Sands of time; the importance of CPD – By Steve Slessor

As surveyors we all work to deadlines, whether that be submissions of notices; applications for payments or tenders we are conditioned to focus on time. But what actually is time? Is time just a river that’s flowing in one direction? First the science bit; as we get older time just seems to ebb away; but my perception of time is different to my Wife’s and to my children’s. Time is more than just some linear mechanism of suffering consequences if we fail to meet deadlines. Our brains are super computers capable of doing so many complex things within milliseconds; but the way our brain perceives time means we are all just living a little in the past.

Let me explain what I mean by this, the way we process sounds and images takes time; for example, a balloon bursting will happen a few milliseconds prior to when we perceive it. The brain needs time to process information and put together a response to hearing a bang and seeing a pop. So what we are seeing actually happened some time ago, probably about ½ a second.

When you’re a child your constantly figuring out the world and what rules and regulations there are; as such you are forming and writing to your brain a lot of memories. So when you look back at the end of year you have a lot of memories of what you learned. When you are older and you look back on the year; you’re probably doing much the same stuff you’ve been doing for many of the previous years, and so it seems the year has gone by so quickly.

Really, the way to feel as though you’ve lived longer is to seek novelty; for example start simple by putting your watch on a different wrist or clean your teeth with a different hand. Something this simple just forces the brain into a new mode where it can’t predict exactly what will happen but instead it has to be engaged. What this means is when you go to bed you have a lot of new footage to draw upon and it feels like your life is lasting longer.

Now, back to reality – what is the connection to CPD and why do it? As a professional we all want to ensure we are at the top of our respective games. CPD is an important part of maintaining our knowledge at the forefront of industry. Can we use the same science concepts of time to reflect on a different perspective of CPD? Well, if we seek to add new knowledge then our brain will enter that new mode where it can’t predict what will happen. What that means to me is using this new knowledge to develop and challenge current ideas and thinking; looking at new opportunities.

Recently, I thought about the training that I had received, which I believed had made a significant impact on my career. The number barely reaches the first finger on my second hand. I would not be the Surveyor I am today if I did not reflect on my practice; remain open to critique and simply want to do better.

Can you recall your training over the past five years? Is this easily accessible to you, your employers, or professional institution? If your answer is a resounding “no”, we need to provide all Surveyors with a forum for making learning feasible within the working day and not something that is limited to five days a year or, for most, being left to our own devices. For many, CPD is attending a half day seminar on the NEC contract or reading about concurrent delay in a magazine article. Ask yourself, does this really give you the tools to advance your knowledge and drive your career? Does it meet the standards of your professional institution?

I undertake a lot of research in digital construction, and the amount and frequency of change is so fast that as soon as you feel you have a grasp of something; the next thing comes along – the novelty factor is at the forefront of this space at the moment. And to be honest, it has been a long 6 months for me so far, so perhaps there is some truth in the Science…

Too often CPD is seen as a box ticking exercise; perhaps it could actually wipe out the illusion of time disappearing from us! As professionals CPD is often mandated by our Professional Institutions and rightly so. When done well, CPD is a way of wrapping up everything that a Chartered body does and presenting it as a coherent package, allowing individuals to identify where they fit in terms of career development.

But ask yourself this question, as a professional do you pay lip service to CPD and is this the reason our careers seem to flash by so quickly, by not taking the opportunity to learn new things?

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