When we breathe, we breathe in and breathe out. If we choose only one or the other, the results are disastrous.
The same principle applies to professional growth and development. Whether we are programmers, statisticians, teachers, students, or writers, we benefit from taking in and giving back. We "take in" when we learn something new: a new fact, a new skill, or a new technique. We "give back" when we share one of our talents with someone else, such as when we teach, mentor, or coach. Taking in and giving back reinforce each other and lead to a virtuous cycle of learning and sharing.
The COO at SAS, Oliver Schabenberger, often speaks about "lifelong learning" and encourages employees to grow and learn. Learning prevents stagnation, fosters creativity, and benefits the company as well as the individual. SAS also encourages giving back by promoting the Data For Good movement, STEM education, community outreach, and more.
In my own career, writing this blog promotes my professional growth, as does my involvement in the SAS Support Communities. These activities require me to take in and give back. I take in when I research a blog topic, when I read a journal article, and when I search the SAS documentation. I give back when I share a programming trick, a statistical method, or an interesting mathematical tidbit.
Conferences provide a unique opportunity for taking in and giving back. This week I am at SAS Global Forum, where I will give several presentations and talk with SAS customers about their data and business problems. But I will also take in information from the other attendees. I expect to learn as much as I teach. I expect to return home full of energy and excitement from days of give and take.
Breathing in and breathing out is easy. Taking in and giving back can be harder when you face the day-to-day demands of a job and family. How do you make time in your day to learn new things? How do you share your knowledge? Are these activities valued at your company? Leave a comment.