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12 More Professional Development Questions


Steve Woodruff's recent article on the 12 Most Important Questions for Your Identity may be geared toward companies, but I think are just as useful for individuals. Below are my re-writes for individual professional development. 

1. What do you REALLY want to do? 

This is really the most vital question you can ask yourself. It is the question that can (and should) drive all of your professional development actions. 

2. Where do you really ring the bell? 

This question is about your strengths, your most important qualities--your positive core. While you may be pretty good at many things, knowing the 1-3 things you're REALLY good at can help you think more strategically about how to build on your assets. 

3. Where is there a hole in the market?

Don't be a commodity, like everyone else. Look around your profession or industry and see where someone needs to make a difference and drive some big changes. How could your skills and talents fill that hole? 

4. Is there an opportunty to become the "go-to" person for a specialized niche? 

This might be related to your answer to number 3, but look to places where you might be able to become highly specialized and focused. It's better to be absolutely necessary to a small group of customers, based on your specialized talents, than it is to be like everyone else. 

5. Who are your ideal customers (or employers)?

In his post, Steve shares a piece of advice he received years ago--"Not all business is good business." Just because you COULD work for someone doesn't mean you should. It's definitely worth it for you to define your ideal employer or, if you're a small business, your ideal customers. This can help you refine and focus your efforts. 

6. What do you want to build? 

This is about what role you want work to play in your life. What does work do for you? Is career incredibly important so you want to put a lot of energy into it? Or is it a means to an end? Is work about you doing something great in the world? How does it tie in with your identity and sense of self? 

7. Where is the revenue?

In the process of planning for your career and professional development, you may find that you want to be in a different place than you are now. Maybe instead of working for another company you want to work for yourself. Or maybe you want to move into a different industry or profession. How will you support yourself during this transition? 

8. What kind of people do I need around me?

When it comes to professional development and career, I think it helps to look at the support system we need and whether or not we have it. Who is supporting you in professional development? Do you have colleagues around you who want to learn? What about mentors and sponsors? Have you created for yourself a circle that allows you to grow and flourish professionally?

9. What do you stink at? 

OK, so this question doesn't tie into my focus on "positive professional development," but it actually isn't a bad one to ask. Finding out what you are NOT good at is a great clue about where you need to develop your connections and network. It's also a good way to help you refine your vision for your career and professional development--how can you create opportunities for yourself that mitigate your weaknesses?

10. Where's the synergy? 

In terms of professional development, this could apply to people, companies or opportunities. Who or what can you connect to that will allow you to generate a value that is greater than the sum of its parts? 

11. How's your network?

Big, big question. Who is in your network? What have you done for them lately? Are there other people you'd like to add? Who? What are you going to do for them? This is a world where connections can make or break us professionally. Paying attention to the health of your network is a major professional development skill. 

12. Where are your examples and inspiration?

Now HERE is a great positive PD question. Look around you. Who do you know personally who is an inspirational example of learning and professional development? What stories, quotes, ideas, etc. can you collect that will inspire you to grow as a learner and keep on learning?

So that's my modification of Steve's list. Thoughts? How could we use these for ongoing professional development? 



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