Personal Skill Development

There are a lot of ways that you can measure your personal skill set development. A few things that I have found particularly useful, include three main components:

  1. A measure in some unit of time (e.g., # per minute, day, week, month, year)
  2. Apply whatever conceptual system you subscribe to to understand the why we do what we do (e.g., Skinnerian, Relational Frame Theory, Goldiamond’s Nonlinear Approach, Kantor’s Interbehaviorism)
  3. Have a network of compassionate people with diverse skill sets and perspectives that want you to succeed and grow (i.e., they'll call you out, but support you along the way)
  4. Application checks (e.g., you using the skill in a real-world setting)

It’s been a slow transition for years, but somewhere around 50-80% of my day now consists of things that largely fall into the organizational behavior and systems analysis areas of practice. There’s weekly consults with various department heads, collaboration on development and refinement of organization-wide performance management systems, designing and developing new services and tools for the market, outside consultation – things I try not to take for granted and never realized the amount of work it took to initially obtain.

Reflecting on where I’m at, it seems that these are the strategies that proved useful, but it wasn’t an overnight transition. It took years of free work, blood and sweat (literally at times), analysis and consultation with colleagues, failure, and humbleness through the mentorship and learning process.

A recently example that I encountered just this past week was during my Sunday routine of checking various data that I collect in my life. I’ve recently found an interest in various forms of media, video being one of those components.  When I first began editing it would take me about 10-12 hours to edit a 3-5 minute video. Roughly a year later and I go into my studio, sit down for 6 hours and end up with three 5 minute videos in a (relatively) short 6 hours. That’s everything after shooting, from creating the project file to clicking publish online. It had been about a month since I looked at this particular data set, so it caught me off guard when I charted the times. It was a good reminder to keep checking in on those application checks, as they tell you so much more about your progress.

There isn't a particular tool or application that you need to understand these three things about your personal performance goals. The form couple even be pen and paper (I actually still hand chart data sets that are really interesting to me, as they force me to be more in touch with the data set). But here are a few that I'm currently into: 

For Larger Goal-setting and Project Management - Asana

For Daily Goal-setting, Habits, Self-Management - Habitica

Hope this is of some use, glad to chat with anyone that’s looking for more help –


Ryan O’Donnell, MS, BCBA

Affiliation: RYANO, LLC


Bio: Ryan O'Donnell hails from northern Nevada in the grungy, yet surprisingly classy, (and newly renovated) Reno, Nevada . He likes his climate like he likes his data: evolving, uncompromising, and progressive. He is a master of science; that is, he has a M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, however he has since grown to include many other interests, including entrepreneurship and capturing perspectives and stories through various mediums. He has used this degree to work with a lot of great people to help organizations and families in Florida and Nevada that support people with Intellectual Disabilities. Currently he leads product development and distribution for High Sierra Industries as a Learning Systems Development Specialist. His focus outside this role is on building a community of thought leaders and doers to create content that increases the transparency of behavior analytic technologies with the hopes of creating a platform that truly saves the world. His interests are all over, from artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to the theory and philosophy behind Why We Do What We Do ( In his spare time you can find him consuming social media, prepping/climbing a giant mountain, or walking around with his camera in his hand (and, occasionally, all simultaneously). Connect with him on most all social platforms via TheRyanoDotCom and let him know what drives you to pursue the Behavior Analysis vision.


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