In the last year, I’ve really been working on improving some of my skills, mainly, videos and photos. No, I’m not talking selfies and working on SnapChat. I’m talking about professional development. Even though I’m on a stage 90% of the time in my career, being on video is something else entirely! It’s hard for me to not have an audience to interact with – and that comes across on video. So, I spent the better part of 2018 working on my stage presence...on camera. Sounds funny for someone who makes a living presenting to large audiences, right? But part of my life plan is to always keep improving.  

It’s hard! It’s so much easier to sit still and stay as you are – not changing a thing. The hard part is challenging yourself to develop and rise to the next level. Change is uncomfortable. When you start going to a gym, your muscles get sore and uncomfortable. That’s because you’ve challenged them beyond what they are used to. 

Let me be the first to tell you: I do NOT LIKE sitting still for a camera. I think all the images look funny. I think my smile looks fake and frozen. I’d rather be on stage engaging with an audience – laughing and creating meaningful connections. Instead of sitting in front of a reactionless video camera, I’d rather be making memories and impacting the people listening.  

So, when my team told me I needed to do more videos, I knew I needed to work on my skill set, so I dove in. I knew it was an area where I needed to grow. Why? Because to always keep improving is important to me. How do you know where to start? For me, it was improving my online presence. For you, it might be developing better people skills or public speaking skills. Here’s some tips to push yourself into those uncomfy areas and always keep improving:  

  1. First, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are brutally honest and want to support your goals. (My team is amazing at this! They have no filter and I love that!) We all have blind spots. Whether it’s needing to stretch yourself in new media or stepping out of your comfort zone in leadership and sales – the best teams and colleagues will point you in the right direction. 
  2. Look for clues. We so often look at our failures for clues on what we need to develop further, but what about your successes? Do you find yourself gravitating toward one type of work because it’s comfortable and doesn’t have any challenges? That’s a big clue! Look at what you avoid! In a past blog I talked about a friend who hated networking but knew it was necessary so she learned how to do it the right way and painlessly. 
  3. Find a guru. When I decided I was going to work on my online presence more, I found an expert coach. That’s right, I am a coach who is going to another coach for help! I don’t know everything and it’s easy to get caught up in routine, so I went to see someone who was objective and could challenge me in the areas where I needed help the most. 
  4. Practice. Let me just tell you how un-fun some of my sessions with a photography and video coach have been. From lighting to sound to cue cards and hearing “Take number 20!” – it’s been daunting. My metaphorical muscles have been sore! But when my team told me how much better I am doing and how great the photos and videos are turning out – it was a great feeling.  

As it turns out, I’m still impacting audiences, doing what I love the most – I’m just doing it remotely when I’m on video, from a distance in some cases. Once I reframed my self-improvement and realized it’s the next natural step in my professional development, always improving becomes a lot easier!  

So, my challenge to you in the rest of 2019 and into 2020 is to find an area in your life/work that you want to improve and DO IT! Don’t wait, don’t dilly dally, just get out there and flex those muscles. You’ll be glad you did!