How are you doing? It’s a question you probably get almost daily from friends, family, and colleagues, For a while, my conversations were pandemic-heavy – how we’re isolating, managing the new patterns and locations of work, juggling the needs and desires of kids, enjoying the intense togetherness – and then complaining and worrying about the intense togetherness.
Wanting to get out of these emotionally draining conversations, I began to busy myself with what I’ll call pandemic-induced professional development. While I’ve always been interested in personal growth and development, now I’ve been consuming information and experiences as if it were daily, delicious scoops of ice cream. Oh, a webinar on maintaining personal wellness and balance? Check! A workshop on creating and delivering a podcast? Check! A five-week group coaching session? Check! You want me to read that great book you recommended? Purchased! What? Another book? Purchased!
Here’s a summary of a few professional development experiences.
As a member of a community of consultants in the American Society of Association Executives, a couple dozen of us met weekly as soon as the pandemic hit. These virtual forums were informal ways to share our challenges and get caught up on what our association clients were experiencing. We were creating a helpful community of people to lean on and learn from. As time went on, we met twice a month for informal conversation. Now we’ve decided a monthly forum works best, with specific topics. It’s a great lesson that a great learning opportunity doesn’t have to cost a thing. It doesn’t need a lot of structure. And, it’s ok to close it down, when the time comes. It’s been a true forum of experts who have self-organized and met the needs of a lot of people.
Okay, this one might not fit the bill as professional development but it’s definitely personal development. I truly believe in the power of moving meditations. Whether you’re walking and reflecting, practicing yoga, or writing in a journal, there’s value to moving your body while your brain is in action. My recent moving meditation has been origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. In Japanese American families, we often fold one thousand paper cranes for engaged couples wishing them happiness and good luck. I may not have folded a thousand, but I did several dozen, and I folded when I was on pandemic conference calls! Check out the photo.
For five weeks I participated in group coaching sessions led by Lisa Mohl Kaplin. It was the exact right mix of information sharing, reflection, homework assignments, and group chat. Because of my consulting work, I’m frequently focused on a client’s organizational goals and strategies. I haven’t taken the time to plan my own future and the timing was great to hunker down and fully participate. New goals and intentions were created, ON PAPER, and I’m beginning to execute quite a few. Ah, the power of the pen and accountability! Check her out at lisakaplin.com. She’s amazing.
This last activity might be called decluttering, but I’m reframing it as professional development. Reviewing electronic files made me prioritize the “keepers” from the irrelevant, and maintain what was timeless and delete the dated. Now I have folders of pared-down, useful information instead of a huge reservoir of resources. I rediscovered some great workshop content and activities. And, I discovered waaaay too many versions of basically the same document. My folders and my brain are a little less cluttered now!
What have you done to empower yourself with information?
What have you done to strengthen or stretch your skill-set?
How have you connected with others for professional development?