September 16, 2012

Time to Stand and Stare

Posted in Best Practice, Professional Development, Professionalism tagged , , , at 4:48 am by Sue Hine

There may not be too many people who recognise the heading for this post as a quote from an early 20th century Welsh poet.  It is from a poem I learned early in my schooldays, lines that jaunted along in sing-song rhythm, though the theme pretty-much passed over the heads of nine and ten year-olds.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

These words are all too relevant in a Time-Poor 21st century.  We are too busy doing, so focused on tasks that we overlook that other pressure to take stock, to think about the way work and what we might do better.

Don’t just do something, stand there!

 I found this line a few years ago when reading about a ‘learning organisation’.  Managers of volunteers, (and many other professional occupations) are also ‘learning organisms’.  That is, our professional development is bound up in critical thinking, experiential learning and self-awareness – a cycle of action and reflection.

Well – Volunteering New Zealand’s on-line training programme for Managing Volunteers is a good place to start reflecting on experience.   Last week a spirited bunch of people completed another 6-week course.  They took on weekly assignments designed ‘to make you think’.  They shared their replies on-line, including a lot about themselves and how they went about managing volunteers in their organisation.  They learned from each other, and about their own skill-sets, drawing on life experience and previous employment positions.   Their feedback showed they were encouraged and heartened by their participation in the course.

That’s the value of Professional Development for you, something I keep on promoting.  (You can read more in my blogs on Professionalism.)   You see, being professional does not always mean pinning the credentials of academic qualifications on your wall.  Certificates of competency are not always the best measure of the quality of your work.  But when you take the time to think, to reflect on what you are doing and what could be tweaked to improve volunteer experience or the volunteer programme and what you might need to accomplish any change – that is the mark of a true professional who understands the importance of ongoing development.

So don’t wait till it’s time for your next performance review.  Make time now!

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

(The poem is Leisure, by W H Davies)

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