4 Lessons Special Projects Can Teach About Professional Development

Special projects are inescapable. There’s no doubt that throughout your career, at some point, you’ll be assigned to work on something that you weren’t prepared for or necessarily expected. In many cases you may be chugging along, progressing and growing in your career and out of the blue get a call that you’re needed for something that seems outside your area of expertise. While there will be internal debate as to whether or not you can accomplish the task at hand, here are four lessons you can apply to your professional development from the impending challenge set in front of you:

  1. Revel in the Silver Lining: It may be an unexpected shift in your daily workload and the learning curve will be extreme at times, but someone in your organization decided you were capable of completing the task even if you weren’t 100% confident. The better news is that the person who believed in you is probably your boss or your boss’s boss so take note of that, if for nothing else to give you comfort that you can do it!
  2. More Times Than Not, it’s Temporary: Being reassigned from what you enjoy doing to the unknown can be daunting. At times it will feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, but there is. Keep in mind that this is a temporary assignment and at some point, unless you absolutely fall in love with the work, you’ll get back to where you were.
  3. You’re Growing: While it may not feel like it and some concepts may be foreign depending on the nature of your reassignment, you’re growing. Your professional skill set is continuing to develop and many of the lessons you’re learning may have universal application. Additionally, you’re likely learning a new area of the business and being exposed to folks you’ve never worked with before. So keep growing your skill set and continue to build more bridges.
  4. Asking Questions is A-OK: Be confident, make decisions but also allow yourself to be vulnerable. You’ll grasp the concept or work of the project quicker than you may expect so give yourself some credit. It’s also okay to ask for guidance but don’t approach situations unprepared. If you don’t know how to proceed in a certain situation, think it through, prepare recommendations then talk to the necessary folks to come to an amicable solution. Showing that you can think critically and are flexible in the outcome is what collaboration is all about.

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