Well it’s been a LONG time since I’ve written here, and much has changed. I’ve returned to Australia (thank you Covid!) and settled into an awesome job as a secondary school library coordinator.
After taking a year off working and travelling the world, then coming back to a position where I had a lot to learn, it got me thinking about professional development. Yes, I’ve signed up to webinars, training and a variety of events. Bu there’s more to it, isn’t there…
When you think of professional development, it’s easy to focus on the traditional and tangible aspects of going to conferences, undertaking skills training, reading publications, networking and so on. But there’s an important aspect of professional development that can easily fall by the wayside, and that’s your personal development. Your mindset and attitudes are innately linked with your behaviours and your ability to develop professionally, so they are just as important to cultivate.
When I first started in my career, I wasn’t confident in my abilities, and often feared making mistakes. This kind of mindset held me back from achieving great things – being fearful of looking foolish meant I was unable to ask all the questions I should have, or make suggestions and share my ideas as fully. With time, I was able to work on this aspect of my personality and overcome that lack of confidence.
There are many traits that can stand you in good stead for a successful career, and it is important to spend time actively encouraging yourself to develop these. For instance, being flexible and open to change can be difficult for some people. But an inflexible attitude can lead to stagnation and limit your professional opportunities. Being too rigid in your plans is also limiting. We as professionals, and as people, need to recognise that there is often no set linear path to success, that things are always changing (whether we like it or not), and that being able to adapt, move sideways, take risks, utilise opportunities, think outside the box, and generally just be open, is one key to success.
It is also imperative to connect with people. Not just in a ‘networking’ way. You need to give as well as take, and develop connections with colleagues and peers – sharing knowledge, successes and failures. These shared experiences will help you build your confidence and support network. Feeling a sense of community in the Library field is one of my favourite parts of this career, and has helped me immensely as I’ve built myself up professionally. Being able to share gripes, or anxieties over a job interview, or joys over a project that worked out right, and being able to give that back to others, to build up other professionals and help them on their journey – this will empower you in your career.
Think about all the traditional professional development events you might attend. Now consider how much extra value you could gain from those occasions if you approached each of them with just the right attitude. How much more you might be able to learn, how many more connections you might take away. Taking up a holistic focus that looks at the complete package of ‘you’ will lead you towards becoming a great library and information professional.
If you want to learn more about the psychology of achievement and success, start with Carol Dweck’s book Mindset (2017). I found this a really invaluable resources and theory.
I hope that’s got you thinking about your growth, and how you might like to build on who you are as well as what you do.