I recently worked with a large international pharmaceutical speaking to their international business analysts at a conference in Frankfurt.
They wanted me to share some ideas on how to improve their Continuing Professional Development.
Here are those recommendations for accelerating your career professional development:
1. Get Very Clear On What It Is You Are Trying To Achieve
Probably the most important point to get right when you are considering and managing your CPD is that of clarity.
There is just so much information bombarding us every second of the day that unless we are clear on what it is we are looking for, then it is very easy to become overwhelmed and feel out of control.
As soon as you get that clarity, it becomes very easy to notice the information of value to you but also to discard what does not serve your developmental purposes.
2. Become an Effective Reader
Although video and audio are fast becoming the primary media, certainly on the internet, you will still have to absorb much of your required knowledge via the written word.
Sadly our school system gives us the ability to read, but it does not develop us as effective readers.
To use a physical body analogy – it is like being taught how to walk and as soon as we take those first faltering steps we are thrown into the deep end and expected to be able to run, jog, dance, skip. somersault without any further training.
It is highly likely that your reading speed is in the region of 250-350 words per minute (which is well below what many experts believe is necessary just to survive in this information age).
You need to improve that if you want to just keep up (let alone get ahead) and here are some simple tips to do that:
Use a guide (your finger or a pen) to give your eyes something to follow as they move across a page of text (this will help you overcome some bad habits that really slow you down)
Instead of reading one word at a time as we were taught in class, read groups of words – 1,2 3 or more at a time (this will rapidly accelerate your reading rate without any loss of comprehension)
Develop ruthless filtering strategies to cut through the volume of stuff to find the nuggets of data vital to your CPD
There are many more things you can do to improve your reading effectiveness but if you want to find out more, click here to improve reading speed for a free audio that will describe everything you need to know.
3. Learn to Use Mind Mapping to Develop The Quality of Your Thinking
So having got clear on what it is you want and having developed your reading effectiveness, the next thing you need to do to improve the quality of your continued professional development is develop the quality of your thinking.
If you want to be able to analyse, synthesise, organise, prioritise and memorise your new found knowledge then the one tool I would recommend beyond all others, is that of Mind Mapping.
In simple terms if I asked you to take notes on a new topic that was important for your professional development, chances are you would “copy” the bits your thought were relevant to you.
In essence you are capturing CONTENT.
With Mind Mapping however, the very process of applying the tool forces you to THINK about what it is you are receiving so you capture the MEANING of it – a much higher level of thinking.
If you want more information, click here to find out about Mind Mapping Training for a free guide on how to get started with this amazing thinking tool.
4. Develop Your Memory
The main purpose of developing yourself professionally so you can claim all of those CPD points is of course to be able to gather relevant knowledge and experiences for you to draw upon later in your professional life.
To that end, you will need to be able to remember what it is you are learning.
You will of course remember much of what you learn because of the relationship to and development of your existing knowledge base – the power of association is extremely powerful.
However many people believe their memory is poor and getting worse as they get older based on references that are at best circumstantial when really there are plenty of things that can be done to not only maintain a good memory, but also improve it.
Here are just some:
Look at your physical lifestyle and (health issues permitting) develop a supportive diet and exercise regime to improve your levels of health, vitality and fitness (always seek qualified medical advice beforehand)
Outside of your professional environment, stimulate your mind and memory by learning new skills, taking up a new hobby or simply doing lots of mental puzzles.
Start believing in your memory (often the biggest reason for a decline) and say positive things to yourself about it (don’t laugh, this alone could be the turning point for you!)
Discover and apply the vast range of memory improvement techniques available to you.
5. Believe in Yourself
And finally, just believe in yourself.
Probably the biggest thing that holds us back from moving forward in any area of our lives is that of belief.
Whether it is because we are conforming to some socially ingrained stereotypes or just dealing with inappropriate programming from our upbringing, the beliefs we have about ourselves and what is possible for us will dictate our success in life.
So everytime you come up against one of those internal barriers (you will know when you hit one), just look inside and see if you can discover what is causing it and then try and replace it with something more supportive.
It is a lifelong task (unless you are already enligthened 🙂 ) but one that will reap rewards on many different levels, not just Continuing Professional Development.