Robin Hood 2018: Keep Your Certification Up

As a career PM, I have a certification from the Project Management Institute as a "Professional Project Manager" (PMP).

This is a SERIOUS CERTIFICATION. By that I mean:

  • I had to have new and old bosses sign off on my work experience to apply
  • I needed 40 hours of training
  • It required passing a brutal 250-question exam with an estimated first time failure rate of 40-50%
  • The certification lapses unless you prove that you are keeping up with your career education over time

It was quite a bit of trouble to get, but it's worth it. Why? Because it has value. Having a PMP attached to my name increases my employability, opens new job opportunities, and improves my salary.

Considering the benefit and what I went through to get the darned thing, there is no way I will ever let it lapse. That means attending conferences, logging mentoring and reading hours, signing up for webinars, and so on.

Turns out that this is true of a whole lot of worthwhile things in this world. Are you unofficially certified as:

  • A trusted friend
  • A reliable employee
  • Wise counsel
  • A leader in your community
  • World's best Mom/Dad/Kid/Sibling/Spouse
You need to keep those certifications up. That means continuing to put in the effort those things take. But one key point -- the only certifications worth keeping up are those that provide value for you as well as for others.

You have an emergency and you need to leave work suddenly? Your certification as a reliable employee will come in handy. You need to have a serious conversation with your teen about their choices? That's going to suck no matter what, but it may suck less if you can leverage your "best parent" title. You are going through a rough time and need some support? All those folks who look to you for friendship and advice should be there for you too.

And the reverse holds true as well. Does your title as "best daughter" rely on you putting aside your own happiness for no reward? Does your "always there for his friends" pin seem less shiny when you discover your friends aren't there for you in turn? Certifications that have no value aren't going to be worth the effort to keep up with.

Now, I don't mean to get overly transactional here. When it comes to human relationships it's way more nuanced and complex. We all need to step up and help others out. But in the end, we are a network of connections that require effort to maintain.

Let's take this a step further though. Beyond your social interactions, your certifications can benefit you in other concrete ways. Your certification as "expert tinkerer" or "power couponer" can save you money. Your title of "animal whisperer" can connect you with the world of fur and feather. Your skill at "articulating clearly in writing" can change hears and minds. Your well-honed "psychic instincts" award can save your life.

Certifications are typical for things we do well. I wouldn't be able to get an advanced auto mechanic certification (nor do I want one). Similarly, I'm not going to get good at mediumship any time soon (I can hear my dead, but no way I'm hearing yours).

What are you good at? What skills can you leverage? And how can you turn those into informal or formal skills for your life? 2018 is not going to be the year to let your skills slide. Whatever you are good at you need to build on that. Consolidate your most valuable certifications and keep working on building those up. Find connections in order to apply leverage (if you have skills in writing, speaking, and presenting you can open many doors that would otherwise be closed to you -- in both the spiritual and mundane worlds). Keep learning and stay fresh. 


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