Growing as a finance professional, means regularly challenging behaviours and mindsets to make room for new perspectives.
‘Unlearning’ is a powerful process that increases self-awareness, confidence and creative thinking.
Albert Einstein famously said that we cannot keep doing the same things over again and expecting a different result.
Challenging yourself and being open to new thinking and behaviours is essential to help you grow as a finance professional. Unlearning outdated skills, outdated and unhelpful thinking means that you will stay up-to-date with the latest practices and technology in the fast moving finance sector.
What’s there to ‘unlearn’?
Unlearning is about not holding on to the past and embracing change in order to move forward. There are a few ways you can do this:
- unlearning traditional models in favour of flexible open frameworks;
- moving away from structured task management to replace it with genuine leadership and agile thinking;
- detaching from outdated technologies to embrace cloud-based and AI technologies, and
- changing your thinking from “I can’t do this,” to “how can I achieve this?”
How do I unlearn these things?
Unlearning can be broken down into three steps: reflection, recognition and reorganisation.
To enable you to grow as a finance professional, you must first ask yourself what had made you successful in the past and want has stood in the way for you. Perhaps this is about examining the thoughts, values, behaviours that may have not served you well previously.
Consider the following:
- Were you too cautious or confrontational in the past?
- Did you focus too much on process and get bogged down in the detail?
- How did you approach your work? With optimism or did you expect the worst from situations?
- Were you fearful of change and new ways of working?
- Did you work collaboratively with your team or were you secretly competitive?
In addition to personal reflection, ask your peers or your leader for feedback on recent projects. Get them to review your past performance and provide feedback on your strengths and areas for improvement. Once you’ve done this, make time for brief sessions of reflective writing. Putting pen to paper is a powerful way to confront past behaviours in order to move forward.
With this heightened awareness and reality check on your skills and mindset, it is then important to set clear goals that relate to the specific habits or perspectives you would like to work on.
- Do you want to be more efficient with your time and personally effective? Seek coaching or a course on time management.
- Can you influence others effectively or is this an area you want to work on? Do your research! Read all there is on influence and seek opportunities to develop and express ideas in your workplace.
- Do you struggle to understand new technologies and how they impact your job and business? Get online and learn! Attend seminars, research what’s out there and how organisations will want to leverage it. Leave the doubt behind.
Most importantly, don’t dwell on past mistakes! Remember, you have the power and ability to choose who you want to be in the future.
When you make a conscious effort to change your everyday behaviours, it opens you up to new opportunities and ways of thinking.
The best way to do this is to create personal goals that you want to achieve each week, and a routine to support this. Start small. Kick the simple goals, like blocking time out to prepare for a meeting or doing a quick online seminar on a new type of technology.
The next step is to develop and break down the bigger goals, like improving your presence and ability to command an audience. When you take it one step at a time, you have already unlearned the art of sitting back and being an audience member in your life. You’ve become more influential and persuasive, two vital ingredients in a successful career in finance.
It’s important to take your learning and ‘unlearning’ seriously. Keep a diary and note the actions and achievements along the way. Seek feedback about how to reorganise and renew other elements of your work and life.
Commitment to grow as a finance professional
Reflecting gives you the awareness, recognition gives you acceptance and focus and reorganisation gives you the plans and tools to develop and enhance your career as a finance professional.
Commitment to your own growth is the binding ingredient. Using this framework for personal growth will accelerate your career and help set you up for a future of success in your finance career.