Many organisations encourage their work-force, particularly their management population to take responsibility for their own Personal Development. Some managers enthusiastically embrace this opportunity by increasing their range of reading, attendance on training programmes or seminars etc.
This is all good, however, Personal Development can be greater enhanced by creating a structured plan and not just going at it ad hoc, as many people do. We also benefit from thinking outside the box in terms of the things we do to develop ourselves and should not be restricted to attendance on programmes and book reading.
Activities that improve our self-awareness and identity are important. We also need to consider our overall employability, as well as new knowledge that might enhance our quality of life and contribute to the realisation of our dreams and aspirations.
One option that is often over looked is provided through getting a glimpse of another person’s job, ideally a job that is completely different from our own. For example attending something like a Zoo Keeper for the Day activity, offered by a range of zoos including Bristol Zoo, which opened in 1836 by the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society. Bristol Zoo is the world’s oldest provincial zoo.
This one day experience involves the novice working under the direction of a Keeper over a 9 hour period, to a very strict timetable and work plan. The day is full on, with plenty of opportunity for close up interaction with a range of different animals including Otters, Flamingos, Lemurs, Parrots, Penguins, Gecko, Butterflies and sweetest of all, in my view, the Tamarin Monkey. The novice is involved with feeding, cleaning and gaining an overview of not only the captive habitat of these beautiful creatures, but a better appreciation of what Zoo Keepers do and the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs.
Coming to the realisation that Zoo Keepers do much more than feeding and shovelling poo is quite interesting. For a start the stamina needed is immense, the knowledge they require to deal with a range of different animals is astounding, as every animal comes with a different set of handling rules, needs and precautions. As well as knowing each animal individually, Keepers need to know about the natural habitats, typical behaviours, threats in the wild and conservation activities with each of the animal groups in their care.
Understanding the pressures of someone else’s role helps us to reflect on the pressures we are under. Unless you work with animals or are in the medical field, another living creature is probably not going to suffer if you don’t pay full attention to everything you do! In Zoos attention to detail is everything.
Doing someone else’s job, just for a day may also help us to overcome our fears and to a certain extent our scope and thinking. At the Zoo, just before entering the Twilight Zone, which is virtually dark and being asked ‘how are you with Giant Jumping Rats’ certainly is a challenge. In fact in reality Giant Jumping Rats are quite cute, do not look like rats at all, apart from the tail and don’t jump, but they do nibble your wellies! Which to an office dweller is a bit threatening, particularly in the dark!
Extending our thinking and challenges ourselves to learn different things can provide an enriching and rewarding experience. One that we can carry with us into our day to day work, as well as our personal lives.