Recently I was asked what advice I would give a young Bill McCoy or a new security officer just starting his professional security career. After much thought, I decided that sharing the importance of personal development was the best way to guide a new security professional to a more well-rounded and fulfilling professional security journey.
So, let's set the table.
Think about your personal development as a key building block on your professional house.
It’s a building block because your personal development consists of activities outside of your normal day-to-day, work-related responsibilities, and they’re what will allow you to build your career to the next level. It's personal because you shouldn't rely on your company to define your personal development roadmap. That is work you have to do for yourself.
Here are a few personal development activities for you to consider.
Practice Continuous Learning
- Consume security-related content
Follow security thought leaders on LinkedIn, Twitter, and listen to industry podcasts to gain valuable perspective, insight and best practices.
- Take advantage of free training
The internet is full of free training and useful content. This free content may be specific to the foundations of security or other technical skills (e.g., Excel, report writing, interviewing, creating discipline/structure and so on).
Build Your Community
- Create your circle of support
This can consist of like-minded and supportive family, friends, colleagues, supervisors, managers or professional mentors. Share your career goals with your circle, ask for their opinions and inquire how they achieved their own personal successes.
- Keep track of your personal development efforts and share your progress
It's always a good idea to share your personal learning efforts with your manager. This will help your manager better understand your professional goals and recognize your desire for a thorough understanding of the security profession.
Balance Work and Life
- Develop a hobby
Consistent focus on your work or craft is taxing. Try to consistently take time away from your work to enjoy endeavors outside of the daily work grind. This will give you a greater sense of work-life balance and prevent burnout.
- Focus on your health
Developing healthier eating habits and getting regular exercise are two of the most impactful investments you can make in yourself. After all, you will need your health to keep laser focused on your personal and professional goals.
- Study experts outside of your field by reading leadership and business culture-related books, white papers and blogs
I encourage you to look into authors such as Stephen R. Covey, Jim Collins, Peter Drucker, Brené Brown and Angie Noel, just to name a few.
I challenge you to create your own personal development roadmap with a specific end goal in mind. For me, I want to look back on a long career knowing that I learned as much as I could and made a positive impact on the lives and careers of my colleagues.
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