This is the ultimate guide to professional development.
If you want to develop better skills, make more money, and go further in your career than you ever thought possible, this is the guide for you.
In the next few minutes, we'll break down how world-class entrepreneurs and CEOs developed their professional skills and climbed to the top, and we'll give you a practical, 8-step method for following in their footsteps.
Let's dive right in.
Why You Should Prioritize Professional Development
First of all, what is professional development?
Professional development is about expanding your expertise, improving your skills, and growing within your chosen profession. It's about maximizing your personal growth and reaching your goals.
Many people assume that they will get everything they need from college or on-the-job training, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
On the one hand, if you really want to excel in your career, you have to grow faster than everyone else next to you - all of whom received the same education and training that you did.
On the other hand, the average person will have 12-15 different jobs by age 40, and that number is increasing each year.
If you want to hold the reins and jump upward from job to job, you need to develop your skills and mastery in your field. Otherwise, you won't be jumping from position to position. You'll be simply be cycling from job to job and never getting ahead.
The same is true for independent contractors in the expanding gig economy. You either develop your skills to be a premium provider, or you fight and scratch with the masses for poorly paid gigs.
But most importantly of all, investing in yourself is the single best ROI you'll ever get in your life.
One student of ours invested $2,000 in our Consulting Accelerator course and within two months, he had nearly doubled his monthly income from around $8k per month to $15k per month.
That means a $2,000 investment in himself resulted in a yearly return of $84,000... an ROI of 41,000%!
This the power of professional development.
8 Steps to Maximize Your Professional Development
Professional development happens in two places:
- In your own internal world
- In your external world
The truth is that you can only grow so much through self-development, and you can only grow so much through being around the right people.
To truly maximize your growth, you need both!
And that's why both are included in our 8-step process. The first four steps deal primarily with your internal world, while the final four steps deal primarily with your external world.
Let's start with the most important one.
1. Develop A Growth Mindset
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, most people have one of two mindsets:
- A fixed mindset
- Or a growth mindset
Someone with a fixed mindset sees the world in black and white, as "fixed" things.
You're either smart or you're not. You're funny or you're not. You're healthy or you're not. Opportunities for growth and change are minimal for someone who sees the world this way.
A person who embodies a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that even though they may not be intelligent right now, they can grow and study to improve their intellect (or your health, humor, etc.).
Obviously, a growth mindset is far more desirable for someone interested in personal development. This outlook doesn't place restrictions on what you can do or be, given enough practice and time.
In order to cultivate a growth mindset, you need to become a lifelong learner. You do this through investing in yourself, reading books, taking online courses, and continually learning about things you're curious about.
2. Create a Morning Routine
"Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it." Richard Whately
If you've done any reading in the self-help category, you've probably heard that most successful people swear by their morning routine.
While you don't need a strict 2-3 hour routine filled with blood, sweat, and tears to be successful, the way you start your day dictates how the whole day unfolds.
Meaning, if you start your day waking up late, scarfing down a quick junky breakfast (or worse, fast food), and rushing to get to work, you're setting yourself up for failure.
A great morning routine is usually going to consist of:
- A healthy breakfast
- Physical activity
- Meditation and/or journaling
Your body is a limiting factor in every part of your life and professional activity. There are no shortcuts and you can't cheat it. You need great fuel in the form of good sleep and a solid, healthy breakfast to operate at a high level.
Once you wake up, setting aside time for some physical activity, whether it's a 15 minute jog or an hour at the gym, is proven to help activate your mind and body to be ready for the day.
Finally, some level of meditation is helpful to further engage and settle your mind to prepare for the day. Some people prefer a more active mental reset in the form of journaling, while others benefit more from clearing their minds in more of a traditional meditation.
This isn't a hard template you need to follow, but if you don't develop a consistent morning routine, your mood, productivity, and development each day won't be consistent either.
3. Seek To Learn Every Single Day
Successful people are lifelong learners.
And while learning can happen in a variety of ways, one of the single best ways to self-propel your learning is through reading. Books can expose you to new ideas and reading has been shown to increase creativity and critical thinking, as well as the ability to make new connections between topics.
