Have you ever played World of WarCraft or any other type of role playing video game? Or maybe adventure games such as Grand Theft Auto?
In those, there were probably some skills you had to work on to level up or advance in the game.
Professional development can be thought of as the set of activities you must do to improve the skills that will allow you to “level up” in your career.
Taking this approach of gamifying my career has allowed me to have fun while growing professionally. Now when I’m planning the activities I will be doing during the week I think in terms of the skills I must develop to “level up”.
That is why I recently started an improv comedy class. Because it will allow me to develop my communication skills, as well as my teamwork capabilities and assertiveness.
The goal of this article is that after reading it you are will be able to identify at least one or two areas you want to work on to “level up” in your career.
In fact, that is a big component of everything we do here at BizLatte. We want to offer you resources and tools for you to start walking in the right direction in your career. Think about BizLatte as the FAQ or Guide for the game which is your professional career.
The place where you should start is here. This is where you will take the first step to Identifying Your Professional Purpose, which will allow you to then create a plan to get where you want to go in your career.
Now let’s explore some ways in which you can start taking action to move your career to the next level.
The Professional Development Game
There is a reason the BizLatte team says “professional purpose” instead of just “purpose.” Your overall purpose in life is deeply internal and reflects your beliefs on the world. Whereas your professional purpose is slightly different as it’s more aligned with your career decisions.
Ideally these two overlap, yet people have different beliefs; therefore, we use the term “professional purpose” as BizLatte’s goal is to get you on the path to your dream job. Reaching the job which makes you excited is difficult. Just look at the stats.
- In the United States, 70% of employees are disengaged from work (Gallup)
- Going worldwide, the number of disengaged goes up to 87% (Washington Post)
Imagine this for a moment. Most people do not like their work. And we wonder why the United States and other countries are suffering through economic, social, and political turmoil. We have a large population who are disengaged which transfers to their daily life. Would the world be a better place if people loved their job? Probably.
Don’t counter with, well we need people to do crappy jobs. Some of those people are the happiest on the planet. I have worked in a third-world country and during those years I could not comprehend how much happier these people were compared to me and others I know. For more information on this phenomenon read Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger.
How do we reach a place where every workday is exciting, we love what we do, and we make the world a better place? The answer is simply to have a clear professional purpose. When you have one, all the distractions of life are simply that . . . a distraction. You keep moving toward your professional purpose and bypass the distractions. Yet, if your professional purpose is cloudy, those distractions can take years away from getting to where you would find the most fulfillment.
Don’t worry if your professional purpose is unclear, we have many free resources on how to find it and will spend the next two weeks diving into the subject.
“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” - Michael Jordan
Practice is important, but it is key you are practicing the right way and also that you are practicing the skills that will have a bigger impact.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or out of place? Excellent, that is a great sign because it means you are expanding your limits.
That is exactly the situation I was in two years ago when I started my MBA program at Bauer. It was speaking a language that isn’t my native one, I was part of an education system which I knew nothing about, and I was in a totally different culture.
Most of you have probably been in situations like this. At this moment you have to do a bit of research and discovery, as well as asking for guidance. Because this is what will help you identify the skills you need to start working on to grow.
One of my first classes was a Business Communications class, taught by Professor Amy Vandaveer (this is by far one of the top 3 classes that had the biggest impact on my professional development).
In this class, we had Professor Randy Webb as a guest speaker. Professor Webb began his career in sales and was the youngest corporate officer in the history of the Dial Corporation. He was also President and CEO of Uncle Ben’s Inc., the food division of Mars, Inc.
He clearly knew how to “level up” professionally so I paid close attention. He showed us a clip from the movie The Godfather. To this day I still go back and review my notes from that class visit.
“Influence vs. Authority”
“Leadership is conferred by followers”
“When people hear your name what do they think of?”
These are some of the key ideas that I keep thinking about and that allowed me to identify the skills that I needed to work on to “level up” professionally.
This moment is what started my journey of learning how to be a better speaker, how to network and build meaningful relationships, and how to create social capital by helping others.
This professional development journey allowed me to go from 200 contacts on LinkedIn to 1300+. It has allowed me to build meaningful relationships with many valuable individuals in the Houston community and at Bauer. Now I am able to share what I have learned in different situations such as the Networking Boot Camps we conduct, career panels, pitch clinics and competitions, and many other events.
The most important part of all of this is you can do the same. Today you can start doing the activities that will allow you to level up.
Take Action to Level Up
Similar to Alejandro, my MBA program was uncomfortable. Before the program, I was an anthropologist who worked in a third-world country. I was completely out of place during the first semester.
I distinctively remember speaking to one of the career counselors about my challenges and how I was learning to adapt. She said, "you need to know the rules of the game to play." To which I countered, "you need to know how to bend the rules to make the game your own."
Once you can bend the rules you will level up your career. You need to know which game you are making your own and that all starts with purpose. What are your goals? Where do you want to go? How much money do you want to make? How will you help others with your career?
You must answer some of the basic questions first, then you can move forward in a strategic path which will allow you to reach your goals. If you are still unclear on fundamental questions, try our free e-guide Identifying Your Professional Purpose. It is by far our most popular guide for good reason. In a few short pages, you will determine which game you are playing and how to move forward.
Also, keep following BizLatte, we are hard at work for an exciting announcement in a few months which will provide you tools to quickly enhance your professional development. In the meantime follow us on social media for more free resources.
Alejandro I. Sanoja & Matt Avery