No one wants to be deemed irrelevant. Yet, as a concept, it seems to creep up on us when we realize that perhaps we need to tweak or make some adjustments to our area of expertise. Or, what I’ll refer to as our “game”.

You know when you are experiencing being at the top of your relevance game, and it’s a tremendous feeling. One that perhaps you wish you could bottle and tap into when you need it. However, it doesn’t work that way. So how in fact does it work? By remaining flexible and open to the fact that making adjustments, or fine tuning are necessary, not optional.

As an example, let’s consider athletes. Not your average backyard athletes, but the elite ones at the top of their “game”. They are continuously tweaking and perfecting; as close as possible, what they do well. In fact, they work at remaining relevant with their skills for as long as they possibly can. It takes dedication, focus and being open to suggestions on how to continuously improve. You need to be comfortable with constructive feedback and know how to apply it in order to ascend to the next level. Elite athletes excel at doing this.

Another category of professionals who have to maintain their relevancy are healthcare professionals. We depend on them to continue building upon their knowledge to take care of us, especially during the Corona-19 pandemic we are all living through.

A good friend of mine is a critical care nurse. Two weeks ago, she was re-training on how to use a ventilator, as she told me that there have been some aspects of this device that have changed since she was regularly using it. Literally the lives of people depend on her having relevant knowledge of how to use equipment to keep them alive.

My admiration is immense for my friend and all of the other healthcare professionals who are taking care of people, especially during this time period. We all know they are risking their lives to do this, and that they must maintain their care knowledge relevancy to do this. We count on them to do so, and fortunately they are delivering their expertise at the top of their games every day. Thank you for doing this, and for choosing to do so.  

So, what is it that allows some people to retain their relevancy, while others either consciously or unconsciously let it slip away? Determination and dedication are two of these factors, and ones we easily associate with elite athletes and healthcare professionals. Are there other ways that if your profession does not deem it necessary for you to maintain your relevancy you can do so? Naturally this is a rhetorical question, and here are some suggestions for how to remain relevant.

  • If you are in a profession which requires you to maintain licenses’, consider yourself fortunate, as you have a built-in system of checks and balances to keep you focused on remaining relevant in your profession. Make sure to keep your licenses current.
  • A number of professions refer to their craft as a “practice”. Even if your profession doesn’t apply this terminology, make sure you think about what you are doing to consciously practice your skills, especially the ones you might not be using on a regular basis.
  • Challenge yourself to keep up with the trends in your industry. Some industries trends don’t change frequently, but there are other ones which will require you to devote time each week or month to learn about the trends impacting your industry. Many of which will allow you to remain relevant in your career.
  • Invest in your learning. This doesn’t mean you need to take out your credit card to do this, but it does mean to find ways to learn more about your craft (e.g., on-line, or through talking to others in your industry) about what new things they are doing to remain relevant.
  • Consider teaching others in your industry. Look for opportunities to talk about or show others how you do your work. Make sure you consider applying a “hands-on” aspect to your learning if it is a topic which lends itself to being able to do this. Showing someone how to do something and then allowing them to mimic this is a powerful way to teach others.
  • Ask other people what they are doing to remain relevant. I guarantee you they will offer you a few “golden nuggets” of advice that will be invaluable to maintaining your relevancy.
  • Set new standards for yourself on maintaining your relevancy. Do this by looking around and finding people in your same profession or area of expertise who are at the top of their game. Then set out to see what you can do to mimic aspects of what they are doing, keeping in mind that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Now that you are armed with new ways to maintain or regain your relevancy, what are you waiting for? Go out and make your relevancy something that becomes an integral part of who you are, and how you define yourself.

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