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Be A Successful Innovator by Daily Flexing Your Creative Muscles

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Step two is the most important, in my opinion:

Step 2: Look for the Greatest Value

Once you've determined what types of development you could pursue within your position, you'll need to decide where to focus. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the value created by additional investment. For example, you may find it interesting to research best practices on internal communication systems, but improving communication between external customers and internal staff may produce a much higher return on investment by increasing client retention and sales. Evaluate each of your ideas in terms of the value generated for your organization. Then, decide on one or two that have the most potential to stretch your skills and have a meaningful organizational impact. (This important step will not only help you to focus but also assist you in explaining your reasoning to your boss.)

Looking for the greatest value takes practice.

I agree that step two is really important. I believe step one is also vital, simply because most people don't do it, and you have to start there. Most people spend so much time just trying to get done what is in front of their faces that they don't look up and out for chances to grow. It's the classic tendency to focus on the urgent (and seemingly important) vs. the non-urgent (and truly important) as detailed by Steven Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Step 1: Find the Growth Opportunities

Brainstorm the development opportunities that either currently fall within the scope of your role or could if you asked for them. To come up with possibilities, try these techniques:

  • Look over your job description for activities that you would love to pursue, but haven't gotten to yet.
  • Think about some of the dreams that you had for your current position before you started. What did you hope to accomplish?
  • Set up a lunch or coffee with people in similar positions, either at your company or at a different company, and ask how they invest in learning.
  • Survey your current area of influence and jot down opportunities for improvement.

Part of the challenge is finding the time to do this kind of evaluation.

It's important and helpful to spend time determining the right goals.

I'm surprised "find the growth opportunities" did not mention talking with your boss.

Hm...good point. One would hope that their boss would be in a mentoring role for you. But that's an ideal that is too often not the reality. Fortunate are those who have managers and bosses who realize that a large part of their role is to help develop the people they lead.

So if not, do we just put it on the calendar every month to re-evaluate?

It seems like everyone would benefit from finding a mentor (or mentors) who will give them honest feedback to help them grow. Here is a nice article about finding a mentor.

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