Back to School?!

Ah, it's the end of summer and the kids are going back to school. Some of us are prepping our own kids for this adventure and some of us have kids beyond this stage in life. Regardless of your situation, I'm guessing you have fond "back to school" memories from your childhood.

Sure, there was some anxiety. I personally dreaded not being able to sleep in like I managed to do in the summer. While we may have not been looking forward to homework and tests, it was always an exciting time. There were new teachers, new classrooms, and new classmates. As a kid you never realized it, but the most important thing was the learning process was starting up again.

What does this have to do with the business world? Everything! In business, everyone knows things evolve and things change. But we're no longer part of a school system, so it's easy to let time slip by without engaging in self improvement. This happens and we can easily be left behind, as the business world evolves and we don't (I think that's how extinction happens!). Whether it is professional development, learning a new skill, or just learning something new on the personal side, it is important to keep moving forward. If you're a business owner or president of a company, no one is going to tell you the skills you need. You need to discover your weaknesses or interests and find the time and energy to learn. You are responsible for the state of you.

To make things worse, in the challenging economic times we've had as of late, a lot of companies and individuals cut back on training and development. People became inwardly focused and potentially consumed by their jobs. I know I personally fell into this trap. I've done less professional development activities in the last two years than probably any other two years of my career. I thought it was good to save the money and spend the time on the task at hand. This last year, I also gave up on a personal endeavor to learn Spanish, as I was often extremely busy with work. But when you eliminate these developmental endeavors, you limit your thinking to what you already know. Where do new ideas come from?

I know we've all had to hunker down these last couple of years and that's been critical for the short term (and if you don't make it through the short term, there is no long term!). But as a result, maybe I'm not progressing. It's time for me to get back to school!

How about you?