Chief Operating Officer, 10+ Years in Business Development & Leadership, Former Infantry Officer
March 6th, 2019
"Holy smokes. Is this another self-helpy article about growth and development. Oh no. It is. Why? Why, Chris? Why?"
If this is what’s going through your head right now, know that this is going through mine as I write this, however, I’ve been told -- thanks, Liz -- that this an area that needs some love.
As leaders, too often we talk about setting business goals, financial goals, and team goals, but how often do we talk about learning and development goals?
Whether you've caught the vision of inbound leadership or are simply hooked on the idea of self-improvement through life-long learning, this will be an article that simply shares a fellow life-long learner’s approach. If you are one of us -- I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the topic.
Now, for those of you who know you need to make a commitment to your own growth and development but haven’t figured out how to make it happen -- this is for you.
And for you all, I'll give you some good news. The process for growing and developing as a leader here is incredibly simple:
Clearly define your growth and development goals for the year and then write them down.
Share these goals with others just like you share your team’s goals or the business’s goals.
Finally, track your progress against your documented goals.
The key here is if we treat our development goals the same way we treat our business goals, we are going to be more prone to achieve them. This simple act of awareness accompanied by a true follow-through (sharing and tracking) allows you to be on the path to success.
In the spirit of practicing what I'm preaching, I’m going to share with you all my 2019 learning and development goals, but before I do, I want to share one other thing that is truly important.
Throughout my career, I always felt a need to become a leader, better paratrooper, and a better overall business professional. This need guided my path. It curated my reading lists, my TED Talk watch lists, and, frankly, my thought process in general.
As a result, however, I became hyper-focused on those singular end states (better leader, paratrooper, business professional) and lost track of a more real thing -- being human.
I share this because as I’ve reflected on the last year and I look ahead to the remainder of this year, I’ve found my focus is on being a better human. If I can achieve that, my other goals will follow.
To be clear, I agree there is nothing wrong with focusing on your job or what you are trying to get better at. Rather, my broader point is to share that personal growth and development doesn’t have to simply be about your job.
This year I want to write more. I want to take the ideas I shared in the inbound leadership guide and truly bring them to life for anyone who wants to learn about it.
I am going to set a goal of writing 24 articles this year focused on inbound leadership and related issues. My intent here is to continue exploring this new philosophy of leadership with hopes that someday it can come together in a book.
Like reading, I’ve found that writing is a place where I come to learn. Working through the ideas I write about I come across new thoughts and ideas that help me get a little bit better, which is the goal.
This goal is hyper-focused on my subject matter, inbound leadership. However, it is my goal to use this to not only continue to develop this inbound leadership philosophy, but also to see how this work can compliment my goals of being a better human.
Is this a place where I can share my experiences, my failures, my wins? We’ll see!
Teach 6 Workshops & Become a Better Communicator
At the heart of being an effective inbound leader is being able to communicate effectively with other people. At IMPACT, we made a company-wide commitment to become better communicators through trainings and small group cohort coaching.
For the last few months, Marcus has been coaching me on World Class Communication, a set of principles that allow you to truly communicate with teammates, clients, prospects, and audiences. This is Marcus’s bread and butter, and learning this from him is one of the coolest things I’ve done at IMPACT.
But here's the deal, folks.
Learning about it is one thing, but teaching it to groups quite another.
Currently, Marcus and I are working together to prepare for the first communications training for our leaders at IMPACT, with Marcus as the facilitator.
Then, throughout the rest of the year, I will be teaching this workshop to everyone else at IMPACT, conducting refresher training, working one-on-one with folks on the team, and, hopefully, teaching this to some of you at our office in New Haven.
The goal is being able to teach six successful workshops this year -- contributing to better communication both at IMPACT and beyond.
Meditating an Hour (or More) Per Day + Silent Retreat
So, here’s the deal. I have a daily vipassana (insight) meditation practice.
I started with basic mindfulness meditation almost two years ago doing five to 10 minutes a day(ish).
After about a year of my practice, I started reading and researching meditation more than I had in the past. This has led to increasing and adding to my practice over the last nine months. Since June, I’ve been averaging about 60 minutes a day, broken up usually into two to three “sittings” a day.
This year, I am diving into the deep end of the meditation and mindfulness world.
In fact, as you read this, I'm currently attending a silent retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in rural Massachusetts.
Also, I am focused on simply being present. I intend to maintain or exceed my 60-minute dose of meditation daily, but I want to explore and expand my mindfulness in every-day life as well.
"Why Are You Telling Me All of This?"
Those are my initial growth and development goals for 2019.
“Wait a minute. Why did he say initial?”
Absolutely. Just like business goals, thee will be times I need to adjust my growth and development goals based on changing conditions -- and you should expect to do the same.
To be clear, opening the door to adapting and updating your goals throughout the year is not an invitation not doing the work.
Rather, you are giving yourself the ability to add, modify, and refine the work you want to do.
I’ve heard many great leaders talk about, “What gets inspected is what gets done” or “What gets measured gets managed,” or something along those lines. (I'm sure you have, too.)
Why don’t we apply our growth and development goals to this idea?
That’s the challenge.
So, are you going to set the conditions for success for your business this year? (In my head I’m hearing a loud "YES!" and you can't convince me otherwise.)
If that’s the case, why not do the same thing for your personal growth and development?
And if I can, I want to be a part of your learning -- so, let me know how I can help!