Own Your Personal Development



“Let him who would move the world first move himself.” — Socrates

When it comes to your own personal development, who’s there for you?

You are.

Own your personal development.

Nobody else will do this for you, or care about your personal development as much as you.  Just like nobody can work out or exercise for you, you need to own your personal development for your own benefit in the long run.

In the book Leading with Your Legacy in Mind: Building Lasting Value in Business and in Life, Andrew Thorn shares a story to really remind us how important it is to own our personal development.

A CEO Addresses the Workforce in a Town Hall Meeting

When things are going well, it’s easy to forget how suddenly and swiftly your world can change.

Thorn writes:

“He spent some time discussion the impact of the losses the bank was experiencing, then said that in order to orchestrate a return to profitability, it would be necessary to reduce the workforce. 

Without a hint of emotion, he announced that before the end of the year, the bank would eliminate 50,000 jobs, and that a second reduction of an additional 50,000 jobs would occur before the end of the following year.  

Those in the room gasped as he continued his remarks.  He spoke for another 15 minutes about the bright future the bank could expect and then left without taking any questions.”

Two Minutes on People, Forty-Two Minutes on Profitability

It’s easy to talk about people development.   But the reality is that profitability is a powerful and driving force in a business.  If a business does not stay profitable, it dies.  So many decisions ruthlessly revolve around this driving force.

Thorn writes:

“I felt a need to be bold, especially because our topic for the day was the development of leadership behaviors.  I pointed out that they had just witnessed an event that validated the importance of their taking responsibility for their own development. 

I made sure they realized that their leader had spent 42 1/2 minutes talking about how important it was for the bank to be profitable and 2 1/2 minutes giving lip service to the idea that the employees were the organization’s most important asset. 

I wanted to make sure that they could see what was being done to this most important asset: it was being cut in half for the sake of profitability.“

When Cutting Time Comes, You’re Relevant or Your Ready

If you invest in your personal development, aside from staying up to speed in your ever-changing world, you also make it easier to land your next job.   Personal development keeps you on your toes.

Thorn writes:
”I didn’t show them this to make them feel bad or to disparage the CEO.  I just needed them to see the reality of the situation so that I could make a simple point:  when people become personally accountable for the development of the behaviors they need in order to thrive in their work experience, they create value and become an essential part of the company. 

When cutting time comes, either they find themselves with continued employment or they have multiple employment offers from other firms that are quick to offer them a job.”

Your Organization Will Not Force You to Develop Yourself

You are on your own.  While the business wants you to become your best, it’s also focused on making a profit.

Thorn writes:

“Please recognize this simple truth: your organization will not force you to develop yourself.  It is paying you to perform, and your performance is what it is going to manage. 

It has an interest in helping you become your best, but it is naturally, and rightfully, focused on making a profit

This means that most of its investments in you will be focused on the competencies you need if you are to be successful in your work assignments. 

Very little of its resources will be allocated to helping you develop the behaviors you will need if you are to be successful.  You are expected to do that on your own.  You will be employed as long as you bring value to the organization. 

If you are not known for bringing value, then you will be among the first to go when the reductions begin.”

Your Friends and Family Hope You’ll Wake Up and Figure It Out

Just because your friends and family accept you the way you are, that does not mean you don’t have plenty of room for improvement.

Thorn writes:

“It is important to point out that this isn’t just true at the office.  Your family and friends will generally accept you the way you are, but they are secretly hoping that you will grow out of your most annoying behaviors

They will accept you the way you are until they get sick of the way you are, and then they will move on, too.  They will never insist on your development.  They simply hope and dream that you will wake up and figure it out for yourself.”

“If It’s To Be, It’s Up to Me”

The best person to own and be accountable for your personal development is you.  Remind yourself that.

Thorn writes:

“The same is true in every other circle of influence in your life.  The anonymous aspiration of ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me’ must become a motivating phrase in your life. 

You must be the master of your individual development.  You muse set the course.  You are the only one who can decide each day whether or not you will add value.  It really is up to you. 

If you aren’t willing to do this, then you’d better update your resume regularly.”

When you own your personal development, work becomes your ultimate dojo and your ultimate form of self-expression.

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  1. Well done! Whatever the employment trends in which we found ourselves, I practically mock the predictable, tired, kvetching about corporate disloyalty to employees. Ultimately, as you say, it is up to us to determine how to maintain relevance & do what we need to do so. Re: your words, “When cutting time comes, either they find themselves with continued employment or they have multiple employment offers from other firms that are quick to offer them a job.”: Exactly.

    • So man things comes down to “the business of you” or “YOU inc.”

      And you are the CEO of you.

      Just that little metaphor opens up a new realm of possibility when we see ourselves as a business:
      – what’s our vision, mission, and value to drive from
      – who do we want to serve
      – what can we uniquely do that adds value to the world
      – what are the capabilities we aren’t so good at that we should outsource
      – what are the capabilities we are great at that we should spend more time in

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