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Executive Leadership Coaching

3 minute read

Are You Ready to Take Control of Amping Up Your Professional Development?

Mar 27, 2019

Written by: Shawn Sweeney

Are you ready to take control of amping up your professional development? Take matters into your own hands — and take control of your own destiny — by amplifying your learning and growth.

Think about how football players prep for the week’s big game. They live and breathe preparation, day and night, getting ready for what amounts to only a few hours of focused effort on game day. Imagine if business teams invested as much time and energy preparing for their work as sports teams do. Of course that level of effort isn’t realistic in business. But consider how many business people spend 0 hours on training. That’s a pretty wide gap.

The bottom line: We can all benefit from dedicating more time to improving our game.

Many professionals believe it’s the responsibility of their employer to enable them to keep their skills fresh. And organizations today do provide professional development and learning opportunities in the form of in-office training, conferences, and tuition reimbursement.

But I challenge you to do more.

Go ahead and take advantage of all of those opportunities at work. And then do more. Make learning and training your priority so you can be your best — for your projects, your clients, your job, your company, and, yes, even for your next move.

Take a look at this list of professional development resources you can leverage right now. They’re not only resources I recommend, they reflect what I practice myself and how our entire Spinnaker team invests in their own growth every day. At Spinnaker, growth is essential to our success — and our clients’. In fact, it’s so critical to how we operate that we screen for a strong growth mindset when we interview potential hires. For us, the pursuit of learning and growing never stops.


Connect with a mentor, a coach, or both.

All athletes have a coach. So should you! In fact, the best athletes have multiple coaches. Start with one, then take it to the next level by connecting with more than one person who can help you. Find a mentor to help you grow in broad area, like leadership. Connect with a second who can guide you on a deeper dive to learning a specific skill, like machine learning or presentation skills. Consider a paid coach, if you can. Even a few good hours with a strong professional coach will make an impact. Here’s a thought: Ask your manager if you can fund your coaching investment with company dollars. Who knows, the answer may be “yes”!

Find a podcast.

Podcasts are your chance to learn directly from the experts — people you wouldn’t otherwise cross paths with. In his book “Great By Choice”, Jim Collins calls this “who luck,” the idea of being lucky enough to cross paths with people who can impact your life and career. Create your own “who luck” with podcasts! Find a new podcast to broaden your mind and your skills, then make listening at priority. Maybe it’s during lunch, on your commute, on the airplane, or with your Sunday morning coffee. If you’re interested in it, chances are there’s a podcast for it.On the Spinnaker team, we listen to everything from EntreLeadership to The Tim Ferriss Show to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History.

Raise your hand.

The best professional development is doing. Take on new assignments at work, and raise your hand for hands-on experiences that stretch you. There’s tremendous value in taking risks with new challenges. If you can’t find them at work, look for volunteer opportunities that will give you the growth you seek, with exposure to new ideas and new skill areas or even just the chance to sharpen the skills you already have. 

Review and reflect.

Athletes spend time reviewing footage of their performance, taking detailed notes on what went well, what didn’t, what they can learn, what they can (and should!) repeat, and how to improve. The equivalent in the business world is a debrief. Don’t skip this important step in your own work! Debrief project successes and failures with your team. And take the time to review your own performance independently (or with your coach or mentor). The insights you gain will take your learning up a notch or twelve.


Let’s be honest, there are few truly unique problems and challenges in business. Don’t spin your wheels learning lessons others have already learned. Pick up a book to find answers that will markedly shrink your own learning curve. Plus, today’s ebooks and speed of hard-copy publishing makes learning about new ideas and emerging areas easier than ever before. I guarantee the value you gain from each book you read will be exponentially higher than that $20 cover price.

Connect the dots.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll tap into life’s synergies. Things that seem unrelated on the surface will suddenly begin to click together. Like applying the precision of woodworking to the business world. Or discovering a strategic play on the field is the solution to a specific project challenge. Or even something you read about our nation’s founding fathers that will help you improve your own team. Put it all together and be open to seeing how things connect — you’ll really amplify your own growth and professional development in the process.

At Spinnaker, our team of experts is deeply committed to next-level personal growth and professional development. To find out more about our team and our results, connect with us on LinkedIn or on our website.