Professional development (by another name)

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By Lynda Gerty, Director of [we don't know yet!*]

Leave of absence. Professional development. 

Do those two words sound the same to you? Or are they polar opposites?

Luckily for me, at Vantage Point we believe the former.

Last fall, I was presented with an opportunity to lead a national campaign for a few months. I wasn’t looking for something new.  I was in the middle of a few important projects at Vantage Point. And yet, here was this incredible opportunity.

I decided to ask for a leave of absence.  And lo and behold – our entire organization rallied to make it possible. Our Executive Director didn’t hesitate. My colleagues were excited. Why? They were thrilled about the learning opportunity.

We brainstormed about how to creatively cover my position, and in the end one of my colleagues moved into my role for the months I was gone. A learning opportunity for her. And I knew my projects would be in good hands.

Five months later I’ve returned to Vantage Point.  All of the lessons I’ve learned will take months – possibly years – to unravel. There is no question I’ve learned how to be a better leader. I have gained new skills, built new relationships, and discovered potential opportunities. I have made many, many mistakes… and fixed some of them. I feel excited to come into the office each morning, rather than trekking over to my laptop in my pajamas.  

And those projects I was in the middle of?  Let's just say I continue to be impressed by the talented and creative people I work with.

Most of all, I am re-inspired by our mission. I more deeply understand that people are truly the most important asset of any project, organization, or issue. I have witnessed first-hand a beautiful example of our mission: a team of talented, committed and effective people in the right roles, working together in common cause – to achieve something others thought impossible.

I can’t imagine a better professional development opportunity.  Can you?

* This is what happens at Vantage Point.  I'm returning as a Director, but my exact role is under discussion.  Next week we'll examine our strategic plan, our priorities, the skills required, and the people on our team - and decide our individual roles and responsibilities going forward.  Maybe it'll be very similar to what I was doing when I left.  Maybe it'll be completely different.  How fun is that?

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