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When did you last invest in yourself?

This is a question one of us found ourselves asking a client recently. Unhappy at work, he started to compare himself to his peers and felt “less than”. It was when he started to lament the lack of leadership development he’d been given that the question was posed. His first response was to describe the energy he had put into his role, he had been goal-oriented on-the-job, and worked hard to produce great results in whatever he was doing. His underlying assumption? That if he worked hard, he would be given opportunities and tomorrow would take care of itself. Yet he was unhappy with what tomorrow had brought him.

The question was repeated with emphasis “..and when did you last invest in yourself?” It was like a bolt from the blue.

What’s your own concept of how development works?

·      For many, the metaphor is that we start as empty vessels and others pour their expertise upon us so that we can fill up with learning. We are reliant on the providers for our expertise

·      For some, it might be like going shopping to fill up the fridge. Then we take and use what we choose and replenish what is useful to us. We are reliant on the suppliers for our possibilities

·      For others, the metaphor could be the snowball, that we start a small core and gather layers of learning as we go forward. What is most recent is on the outside and gets presented and used first. We reflect the latest thinking and pass it on without being unduly attached to it

·      Or like a bundle of sticks that we add to as we forage for our learnings. We can untie and retie our bundle how we like it, leave some behind to travel light and add more to strengthen us. We are agile and adaptive to our environment

·      For still others, it could be that our learning is like strands of wool, to be carefully selected and woven with the other strands, crafted into a practical and aesthetic fabric. We are synthesizers, transforming a new way

·      Or something else


What is your own concept?

And how much responsibility does that mean you take?

Back to that question again: When did you last invest in yourself?

I know people are unique in experience and make up and I still find it fascinating how varied people’s reactions to this question can be. Given that no-one expects a job for life any more, why would we expect anyone else to have better reasons to invest in us, than us?


What is your own reaction to the idea of investing in your own development?

·      Horrified at the idea and a little offended – employers should develop employees

·      Intrigued and reflective – after all, not all development is directly in the employer’s interest

·      Nervous about getting a return on investment

·      Open minded and wondering what direction an experiment could take you in

·      Have recently started investing in yourself

·      Self-employed / a business owner, and it’s obviously DIY or nothing

·      Whole hearted continuous learner, always seeking the best investment for the year

·      Or something else

Clearly some development does happen because you are carrying out work, especially when that work is more challenging than work you did before. Learning can be a by-product of reflecting on how we are working, and development comes in the application of that learning.

If you really want to stay competitive, however, you need to learn and develop at a rate that is at least equal to your peers. And don’t fall into the trap of only doing the same development every year. Staying abreast of updates in your field is learning, yet is not to be confused with development that will keep you competitive.

Back to that question again: When did you last invest in yourself?

If you are unable to remember when it was, or if it was a long time ago, then perhaps now is the time is right for a change of strategy? And, if not now, then when?

Written by Lorenza Clifford (with a heartfelt nod to Herminia Ibarra).

Do you want a Coach? Lorenza Clifford and Michelle Lucas are both well reputed Master Executive Coaches and have availability to work with new people. We are always happy to discuss our working approach and how we might help you on your unique path.

Do you want to join a coaching programme, to become an accredited coach yourself? On 17th May, during International Coaching Week, we are offering a free webinar: “A day in the life of a coach – what’s it really like?” The intention is to encourage an “eyes wide open” discussion forum for the growing numbers of people interested in becoming a coach. It is planned for 17th May 12:30 for forty minutes, and Michelle Lucas and Lorenza Clifford will be on hand after the call to take further questions. This is a free way to “Dip your toe in” and discover if coaching might be for you. We will share our own experiences and answer as many questions as we can. As Accredited Coach Supervisors with decades of coaching experience, we can help you get a feel for whether this route will be right for you. Book through our Events page.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Michelle and Lorenza

Posted by Greenfields Consultancy / Posted on 04 May
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