I’ve recently watched the 10 part documentary ‘The Last Dance’ which focuses on the life of basketball legend Michael Jordan. It was a great watch (definitely recommend it, even if you aren't a fan of basketball) and it showed insight into the life of numerous superstars and gave real perspective on Michael Jordan's motivation and drive as a professional athlete. The series talks about the highs and lows in Jordan's life, it shows his commitment to being the best and how that commitment never took a back seat even during the toughest times. Why am I telling you this? Well, the documentary got me thinking about growth and my own dedication to self-improvement, which has taken on a different dimension this year due to COVID 19 and its impact on the world. The current pandemic has created crises amongst the health and financial markets that are disrupting the lives of almost everyone on our planet. COVID-19 is forcing many of us to confront a new world that is unfamiliar, unpredictable, unexpected and uncontrollable. The rapid change has caused people to purely focus on the here and now which is completely understandable, but it’s important to also try and keep hold of personal and professional goals and motivations during this time, if possible. Before I go on, I want to acknowledge that using the current crisis as an opportunity for personal growth is something that has been forced upon us, we either sink or we swim. This blog is not intended to reduce or distract from the seriousness of the consequences many people will face due to COVID 19. However, many people are motivated by working on their personal development whether that be via education or through experience and it’s important that, even during challenging times, that doesn’t stop, you just need to manage your expectations accordingly. Progression within business is important for many employees and, even in times like this, dreams and ambitions shouldn’t need to be put on hold. Rather, they should be adjusted in line with what the new business world may look like during and following this pandemic. Many businesses will be in no position to offer that progression right now. But it is still just as important to note how you may be able to develop your skill set and knowledge during this time and understand what short term goals can replace some of the more longer term ones you originally had planned. For those on furlough, being detached from work may be causing stress and worry, others may be enjoying some ‘time out’. Either way it’s important to ask yourself how you may be able to utilise this time to set goals you never thought about before? Such as; taking up online classes, reading that book on leadership you were always keen on, volunteering, even gaining insight to a completely new skill that may be outside your professional field. Personal development can be inspired by role models in all different fields, such as Michael Jordan. People working in key/core roles may be feeling additional pressure and stress due to an increase or decrease in business demand, they may be working in a new environment, with new systems implemented purely due to lockdown. I’ve spoken to some people who are even doing a completely different role to help out. It’s important that, if possible, you try to understand how this time could provide you with an unexpected chance to grow and understand how this is impacting your professional development. You may be learning new ways to handle stress, learning how to get the most out of rapid change and even how you've adapted your leadership style to suit the ‘new norm’ such as managing remotely. Either way your personal and professional goals and ambitions should not be shelved, we need something to focus on during times of adversity. It’s healthy to be mindful on how you are growing during this time and if you feel like you are not, then reach out to someone who may be able to help and provide guidance on how to make the most out of this time. If you don’t have a personal development plan now is a good time to sit and reflect on what it is you want to achieve and how you may need to adapt to do that in these current times. Ask yourself questions on how you want to develop outside your role, what objectives can you set yourself that are achievable now rather than later. If you would like access to a development template, please email me and I can send one over. I’m writing this blog because I’ve always been passionate about development and I’ve had some times in my life where I felt lost, and focusing on my personal and professional goals gave me a much needed anchor to grasp hold of. I didn’t realise that during the last few months I have been ignoring and distancing myself from my dreams, as if I sub consciously gave up on ever achieving them. Over the last 10 years I have chased those dreams passionately, with a fierce commitment to achieve them, and I felt extremely disappointed in myself for almost letting them go - even temporarily. I now need to refocus my personal development to enable me to grow and develop in the “new, post COVID 19, business world”. This has been a difficult time, there’s no denying that but I want to make sure that when I look back on this period of my life, I know I have been present and mindful in understanding how difficulty creates opportunity.