Well, I’ve been home from the 2012 ASAE conference for several days now. I always think after this conference that I need one full day to sleep and process everything I have learned and experienced at the conference, before I get back into life as usual. Between learning, networking and just having fun, the days are long and there’s a lot to digest.
This year seems like the perfect time to reflect on being a DELP scholar. I’ve been finished with the program for a full year now and many times I have sought to quantify for myself exactly how much, and in what ways, I have changed and grown from the program. And some of those things have been very clear- attaining my CAE, experiencing a wide range of learning experiences, a priceless mentorship, an instant network of colleagues in the DELP alum. group, and some very good friends. I have had a more difficult time exploring are the less tangible changes as a result of DELP. This conference, my first completely removed from being an active/graduating DELP scholar, gave me an opportunity to get some real perspective on my own growth over the past 3 years.
So, without getting too deep into it, here are a few observations:
1. There is not just one way to be successful. There are many paths, many definitions of success, and many ways to get where you want to go. I’ve always had a very narrow perspective on what it means to be successful, based on certain role models. But after the experiences of the past 3 years, my perspective has shifted. Success is such a subjective term, and I’ve learned to define it more clearly for myself.
2. We all have something to offer and something to learn. Speaking up when we have a question, or suggesting an idea in a conversation, allows us to grow into a part of a community of sharing and knowledge. Listening has always been my forte, but I have learned that speaking thoughtfully is as important as listening in being a part of an innovative community. And through the experiences I have had as a DELP scholar, I’ve built the confidence that has allowed me to speak up and be part of the community. I’ve also had a network of support and cheerleaders in my DELP colleagues that has encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and be more.
3. It’s ok to work on your own schedule- your success is not a competition. I tend to benchmark my own professional progress on folks around me. And that has caused me some stress. But as I’ve learned to take a more holistic view on life, personal success, and professional success, I have learned that all things happen in due time. Drive is good. Drive is essential. But a balanced approach in which I learn from my colleagues, but set goals for myself and benchmark against my own goals, not other people’s accomplishments, has allowed me a healthier approach to professional growth.
There’s more, but this seems like a good place to stop. The ASAE conference this year allowed me to reflect on how much not only the DELP program itself has changed me, but even more, on how the community of incredible professionals I am a part of through DELP, has pushed me grow in unexpected ways and supported me on that path.