Want to Grow—But Don’t Know How? Ask Madeleine

February 4, 2017 Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Dear Madeleine,

I love to grow and develop. I always take advantage of any 360° feedback assessments my company offers. I regularly ask my boss, direct reports, and peers for constructive feedback.

Lucky for me, my 360° scores are high and I generally hear “just keep doing what you are doing” from my coworkers. That said, I still want to stretch and grow but don’t have a clear idea of what I should do. Can you make any suggestions?

Want to Grow

Dear Want to Grow,

What a great problem to have. And I am so glad you asked—because, of course, I have loads of suggestions.

First the obvious: If your organization offers 360° feedback, there is a good chance they also offer training programs. Sign up for everything you can, and become a poster child for your favorite programs. Maybe you’ll find something you are so passionate about that you become a trainer.

Do you have an advanced degree? If not, perhaps your organization will help fund one. If you go that way, though, please don’t send me hate mail. It is worth it, but it is hard.

Ultimately, growth and development will come from creating goals and experiences for yourself that require you to be a little uncomfortable. Feedback is great and allows you to develop yourself in the context of your job and your current circle of colleagues. But that’s still only one perspective.  You’ll want to expand your thinking. Some ideas:

  • Look backwards to see where you have had your biggest wins. Think about what made those moments great and what qualities or strengths you have that have gone un-leveraged.
  • Move toward the heat. Notice what interests you that you enjoy and do naturally but that may not be on your radar screen. Perhaps you love to write—see if you can contribute to your company blog or newsletter. Perhaps you are an event planning genius and love throwing a great party—join a committee that might need you.
  • Build your network. The thing that is most important to your career growth besides work ethic and competence is the ability to grow and nurture a network of relationships. If this suggestion is unattractive to you, it probably means it would be an excellent new area for you to develop. Make a map of people in your organization who interest you and either start a relationship or build on the one you have. Find someone you respect and admire and ask them to mentor you. Scroll through the million connections you have on LinkedIn, find people you want to get to know, and set up a call.
  • Build your industry knowledge. Are you an expert in your field? If not, decide to become one. Join industry groups on social media and subscribe to newsletters to read up.
  • Travel. Save up your PTO and plan a month-long trip someplace you’ve always wanted to go. I didn’t realize I wanted to do that until a colleague did it and I felt a stab of envy. Guess what? I am going to Mongolia this summer—something I have been fantasizing about for fifteen years.
  • Master something. Choose one thing you are good at and you like to do and become a master at it. Mastery comes from intense commitment and repetition, and it can be extraordinarily fulfilling for some.
  • Look to the “life” portion of your life/work formula. Maybe your home environment is not quite up to your standard? How about your health and physical fitness? Perhaps your spiritual life could use some attention? How would rate your satisfaction with your relationships in terms of family and friends? Are you a parent? A great parent? You could take a parenting class. Now might be the time to get your home administration and financials systemized and effortless. How about volunteering for a cause you care deeply about? Go walk and play with dogs at your local shelter. Go hold babies in the NICU. Be a big brother or big sister. Spread the wealth of your wonderfulness.

Earlier, I mentioned envy for a reason. We are all mostly uncomfortable with the feeling of envy and even deny it when we do feel it; but it is instructive. Notice what others have that you feel envious of. That is data for you. It’s data about something you secretly want or maybe even need—something you don’t have because you probably haven’t admitted it to yourself.

I hope I have provided you with food for thought. Please let me know what you decide to do—I can’t wait to hear!

Love, Madeleine

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!


About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a Master Certified Coach and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. She is coauthor of Blanchard’s Coaching Essentials training program, and several books including Leverage Your Best, Ditch the Rest, Coaching in Organizations, and Coaching for Leadership.

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