Up, Down & Sideways Learning – A Growth Network

Up, Down and Sideways is the network that I’ve realised has supported my professional development on recent reflection. I thought I’d share one of the many ways in which I am driving my personal / professional development. Or at the very least scrapbook the thought process. Up, Down and Sideways simply refers to the types of people I identify being surround by who influence my professional development. I will elaborate on what each of these types means to me. 


This refers to the mentors, seniors, or people of more experience, knowledge and maturity in an area/profession. In the pursuit of developing in a profession I believe having a ‘mentor’ of sorts can provide wisdom in obtaining the knowledge, skills or the approaches that you embark on. In identifying your own personal syllabus a mentor can guide you towards good resources, avoid redundant avenues and help the efficiency of your learning process. Equally we don’t always know what we don’t know and through ambition or progress a mentor can keep your feet on the ground, or help you set an appropriate pace for development. Conversely they can become a warden for accountability, to assist prioritising or keeping current projects on track. You must respect the people that have already walked the path you’re taking who have accumulated milage and broader context. 


Refers to the people who are earlier in the process. People to whom you could help, advise or share the benefits of your experiences. Paying the favour forwards. Excuse the cliche quote but “to teach is to learn twice” and all that! To explain or make information digestible to someone will require a deeper understanding yourself and greater clarity on the topic to communicate it effectively. Any questions that arise from such exchanges will further identify what you really know or more importantly what you don’t know on the topic in question. Either way the potentially sobering realisation is helpful to all parties. 


The people that challenge you, the people you feel at a similar stage in your development or understanding on something. These are the peers that may have conflicting ideas or methods to you. Conflict is a higher risk here, can you embrace differences of opinion, learn from alternative perspectives or find solutions and middle ground. If you can find professional harmony perhaps combining your understanding can mature the question or debate faster and more completely . 

Who am I?

All three I believe, not perfectly but exactly where I want to be regardless of my progress forward. 

Andy McDonald BSc MCSP CSCS

Andy McDonald BSc MCSP CSCS

Strength & Conditioning Coach,
Inform Performance Podcast Host