in Career Development, Improvement & Development, Leading the Self

On Personal Mastery and Commitment to Learning

In corporate setting, a lot of people depend a great deal on their employers for their own growth. When it comes to consolidating the skill-set or acquiring a new skill in their area of work, they wait for someone to come and train (read ‘spoonfeed’) them.

During a recent interview I conducted, I asked the candidate about specific/basic skills to which the candidate responded, “I never got a chance/opportunity to work on that in my current job” or “I was never given training on that”.  Such statements tell a lot about a person’s commitment to their work.

Here are a few important reminders:

  • The pursuit of personal mastery is a personal one. It is nice that your employer supports and pays for some of those trainings. But ultimately, it is your responsibility to put those lessons into practice. Your growth is about you, and it is personal.
  • It starts with commitment. Unless you are committed to learn, no learning can happen. Training doesn’t guarantee learning unless you are committed. Commitment also means that you have a deep sense of responsibility for your work and knowing that constant learning will help you do it better.
  • Initiative is important. Once the training is done, how much do you experiment with the subject? To put lessons into practice, ability to move beyond the fear and initiate is vital. You don’t need anyone’s permission to grow.
  • So is choice. As a mature professional, what career path you select, what will you study/learn, who will you learn from, where will you learn from are all important choices. Leaving these choices to someone else may be a risky affair in the long term. No one knows you as well as you do.
  • Resources are abundant. Fortunately, we are living in a world where a lot of high quality learning material can be accessed for free. Online conferences, blogs, free events, high quality technical resources, eBooks are all free. So, access to quality material is no longer a competitive advantage. What you do with them is.
  • It is worth the investment. Instead of waiting for anybody else to pay for your training, pay it yourself. It is a worthy investment, not only because you increase your value as a professional, but it also helps in building a high self esteem. Constant learning helps you remain focused, positive, optimistic and hence, happy.

W. Edwards Deming nailed it when he said:  “Learning is not compulsory – neither is survival.”

So, here are a few critical questions that we can (and should) ask ourselves periodically:

– What did I learn in past week/month/quarter/year?
– How did I evolve as a professional?
– Has my learning helped me in expanding my own capacity to contribute?

Join in the conversation: Have you encountered people who rely on their employers for their growth? What have you learned from people around you who take complete responsibility of their professional growth?

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  1. Well said Tanmay. great piece of wisdom is reflected when you say “You don’t need anyone’s permission to grow.” Life is too dull without learning new stuff . Learning and then implementing that learnt lesson ..and then seeing the change due to application of that lesson …The feeling we get is beyond description.

    • Thanks for adding your thoughts here Zafar. The feeling that you mention is what we refer to as “self-esteem”, which only breeds more confidence and hence performance.


  2. Nice read, Tanmay. It’s unfortunate how many employees feel that their growth and development is the sole responsibility of their employer when ultimately it really is theirs because they are the ones who stand to gain or lose the most by not taking an active role in the process.

    I think this is partly the reason why so many people end up in jobs they don’t like – it’s because they leave it to those in charge to define where they see their growth potential instead of making in a joint discussion of what are the needs/sense of purpose of each party and how they can collaborate in succeeding to reach both of them.

    • Thanks for adding your thoughts here, Tanveer. Most effective people I have seen were completely aware of where they stood and where they wanted to go. They had strong alignment with their skills and knew how those skills can help them contribute more.

      When people rely only on their employer for growth, they end up doing a great disservice to their own selves and hence, their organizations.


  3. Great post. I agree totally. We have to be personally committed to learning. In fact, for those who “have it,” you can’t help but seek out sources of learning. It’s a passion, a driving force withing us. What will happen with such people, however, is that if the organization does not support learning in some ways, if the organization buts tight controls that inhibits transferal of the learning to the workplace, the organization is in danger of losing good workers. So, while I agree with you basic premise, there is the other side of the coin, which is that organization, if they want to keep the kinds of people who love to learn, they have a responsibility to provide opportunities not only to learn but also to transfer that learning to the workplace.

    • Thanks Greg – you add some very important points here. Learning (and curiosity to know more) is more intrinsic to our nature.

      However, organizations (educational as well as business) need more leaders/teachers who can inspire people to learn more. It is very important to build a culture where learning is central to how organization operates and grows.

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