Your Professional Development Is Not Your Company’s Business

alt image of blackboardWhen you were young, your parents chose your teachers. It is more than likely that they sent you to a school that was chosen because it was close to your house. If you took lessons in music or sports, that decision was almost certainly based on how close you were to your teacher or coach. You might have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful teacher by chance alone. But odds are, your teachers were just okay. Finding an exceptional teacher or place to study would have been a lot of work, and it would have likely required travel.

When you attended college, you were able to choose some of your courses, and sometimes you were fortunate enough to have a great professor. Maybe you took all of her courses. But you probably took the course that allowed you to graduate with a degree in whatever it was you studied.

As an adult, your learning and your professional development is your responsibility, and the decisions as to what you will study, what you will learn, and whom you will learn from are all decisions that belong to you alone. And, they are no longer made based on your proximity to the teacher or the source.

Your Personal and Professional Development is Not Your Company’s Job

It is nice that your company provides and pays for some of your training and development. Without being critical, this is very much like your parents choosing where you will be educated and your college choosing what you will be required to learn. It’s a little paternalistic. Maybe it addresses all of the areas that you need to develop to gain real mastery in your field, in our case here, sales.

But your personal development, your growth, and your continuing education is not your company’s responsibility; it is your responsibility. If you would learn and perform at the highest level, if you seek greater mastery, you have to own the responsibility of your own development.

You Make Your Own Choices

It is simply wrong to let your company (or anyone else) dictate your professional development, your growth, and your continuing education. At some level they have your best interests at heart. Even if they care deeply about you as an employee and as a person and provide you with training and educational opportunities, it isn’t at all the same as you taking responsibility for your own growth.

If you spend any time at all reflecting on your own strengths, your own weaknesses, and your own intellectual interests, you know more than anyone what skills and attributes you need to develop. You also know where your interests lie. You know what you want for your future. And you have the vision of your bigger self.

If this economic downturn has taught us any lesson at all it is that you are responsible for yourself, first and foremost. Your company may not be in a position to help you later. You, on the other hand, must be.

Your Choices

Choose your own course of study. Choose your teachers. Choose the material. Choose the books, the websites, or the local college courses. You choose whom you will study with, and whether or not they are the teacher you can best learn from.

All of these choices are now yours, and yours alone. Or at least they should be. Don’t let your personal and professional development, especially your development as a professional salesperson, become the responsibility of someone else. It isn’t their job, and, like your parents, the reasons they have chosen your teachers and your course of study may not be giving you what is best for you.


To excel in sales (or anything else) requires the lifelong pursuit of mastery. Your personal and professional development is your responsibility. If you would be great, you will take responsibility for your development and not wait for you company to do something for you—or to you.


    1. Who is responsible for your personal and your professional development?
    1. Who is primarily responsible for developing your skills, your attributes, and your abilities as a salesperson? Why?
    1. Why is it necessary for you to make your own developmental choices? Why should you choose your own course of study?
    1. If you agree that it is your right and your responsibility, what prevents you from developing a real, concrete course of study and taking daily action on it?
  1. Would you rather have some one tell you what you have to know? Why not?

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