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expand your scope.

Expand your scope.

Here’s an idea: Instead of waiting for your boss to challenge you to grow, ask him or her for a new challenge. Take on a project outside your standard load. Scare yourself here. Think aspirationally. Focus not on what you’ve comfortably done in the past but what you want to accomplish in the future.

Once you’ve taken on your new project, grab every resource you possibly can to help you see it through to completion. Read books. Scour the internet. Reach out to contacts in other organizations. Do whatever you have to do to learn and grow into your expanded role.

5. Find a mentor.

Formal methods of professional development (online courses, training, etc.) are important, but there’s something unique about engaging the informal guidance of a trusted and respected mentor.

Find someone you admire, either in your organization or outside of it. Choose a leader who embodies the professional qualities you hold dear. Buy them lunch. Dissect their journey. Get to know the ins and outs of who they are and how they got to where they are. More than that, build a relationship. Process decisions with your new mentor. Learn to think like they think and ask the types of questions they ask.

You can’t put a value on this type of professional development. You can’t quantify it. But, with the help of a wise mentor, you’ll grow more in your vocation than you ever could by simply reading a book or taking a course.