Through innovation. Seek out new solutions. Repeatedly ask yourself, “What else?” “What are 10 more ways I could approach this?” “What are several radical things I could try here?” It doesn’t mean you do all of these things, but you explore them before proceeding.
Through past performance. Seek to identify patterns in complex situations. Find the similarities between current and past projects. Cultivate calm through meditation and other techniques. Enhance your listening skills – listen instead of simply (and immediately) reacting.
Through reflection.– explore “what-ifs” and alternative histories for projects you’ve been involved in. Regularly seek out real input. Ask, “What are three or four things I or we could have done better here?” Frame the question in specific terms, instead of simply asking, “Do you think I should have done anything differently?” But make sure the questions are still open-ended – that will encourage others to speak up.
Through risk taking. Look for “stretch assignments,” where the probability of success isn’t a given.
Avoid defending. Acknowledge your failures (perhaps from those stretch assignments) and capture the lessons you’ve learned from them.
Have a learning perspective.
Be on the lookout for teachable moments. Approach each learning experience, whether you want to be there or not, with the questions: What can I learn? What one or two things can I take away that I can use immediately? Who else would find value in this learning?
Benchmark your skills periodically.
Do it at least once a year. For those in a fast moving profession or industry every three months may be required. In other words, what’s in your work portfolio? Is it filled with skills or competencies that are up-to-date and sought after? Or, is it filled with skills which are obsolete and not very portable?
Create a learning plan.
Pinpoint specific skills and knowledge that you need to acquire or up-grade. Then identify the professional development activities that are available to you. They can include mentor relationships, special assignments at work, in-house and public seminars, professional conferences, on-line courses, university education, books, journals, blogs, etc.