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Mastering continuous growth for professional development

Is continuous growth the key to professional development?

In our world, change is often the only constant. Technological advancement is a rapid force that could change our world over the course of a single week. Information faces fewer boundaries as it zips across the globe at increasingly unfathomable speeds. Due to this, continuous growth and learning have become a crucial component of personal and professional development.

It serves as the bedrock for innovation and adaptability, but what exactly does continuous learning entail, and why is it more important now than ever before? 

Ajinkya Potdar, Operations Manager at Capital Placement, shares some of his insights on this topic. 

What is continuous growth?

First, let’s try defining continuous growth. In this day and age, “continuous growth” isn’t a buzzword we casually throw around; it’s a vital pillar for navigating the complexities of modern life. But what does continuous growth truly mean, and why is it more important now than ever before?

Continuous growth refers to the ongoing development and enhancement of your skills, knowledge, and capabilities. Unlike finite goals that conclude with a certificate or a promotion, continuous growth is an ever-evolving journey that embraces both personal development and professional advancement. 

It encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, from acquiring new skills and embracing new experiences to refining existing abilities and seeking out new challenges. This can be applied across all areas of your life. 

Now, let’s narrow it down a little further to focus on professional growth. 

As Indeed defines it, professional growth is “the application of new experiences and skills to positively impact your current position and career pursuits. By expanding your skills and thinking ahead, you are preparing yourself to handle more responsibilities. Investing in your professional growth shows ambition, self-awareness, humility and tenacity”. 

It’s a part of your evolution

Humans have always been driven by an innate need to grow and adapt. Historically, this drive ensured our survival, enabling us to develop new tools, master agriculture, and navigate complex social structures. Today, this evolutionary trait manifests as a necessity to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and global economies. The modern world demands that we continuously evolve, not just to survive, but to thrive.

The pace of change in today’s world is unprecedented. Several factors fuel this demand for continuous growth:

  • Fields such as information technology, healthcare, and engineering are undergoing rapid transformations due to advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and biotechnology. Professionals in these areas must stay abreast of the latest developments to remain relevant.
  • The interconnectedness of the global economy means that competition is fiercer than ever. Professionals must continuously upgrade their skills to compete on an international level.
  • The rise of the gig economy and remote work has altered traditional career paths. Flexibility and adaptability are now essential traits for success.

Approaching learning for professional growth

The first issue with approaching continuous learning is that it needn’t fit into a structured, rigid approach to work. Ajinkya believes that the rigidity with which most people approach learning and growth desperately needs more nuance.

“Right at the start, I’d like to say that there is an understanding that whenever you talk about learning and development or continuous learning in this matter, the attention goes to a formal, structured education exercise, which culminates in either a degree or a diploma or a certificate,” he explained. 

“That’s what comes to people’s minds. They think ‘I need to sign up for a course or I need to sign up with an educational institution’. That is learning, of course, but … continuous learning can be across different parameters. It can be structured and unstructured, formal and informal or on the job and off the job. But most often, based on what I’ve just shared, it always ends up with the understanding of people that it needs to be structured, it needs to be formal, and it needs to be off the job.”

Around this juncture is usually where people sign up for courses and feel pressured to “commit” to learning. 

“Those are all the aspects that come to mind when these things come in. It almost feels like an extension of school or university. That’s why then people may pursue it or not. But I want to broaden it, to bring these nuances about that it’s informal, that it’s off the job, that it can be unstructured.”

How did Ajinkya handle his personal challenge?

Ajinkya, who was previously a student of accounting, had his own share of obstacles on his journey. These obstacles culminated in his writing a novel about the very struggle he’d faced: passing one of the toughest certifications in India.

“When writing a book, did I pursue any writing course? Am I a student of literature? Did I do anything formally structured on the job related to writing the book? The answer is no. I had an idea. I wrote the book. I had someone review it in terms of how it sounds to a reader. When it felt all right, I continued writing it,” he said. “Towards the end, when we got to the publishing stage, we just did a grammar check and published it. So, where was the part about me being a formal author?”

To complete his book, Ajinkya sourced inspiration and guidance from various places. “I tapped into the informal bits, unstructured bits, and the conversations I was having with some senior accountants about how they felt about the accounting journey. I tapped into what I saw when I was working in my consulting organisation with fellow accountants on how they felt, what their mood was when they didn’t clear the exam, and when they had to attempt it again. All of that went into my learning toolkit, which enabled me to write this book. Those were also similar pieces that enabled me to jump into my entrepreneurial journey.”

Are some fields more demanding than others?

While continuous growth is vital across all sectors, certain fields are particularly impacted by the need for ongoing development and skill enhancement:

For example, the IT industry is perhaps the most dynamic, with new programming languages, frameworks, and tools emerging regularly. If we look at cybersecurity, professionals in this field must stay updated on the latest threats and defence mechanisms. Certifications like CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) require continuous education credits to maintain.

Additionally, advances in medical research, treatments, and technologies necessitate continuous growth for healthcare professionals.Physicians and nurses are required to complete continuing medical education (CME) credits to maintain their licenses. New procedures, medications, and healthcare technologies make this an ongoing necessity.  This also ensures they can provide the best possible care and stay compliant with regulations. 

With the advent of smart technologies, renewable energy sources, and advanced manufacturing techniques, engineers must continually update their skills to design and implement innovative solutions.

Even educators must engage in continuous growth to effectively teach in a world where digital literacy is as important as traditional literacy. They need to integrate new teaching methodologies and technologies into their classrooms. 

Tips to keep up with continuous growth

So, how can you keep up with the relentless demand for continuous growth? Here are a few helpful tips to guide you:

  • Leverage online learning platforms, like Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy. These types of platforms offer a wide range of courses that can help you stay updated with the latest knowledge in their fields.
  • Identify areas for improvement and set specific, achievable goals. This could involve gaining a new certification, mastering a new software, or learning a new language.
  • Join professional networks, attend conferences, and participate in workshops. Engaging with peers and experts can provide valuable insights and foster collaborative learning.
  • Don’t let a challenge be your downfall–embrace it! When life plays you, the only way to win is to play it right back.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, it remains a key to staying relevant, competitive, and fulfilled in an ever-evolving world. Whether through formal education, self-directed study, or professional networking, the commitment to lifelong growth ensures that individuals can adapt to change, drive innovation, and achieve personal and professional excellence. 

As Ajinkya summed it up, “Continuous growth doesn’t stop as you progress in your career. You need to stay updated with industry changes and continuously seek growth.”

If you’re looking to kick off your career the right way this year, book a call with us. Let’s talk about it! You can also subscribe to our newsletter for the latest career information, tips, and updates. (They’re both completely free!)

Kahless

Kahless

Kahless is a writer with a special interest in sociology. He spends much of his free time travelling, reading, writing, and stopping his cats from ripping apart everything he owns. It’s advised to bring along a strong cup of coffee (3 espresso shots minimum) when approaching him.

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