In fact, Timothy Bates and Stuart Ritchie, at Edinburgh University, have empirically proven the connection between reading well and future job success. Your ability to read as a child is correlated with how strong your socioeconomic status will be as an adult.
Even if you weren't a young bookworm, it's never too late to learn and improve. While scientists used to believe that your brain plasticity (your brain's ability to change and learn new information) decreased with age, newer studies are debunking this theory. You can continue to adapt and learn as long as you're alive and healthy.
Here are some great books to start with:
- How Life Works by Andrew Matthews
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Willpower Doesn't Work by Benjamin Hardy
- The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantine
- The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
- The One Thing by Gary Keller
Of course, in order to develop a reading habit, you need to find books and topics YOU are interested in, not just whatever any "successful person" recommends.
Otherwise, you'll never feel the itch of curiosity that creates an intrinsic desire to read more.
Grab a book on any topic that interests you, whether that's religion, psychology, mathematics, marketing, business, or anything else. Start with where your curiosity is, then expand from there. Soon, you'll be a book-craving machine.
If you have a hard time reading, you can also try audiobooks or even podcasts. Here are a few great options to get you started:
- Entrepreneurs on Fire
- Noah Kagan Presents
- Make Your Body Work
- The Ed Mylett Show
- Better Life Better Business
Just try a bit of everything until you find something you like!
4. Allocate Time For Reflection
Remember how journaling and/or meditating is a good part of your morning routine?
These practices have loads of benefits, from stress release to a better understanding of your own emotions and emotional control.
While those are excellent reasons to try these routines, the real reason they're recommended is for self-reflection. If you keep a journal and write down how your day went, what you did well and what you could have done better, then review those pages over time, you'll begin to notice behavior patterns.
For example, you might notice that when you start to feel overwhelmed, you tend to procrastinate, switching over to video games, or browsing social media, or even checking email.
Once you notice these habits, you can actively work to improve or navigate them. Sometimes, you can simply will yourself to change your habits, but usually, you'll need to arrange your environment to help you change, such as bringing in an accountability partner.
Journaling is going to be an evolving process, and different people will find different areas of focus. To start, think about and write down some of the following:
- What are my top 3 priorities today?
- What could stop me from doing these well?
- How can I overcome the things that could stop me?
- What did I do well today?
- What could I have done better?
- What am I grateful for?
Go get yourself a journal, then read on to step five!
5. Curate Your Network
Porter Gale, a serial entrepreneur and best-selling author, wrote an insightful book with a telling title: Your Network Is Your Net Worth.
Your life is going to end up in a very similar position to those you spend the most time with. If you are around wealthy people all the time, it likely won't be long until you are tapping into wealth yourself. If you are around people with healthy relationships, you are much likelier to have healthy relationships of your own.
On the flip side, if you are around complacent or dysfunctional people, you are much more likely to fall into those traps as well.
This is why curating the right network is a crucial step in your professional development journey.
If you are an outgoing person with a wide network, filtering out the wrong people and focusing on the right people will be your next step.
If you are more introverted, you will probably need to first expand your network so you can connect with people who will push you and help you grow. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Connect with people via social media
- Attend local networking events
- Attend conferences
- Reach out to people your respect and look up to
In truth, you will probably need to do a combination of all of these to get the network you want. Finding the right people requires a broad net, and forming relationships as an adult is tricky and requires time.
The important thing isn't that you curate your network in the next month. The important thing is that you are continuously taking proactive steps to curate your network over time.
6. Purchase Professional Training
There is a lot of amazing information on the internet, and nearly all of it can be obtained for free.
That said, information by itself isn't enough to propel you forward. If it was, everyone would be a lot further along in their careers and professional development.
It's incredibly challenging to accumulatie and organize free information in a way that allows you to take large leaps forward in your understanding.
This is why premium professional training can be so powerful. You have someone who has achieved something notable - something you wish to achieve as well - and they then create a training that intentionally transfers that knowledge to you.
In practice, this is 10x more valuable than you simply being handed all the relevant information in a bag of blog posts.
Trying to learn on your own is like taking a semester's worth of lesson plans, mixing them all up in a random order, and handing them to a high school student.
