Are You Staying Current?

May 11, 2007 on 8:28 am | In The Profession | Comments Off

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
16th U.S. President

We are presently waiting on an announcement concerning a competition we have entered. The task will be to conduct six one-day training sessions for a federal agency on ethics This is a curse we have taught many times in different forums and formats, but this one, like all the ones before it, has its own differences and client expectations. Thus, now that we have submitted the proposal we have two choices. We can simply rest on our proposal and wait for the announcement. If we win, we have 15 days to provide a final course syllabus. If we lose, then we need do nothing but focus on the next opportunity. Alternatively we could begin constructing that syllabus in accordance with the RFP guidance. If we win, we will be well on our way to meeting the first deliverable. If we loose – well perhaps we have just wasted our time. Either way, because this is pre-award, there will be no cost recovery for any of the time spent doing this

But we don’t view it that way. Certainly it will be to our advantage to be prepared to perform, but even if we do not win the competition we do not view the time as wasted. Since we teach ethics often (for one recent example, check out the presentation we did at the NCMA World Congress in Dallas in April 2007, available here), we never consider a review of our materials or the preparation of templates and content as wasted time. What this does is prepare us to teach this class or any other with related course material. We improve our content, enhance the teaching methods, improve the teacher notes, and develop new innovative ways to present the material to an adult audience. In other words, we are spending time sharpening our saw. If you are a student of Covey, you see the similarity in his seventh habit of highly successful people – Sharpen the Saw.

What have you done today to sharpen your saw? Have you signed up for a training class? Have you reviewed the most recent advance sheets related to your profession? Have you sought out a colleague to discuss a particular issue? The important thing is to do something every day. Motivational teacher Brian Tracy has observed that there are some things you must do every day – eating seven apples on Saturday night is not going to cut it! That is very insightful.

Take time today to sharpen your saw. Do the same thing tomorrow…and the next day…and the next. Never let up. Stay on top of your game.

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