Professional development is a buzzword we hear often. But, what exactly does it mean and why is it important?
Simply put, professional development is the act of improving and strengthening the skills you possess that make you great at your job. While it’s important in all professional settings, it’s extremely important in the youth activity center space to continue to sharpen your skills, learn new ones, and expand the knowledge of your industry in order to best assist the students that enter your facility each day.
From owners to instructors and coaches to office staff – everyone benefits when everyone makes professional development a priority. And if you are the type that yawns at the thought of professional development, just remember, it’s a way to step up your game for a future pay rate increase or promotion. I think we all like the sound of that!
What does professional development look like in 2021?
I recently interviewed a great friend and Jackrabbit client, Aaron Rayford with Little Fish Swimming in Fredericksburg, VA to get his take on what professional development looks like in 2021. If the name sounds familiar, Aaron was the keynote speaker at BOOST 2020, where he kicked off the conference live from his RV on a cross-country road trip with his wife and four kids.
In all the connections he’s made with swim school owners and professionals across the country, Aaron understands how important it is to continue learning and mastering skills – new and old – for all of his business ventures.
“We tend to judge our success based on how many new people walk through the door or buy our product or service. While this type of growth is essential to the continued success of our businesses, we sometimes neglect to invest in our personal growth. Personal development is essential to the continued life of a company. If you aren’t fueling yourself with new challenges, new knowledge, and new vigor, your work can become stale. Instead of seeing your sales continue to soar, you may experience burnout, apathy, and stagnation.” – Aaron Rayford
Are you inspired to invest in professional development? Contrary to popular belief, professional development doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Here are four easy ways to hit your new professional development goals heading into 2022.
1. Read daily
There are a lot of great professional development books and blogs out there for you to read. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a fellow owner or peer in your industry if they have any recommendations. Whether you read a chapter a day while you sip your morning coffee, or subscribe to your favorite blog to catch up on at the end of the day – it will keep you inspired and forward-thinking while you create a new habit, in the best way!
2. Listen to podcasts
Reading not your gig? That’s what is so great about all the content out there – there’s something for everyone.
If you find a great recommendation for a professional development book, buy the audiobook and listen to it on your commute to the gym, studio, or pool. Looking for something a little shorter? Podcasts! Reach out to your network on the best podcasts out there and start subscribing so you can listen while you work.
3. Collaborate with others
We’ve all heard the saying ‘there’s power in numbers’. With that in mind, professional development doesn’t have to be a solo act. Collaboration is a powerful thing that not only expands your ideas but gives you accountability.
Collaboration doesn’t have to end inside your team. Think outside of the box and join forces with another local business to build strong community relationships that help everyone involved. If you know you have another person or business counting on you, you’re way more likely to show up and show up strong – am I right?!
4. Attend a conference
In addition to the things you can do on a daily basis, it’s a great idea to go beyond your immediate network and attend a conference.
Conferences are a great way to learn new business strategies, network with other like-minded people, and feel inspired to reach those goals you’ve set for yourself. This is time you can spend away from the business to work on the business without the day-to-day interruptions and distractions. With so many conferences available online, access to content is way more affordable, and attending is way more practical.
Professional development doesn’t have to be hard. Using these four tips on ways to start implementing professional development right away is worth the investment in you and your youth activity center.
“You will be surprised how much you can grow personally by implementing just these few things. Investing time into yourself will always result in a positive ROI for your business. Instead of settling for where you have been, take the time to read, collaborate with others and put some dates on the calendar for a seminar to help you and your business soar to new heights.” – Aaron Rayford