How effective do you think that will be?
Now take the student we mentioned earlier. The one who made a 41,000% ROI from our course? The insights he used to double his income could have been found on a blog post somewhere, but they wouldn't have revolutionized his business in the same way. He received the right advice at the right time, within the right context, and it changed everything!
The lesson here is that if you really want to learn something, you need to get trained by someone who really knows what they're talking about, and someone who is really invested in teaching it to you.
In 2019, that usually means purchasing a course.
So if you are new to your career, go find a course or training program that will help you get better. Invest in yourself.
And if you have been in your industry a long time, ask yourself, "What skills do I lack that could help propel me even further?"
- Maybe there's something your boss is good at that you need to learn in order to advance.
- Maybe there's a bottleneck in your business and branching into a new level of expertise will help you break through that bottleneck.
- Maybe you've never been able to find a satisfactory service provider in a certain area, and it's time for you to just take it into your own hands and learn it yourself.
Wherever you are trying to go, premium training will get you there faster.
7. Find A Mentor Or Mastermind Group
What's the point of a great network? ... being around the right people.
What's the point of premium training? ... learning from someone who has already done it.
Mentorship combines both of these in the same package. In many ways, it's the pinnacle of professional development. Nothing will propel you forward in your career and personal growth as fast as an amazing mentor.
There are two types of mentors:
- Organic mentors
- Paid mentors
It's possible that a mentor in your network will simply take you under their wing, but that would be an unusually fortunate scenario.
The more likely scenario is that you identify someone who could be a great potential mentor and connect with them. If this person is already someone you know within your network, that's ideal, but you can also reach out to people you've never personally met before.
Organic mentorships can look like a friendship, where you connect based on common ground, or they can look more like an employment scenario, where you work directly for the mentor or offer value to them in some other way.
Organic mentorships are great for a number of reasons:
- You usually spend a large amount of time with the mentor
- You get to observe their life as a whole and identify habits that lead to their success.
- There is typically no direct monetary expense involved.
Sometimes, however, an organic mentorship just isn't in the cards.
Another option is a paid mentorship. This functions similarly to premium training. You are paying someone to teach you what they know.
And since most people who offer premium training don't offer it 1-to-1, this will usually look like being involved in some sort of mastermind group, where you are meeting with the mentor in a group setting, along with a handful of other mentees.
Paid mentorships have some unique advantages:
- Your time with the mentor will usually be focused specifically on your success.
- The mentor will usually have a specific game plan in place to help you reach your goals.
- You will also be networking with your fellow mentees who you can learn a lot from.
Here's an example of a mastermind session with Consulting.com founder Sam Ovens:
Whether your mentor is organic or paid isn't important. What's important is that they are good at helping you develop professionally and reach your goals.
8. Teach What You Learn
The last step in your professional development journey is to step over from the learner to the teacher.
Ironically, this is one of the best ways to learn. According to educator Edgar Dale, we only retain 10% of what we read and 30% of what we see and hear (audio-visual learning). But we retain up to 90% of what we practice and teach.
Edgar lays this out nicely in something he calls the "cone of learning" (or "cone of experience"):
Source: Obsidian Learning
Attempting to teach something is one of the single best ways to understand it. You might think you understand why you've been able to come this far in your career, but once you stop and try to break it down into a lesson, you will discover truths and patterns that will guide you to even further success.
Teaching is also a prime way to establish your authority in your area of expertise. It's one of the reasons blogging has become such an integral part of online business. It's also why independent online education has begun replacing traditional school as the most powerful vehicle for launching careers.
If you feel like you've hit every other milestone on this list and you're questing for further development, the answer is teaching!
Start Your Professional Development NOW
Don't put this off. People overestimate what they can do in a year, but they drastically underestimate what they can do in 10 years.
If you don't start today, you'll wish you had down the road.
Start with Step #1. Focus on your mindset. And if you'd like help, click below to try the same program that has helped more than 3,000 students quit their jobs and launch successful, full time businesses!
We spend a large chunk of the first week focusing on mindset, and you can access it 100% free by clicking below!