5 Habits of Self-Directed Students
[I used to write content primarily aimed at students or those who worked with college students. While I don't write that kind of content anymore, there are a few gems still left here on my blog page that still ring true today. - (6/12/22)]
I've advised a lot of students over the years on various areas of personal and professional development. The students I've worked with are often in various stages of development, either just starting out in building their professional profile or far beyond many of their peers. In either case, the students who always stand out to me are the Self-Directed students. These are the hustlers, the resilient, the ones who figured out that there's more than one way to solve a problem or to get ahead. They search out solutions, they ask questions, and they keep at it.
If I had to pick some of the key habits I noted about many of these students I advised over the years it would be the following:
1) They're Proactive
While this may be a given, it's not just about the student who can read a couple chapters ahead or respond first to requests. It's also the student who learns to anticipate what any given situation will require. They do their research and come up with ways to stay ahead of the game and show initiative. The most valued member on a team isn't just the person who can do a task really well, but the one who can put themselves in the shoes of the boss or team leader and act accordingly.
2) They Show Up. They Follow Through
What good is it to be the smartest person in the room, if you're completely unreliable? Many of the most successful students I witnessed, succeeded in part by being able to be the kind of individual folks could count on. People are always happy to pass you along to their personal networks if they know you won't embarrass them by flaking out. Likewise, you miss out on opportunities you never knew existed if you're constantly perceived as being a potential liability. Instead, cultivate a reputation for showing up and following through.
3) They Ask for Help
Suffering alone, helps no one.
Admitting that you need help, shows maturity but conveys a sense of self-awareness. Knowing your own limitations and where assistance may be needed helps you grow as a person, while staying stuck can limit your potential and possibilities for growth.
4) They Learn from Disappointment
In a previous article , I discussed the lessons I learned from disappointment. There's ALWAYS something to be learned, The trick is learning to find the lesson in any situation. Disappointment often means that you at least took a chance. And the first draft of any effort is extremely necessary in getting to the next stage. Your disappointment is chock full of feedback. Additionally, don't forget to keep your apparent "loss" in perspective. While the feelings of hurt and frustration might feel incredibly crushing, you were fortunate enough to receive an opportunity to make the attempt; to give your best effort. Win or lose hopefully where you are now in your journey, is better than where you were before.
5) They Do Things That Scare Them
We've all heard the saying, "Feel the fear and do it anyway".
Most things that are new to us or untried, scare us. Putting yourself out there...scary.
Not being able to predict the outcome of a situation...scary. Persisting in an area where you've previously failed...SCARY.
Doing things outside our comfort zone will often induce feelings of fear and yes, do it anyway.
There is no guarantee for success, ever. Anything can happen at anytime that could derail your efforts. Your resistance will be working overtime to divert your efforts and return you to feelings of safety, security, and comfort. But you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. Self-Directed students do the things that scare them because they allow their goals to be bigger than their fears.
Stepping up. Being a Leader. Standing for something. ALL SCARY STUFF, but this is where the growth happens. Over time, this becomes who you are.
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