5. Put in the hard work and seek expert advice
You have to put in the work and you have to have good materials, publishing as much as you can.
Not just in content creation. Exceptional political leaders or sports icons, when asked what their recommendation to youngsters is, they usually say something like “put in the work”, “show up”, “don’t give up”, “you always lose more than you win.”
Definitely, there are things you can do wrong like focusing on the wrong issues. But still, putting in the hours is mostly the best way to succeed.
You’ve probably heard of the 10,000-hour rule, which was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book “Outliers.” As Gladwell tells it, the rule goes like this: it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials, like playing the violin or getting as good as Bill Gates or The Beatles.
However, there’s more to the study Gladwell was referring to. For Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, the 10,000-hour rule is only the beginning of the story. In “Peak, Secrets from the New Science of Expertise” he describes his findings that it’s not just the hours that are important, it’s how you use them.
One important factor to become excellent at what you’re doing is how good your teachers are. Practice is important but you can practice for thousands of hours and still not be a master performer. Others with less practice could be better than you. They might’ve had a teacher who showed them just what to focus on at a key moment in their practice regimen.
If you’re a creating communications officer in development cooperation, you’re likely not to have a supervisor who has a communications background and therefore could teach you. That is an unfortunate reality in most development projects. Make sure that you get as much professional training from outside as possible. If need be spent time online to find tutorials and advice on your own.
If you are a supervisor of a communications officer, make sure that you provide this training when you don’t have the expertise in-house. Also, hire only people with a communications background on the job. That way you have a better chance that the incumbents are really willing to become great communicators and did not just use the position to get into your organization.
If you don’t believe that it’s important to hire communicators for the communications positions of your project, well then don’t expect impact from your outreach and a growth trajectory in this area.