Are Personal & Professional Growth Separate?

Are Personal & Professional Growth Separate?

You probably know we’re big on both personal and professional growth — but is there a connection? Can you develop and grow personally while remaining stagnant professionally, and vice versa? Or will growing in one area inevitably lead to growth in the other? Our two cents:

Wherever you focus your time, effort, and energy is where you’ll experience growth. But in our experience, when you care enough to put in the time and work to develop yourself— whether personally or professionally — it’s likely to bleed over into other areas of your life. Why do we say that?Hand drawn watercolor trees

When we start reflecting on ourselves, we’re inclined to take a comprehensive approach to growth to some degree, even if our initial intention to grow was personal OR professional. Inevitably, the two affect and influence each other, for better or for worse. Think about it: if you’re missing sleep or having troubles at home, your productivity and focus at work is likely to suffer. When you hate your job and you spend your day answering stupid questions or dealing with incompetency, you’re more likely go home unhappy and extend less patience and grace to your family than you would otherwise.

The truth is, we don’t have a “work self” and a “home self.” Most of us can’t completely separate our personal and professional lives, as much as we’d like to. So when we work on improving one, we’ll likely see some of that good and some of that effort showing up in the other.

In a way, this should be comforting. Many of the character traits and skills that are beneficial in the professional workplace are also beneficial in the personal realm, and vice versa. Working on developing one area and reaping the benefits in both worlds is a bonus.

Let’s look at some traits and skills you might work on and how they might be beneficial, both personally and professionally:

Leadership

We all want to be better leaders. Working on leadership skills can make you more effective when leading your team at work, but it can also benefit you personally. At the very least, when you’re in a group of Indecisives and no one can decide where to go for dinner, you’ll be ready to take the lead, without looking like a bossy control-freak.

Listening

If you asked a room full of people whose listening skills could be improved upon, everyone (if they’re listening) would raise their hand. Being a better listener helps improve communication and reduces miscommunication, misunderstanding, friction, and time waste. Sounds like a useful tool at work, at home, and just about everywhere else, doesn’t it?

Communication

Would you consider yourself an effective communicator? Better question, would others consider you an effective communicator? Communication is something that, if we’re honest with ourselves, we could all be better at. By working on achieving clarity and purpose with every written and verbal engagement, listening to others and anticipating their needs and questions, and reiterating to ensure understanding, we can avoid a whole host of problems, both professionally and personally.

Patience

Life doesn’t always go the way we planned. Obstacles arise and problems pop up, but if we want to maintain our sanity, we have to learn to be patient through those times and maintain some sense of calm. Why do you think “Keep Calm & Carry On” went viral? Because we could all use a daily reminder and we all stand to improve in this area. Whether we’re waiting on a coworker to get us the information we need, standing in line at the DMV, or answering the 65th question in a row from our toddler, patience is something we could all use more of.

Problem-Solving

Good leaders, good parents, and good friends are able to creatively solve problems and find ways around or through obstacles. Developing your creative problem solving skills will help you achieve your own personal and professional goals and will make you a great asset to others on their journeys as well.

Empathy

Are you good at relating to and empathizing with others? Empathy is one of the greatest traits you can have, across the board, and working on your empathy will benefit you in a million little ways. When you have the ability to see where others are coming from and feel for their circumstances, you’ll be better at communicating with them, no matter what the situation may be. Whether you’re trying to connect with and understand the woman at the checkout, console a crying child, or resolve an inter-office conflict, empathy goes a long way.

Time-Management

Time is not a renewable resource and each of us only has so much of it. Whether we’re at work or play, in order to get everything done and maintain our sanity, we need to work on our time-management skills. As a culture, we’ve meddled heavily with multi-tasking, but the reality is, multi-tasking is not a good time-management tool. You need to plan according to your own peak periods and focus on the task (and only the task) at hand. We could all use more time, but since that’s out of the question, why not learn to maximize what you’ve got?

Are there any traits or skills that you developed personally that ended up being surprisingly beneficial to you professionally (or the other way around)? Share with us in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!

There Are Only So Many Hours In A Day: Is It Better To Be On Every Social Platform Or Just A Few?

There Are Only So Many Hours In A Day: Is It Better To Be On Every Social Platform Or Just A Few?

Staying on top of all the trends in social media is a pressure, isn’t it? And that’s just for your personal accounts. What about for your business? New platforms and social avenues seem to pop up every few months. Which ones does your competition use? Did they already sign up for the shiny new ‘Next BIG Thing’???

The fear of being left behind is very real and quite valid. Should you be on every social platform your competitors are on? Should you be trying to catch a wave on every trend?

Alarm-ClockManaging your social media accounts can be incredibly time-consuming, especially if you sign up for every platform out there. Think about it. If you put the time into creating and launching content and engaging with others on every social channel out there, you wouldn’t have time to run the very business you’re trying to promote. That’s why you have to give it some thought.

Social media channels are like shoes. Like shoes, you need to try them on to see which ones are a good fit. Some are better fits than others and you need them if you are going to make headway. Instead of trying to wear all the shoes, invest in the right ones.

The social media account that bears your business’s name but just sits there twiddling its thumbs should be abandoned. You know, the social accounts that, at one time, had your full attention, until … they didn’t? It’s better to have strong channels representing your company (and YOU) rather than idle channels drifting at sea like a derelict vessel. If it’s got your name on it but it isn’t doing much – it’s not a good advertisement for your business.

Don’t look at abandoning a social media channel as a failure. People have followed your company on multiple platforms and they will continue to follow you elsewhere – where you have frequent and engaging content. Your time and energies are best spent focusing on the channels you are most comfortable with and that show signs of forward motion (Increase in Followers + Increase in Engagement = Increase in SEO). Time is, and always will be, money. Return on investment is crucial, but the ROI of social media for business can be harder to calculate than other aspects of your business. Really put thought into which social platforms will likely give you the highest ROI.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a must for business owners as well as key employees because it allows you to connect with other businesses and network with key people in your industry. Some love LinkedIn while others feel it to be a necessary evil, but it’s just that – necessary.

Facebook

Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. So many potential clients use it, so there needs to be a presence, however light, especially since customers and clients are able to leave reviews on this platform.

Twitter & Instagram

Whether you choose to invest time into Twitter or Instagram may come down to how much you like to chat and engage versus how much you take photos of your work and surroundings. What may on the surface seem like a great deal of effort becomes less so when the brand awareness and SEO impact becomes evident. Hashtags should be used with both platforms. Tweets are indexable by Google and using your SEO keywords as searchable hashtags on Instagram posts will go a long way towards helping your online visibility.

Snapchat & YouTube

Whether you choose to invest time into Snapchat or YouTube may depend upon your target demographics and what exactly you are promoting. Snapchat works well for events, retail, and entertainment. It is presently a younger demographic than other platforms. But remember, Facebook started out with a younger base before the Baby Boomers took it over.

YouTube is a great platform for building authority because you can post instructional and informational videos, and if they’re good, you’ll get shares and subscribers. As Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all allow videos, it is kind of a no-brainer to have a connected YouTube channel/account for your business. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube before sharing elsewhere or added later. You don’t necessarily need fancy video equipment to have a successful YouTube channel either. Most camera phones provide quality video footage, and 30 to 45 seconds of footage is all you really need.

This is sounding easier, isn’t it? Remember, the authenticity of your business and your message will have a better chance of ringing true and hitting the proper marks with fewer, properly focused and tended channels. So go get social and don’t be afraid to kill the platforms you don’t use – save your energy for those you can invest in!