after diving in, reading and researching, and thinking about the importance of emotional intelligence, I realized this was perhaps the most important course I would do. Spreading the word about emotional intelligence could improve the world, one person at a time.

The very first (of five) pillar of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. When you are self-aware you can excel in the other four pillars. Without self-awareness your emotional intelligence is seriously inhibited.

Self-awareness is all about knowing thyself.

When you know yourself you can have an honest understanding of what your preferences and tendencies are.

Preferences and tendencies… I did not choose those words lightly! Preferences and tendencies are what you learn from personality assessments. Love them or hate them, they should give you a decent perspective of why you do (and think and say and react) the way you do. I just updated a course on working and communicating with people who have different personalities (and understanding your own personality) In that course I talk about the Myers-Briggs and the DiSC assessments, and how the information you get from those assessments can really help you understand yourself (and others).

Understanding your preferences and tendencies can help you understand if your professional development plan is reality. You might want to, for example, become an entrepreneur. But when you do an honest assessment of your personality you might determine your professional development plan needs a serious revision. I’m not saying you can’t do hard things, or you can’t learn new things. I’m all about doing hard things and learning new things. But perhaps you need to change tasks, timeframes, or expectations.

Fun fact: In my original and updated course on personalities I mention “superpower” multiple times!

Superpower Two: Know How You Work to Execute on Your Professional Development Plan

I’m excited to share this second superpower with you. I’ve actually had this blog post up for a week or two, since I saw it on Twitter. This is a new idea to me but it is FREAKING AWESOME! Please, please go read Josh Ghent’s brilliant post titled How You Work.

The premise is that we have, and maybe sometimes read, user manuals. But we don’t really think too much about what our own user manual would be! WHAAAAT? A personal user manual?

Talk about knowing thyself!

The difference between the superpower above and this superpower is that I want you to focus on, instead of your preferences and tendencies, how you actually work? What are ways you should, and should not, work? Again, when you write your professional development plan you can compare what you have listed against how you actually work.

Do they match up? Or have you written things in your professional development plan that are unrealistic based on how you actually work?

Look, I’m not going to repeat Josh’s great (and short) blog post here. Please go read it. Have FUN creating your own user manual. Let this be a living document. Understanding how you work will impact more than just your professional development plan.