Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

In the past three days, I’ve spent a lot of time in webinars and watching videos for both professional and personal development. As a professor, it’s a requirement that I complete a certain number of hours of professional development in order to stay fresh on my subject matter and best practices for the industry I work in. I’ve always kind of looked at it as a pain, and I usually scramble to complete it each quarter. My professional development for both of the schools I teach for is due next week.

As a fitness coach, I’m also encouraged to do personal development – this is for the purpose of personal growth, which enables me to connect with the people whom I coach more comprehensively and purposefully. So, in the last few days, I’ve had to do a lot of “behind the scenes” work to make myself better in my roles as an educator and as a coach. It’s been time consuming and laborious because of the amount of note taking I have done, but it’s also been immensely humbling as I can feel myself turning over a new leaf.

Life is very much about perspective. We can view situations in a number of different ways to lead to a variety of different outcomes. For some, a flat tire on the way to work can be a huge day breaker – they will allow this incident to set the tone for the remaining 16 hours of their day. For others, it’s an inconvenience, but nothing to cry about. And for others still, it’s seen as a nice excuse to grab a cup of coffee and head into work later that morning. Each of these different outlooks comes from a different approach. The way you choose to approach a situation will directly affect your experience. Some people approach work or certain relationships with a bad attitude, so it’s no surprise that they have a poor experience. While taking a positive approach to situations doesn’t give way to utopian dreams, it certainly makes the experience easier rather than more difficult.

I’ve had to check myself recently, because I wasn’t taking the proper approach to all aspects of my life. Lately, I’ve been working hard at making repairs in my marriage by communicating more positively and expressively to my spouse who in turn has reciprocated. Who doesn’t love sharing positive communication with their spouse? I’ve also been on a soul-searching journey to figure out just what my future will be as a career woman, a mother, a creative soul – as a person. While these areas seemed to be blossoming in my life, my professional experience was tepid and lackluster. Because of the person I am, I don’t like to just half-ass or phone it in on things that define me. The day I start half-ass parenting (and not just “I had a long day so let me microwave dinner” parenting, but blatant, “I’m going to cut major corners as a standard” parenting), half-ass spousing (which I was doing for the latter half of 2014, and I’ve since stopped because it was selfish and hurtful) half-ass teaching, half-ass friending, half-ass LIVING – the day I start doing any of that is the day I need to just withdraw altogether. Half-ass teachers do not inspire. Half-ass marriages don’t work. Why have friends if you’re going to half-ass it? Why work a job if you’re not going to give it your all?

I have been half-assing my job as a professor, maybe not in my on-ground position, but definitely in my online position. I think I made an unfair comparison to what IU would be like by expecting CCSD standards, which are impossible to expect. It’s like biting into a strawberry but wanting it to taste like a peach. It’s not going to happen! And as a result of my unrealistic expectations and subsequent disappointment, I had grown to resent my job and bosses. I became accustomed to doing the bare minimum and was ready to fire back at anyone who demanded otherwise. I’m ashamed to admit it, but this is who I was.

Then I devoted some time to personal development as a coach, and it dawned on me: The only way to make my situation into what I wanted it to be was to treat it like it was what I wanted it to be. I needed to treat my job as exciting and engaging, treat my boss as a woman with experience and good feedback, and look at the company as one that housed potential for me if I should choose to seek it. My bad experiences were exactly that – my bad experiences. They don’t speak for the overall school and could have easily been changed by a different approach. I had to check myself before sitting down with my boss for my annual review, and instead of throwing my hands up in the air and telling her I was fed up, I sat down and admitted to her that though I was performing well, I could do better. I had to apologize for half-assing it. She seemed surprised but also appreciative, and we both came away with lots of positive gems after this meeting. I’m so glad, because it could have easily gone sideways had I not been honest with myself.

Are you honest with yourself? Are there things that you could be doing that you aren’t because you’re making excuses or half-assing it? I believe the purpose for development on any job is to make us into better people to fill our roles. Yeah, the webinars and seminars are time consuming. Some cost money and require travel and we’d much rather be at home with our loved ones or doing the things we enjoy. However, nobody becomes great by simply staying where they are. Self-actualization is an ongoing process over the course of our entire lives, and it can only happen when we look at ourselves honestly and decide to make improvements in the areas we are falling short in. If you’re someone who thinks you don’t need professional or personal development I ask you this: Are you CEO of the company you work for? Are you financially set for the rest of your life? Is your body perfect? Are your relationships perfect? Have you learned all there is to know in your industry?

Nobody can answer yes to all of those questions, which is why personal and professional development is for everyone. Yes, even you.

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