Continuous Professional Development – who would give something that is fundamental to the survival of the species such an inept and irrelevant title? It sounds like something that has come straight from an academics handbook with no consideration whatsoever as to how important it is for the individual, their career or their business.
The dictionary interpretation of CPD is ‘the means by which people maintain their knowledge and skills related to their professional lives, CPD obligations are common to most professions.’ I believe there is more than one type of CPD and must therefore make a clear distinction here. For many professions such as legal, coaching and financial, for a practitioner to remain accredited and fit to practise they must show continual attendance on courses which in the main are very specifically related to the industry they are practising in. I am a firm supporter of getting the right advice from the right person to enable the best decisions to be made for the client and CPD ensures that this person meets all the criteria and is fit to practise
So this area of CPD I am totally in favour of – my issue comes from the blurred boundaries where CPD becomes a chore or perceived as a burden because it is just a box ticking exercise for a skills matrix to be completed or a bureaucratic body to rubber stamp elsewhere.
There is another form of CPD, simply translated it becomes Continuous Personal Development – which means it is optional. Because it is optional it means you, I or we can decide to give it time and make it happen or not, we can choose to be too busy, too important or not available. However without this type of CPD we will stagnate and not move forward as a human race or as an individual human being. Take the areas of innovation or creativity for example; without a level of challenge, of stretch goals or BHAG’s the Bigger and Hairier the Better, how will we continue to develop and innovate further?
Many have said the day we stop learning is the day they put us in a box. This is so true. So why then is the pursuit of Continuous Personal Development seen as such an issue for many? In the definition highlighted above I challenge the word ‘maintain’, this word alone does not call for improvement, innovation or creativity, which therefore means that to maintain in turn means accepting the status quo. A statistic that really bears this is the Fortune 500 companies list and how that list has changed since 1955. There are now less than 65 of the original companies still in existence, over 85% have gone bankrupt, been taken over or merged with another and no longer exist in their own right.
So the challenge has to be continuous innovation, continuous personal improvement, continuous learning – never ever sit still, become complacent or become lethargic because everyone that is fighting hard and developing further will leave you way behind. Just because you are part of a professional body that requires you to complete a certain number of CPD hours per year, does not exclude you for needing CPD (Personal) to be truly successful. An objective of mine has always been to find contentment, where I am in control, calm and have the right balance between striving and playing, but even in contentment I will always be learning.