When it comes to improving your skills base courses that are certificated in some way, shape or form are preferable to the rest; the reason being you can show your certificate to your boss if you’re applying for a promotion, a potential new employer if you are going for an interview or a new client if you work for yourself. We all feel more comfortable putting ourselves in the hands of an expert and those pieces of paper with your name inserted in the blank space do lend themselves to adding credibility.
Out of the huge variety of diverse and interesting courses out there, which ones should you consider and which ones should you most definitely sign up for? Well, I’m a great believer of starting with the end in mind. If your goal is to become a Company Director run a search on Google to find some job specifications for Director level roles. Look at the essential and desirable skills list; what do they say? Which are the most common requirements across the board? If you see that each one, without question, asks for an MBA then that is going to be an essential course to take. If two out of the five ask for a part-qualification in accounting then that is an option.
On a blank sheet of paper start to put different courses under your two headings; to do and to think about doing. When you next speak with your CEO ask what your Company would look for in their Directors’. Put your results on your sheet of paper. If you work for yourself and you are interested in securing new client work, either in a new market or by increasing your skills-base and knowledge in your current field, then check out the bios of some people you would aspire to be like. If your dream is to be the next Richard Branson read his biography and see where he spends his time to improve his skills. Does he have a guru that he follows; if so repeat the step of reading the biography.
When you have a list of your courses start to get all of the information you need to sign-up. Prospectus, cost, start and finish dates and the expected time commitment needed to complete each one. If you have four courses to study and three can be done an hour a week for six weeks and the fourth is three years for twelve hours per week, you might be best doing the three smaller courses before you tackle the big one. This gives you three quarters of the jigsaw and the final piece as work in progress. Two years in, you will stand more chance of being considered for that Director role than the person that is two and a half years through their first course with the other three yet to start, even though the time commitment on your part to-date has been the same.
I have found that there are so many courses out there that would take me further down my own path that I could be studying a new discipline, or the same discipline in a new way, every day of the week from now until forever. Much as I love learning and am a real lover of self-improvement I am conscious of wanting to balance this with work and life. I try and attend something once every couple of months if it is short and low time involvement and have maximum of one big thing on the go at any given time. I make sure the courses I pick complement each other and add value to my overall knowledge and skills.
While you are on your journey keep checking the current requirements for your dream role. Not every day, maybe just once a year. Run a search, call up three job specs with companies that you might like to work for and see if the essential and desirable list of qualifications and experience are still the same. Update your sheet where necessary.
Remember, a thousand mile journey starts with a single step. Start today!
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