A good friend of mine was lamenting the small thinking on professional development he was encountering from some of his sales representatives. The issue was an upcoming industry conference and training opportunity. All of the representatives had the opportunity to attend, but there was a twist.

Depending upon the individual’s sales performance to-date, the firm would underwrite some, all or none of the costs. This was an extraordinary opportunity to gain access to industry leaders and highly regarded training. While the incentive was designed to reward top performers for their performance,  there was no intent to exclude those interested in improving their skills. They were welcome to attend at their own cost. (Note: all of the positions offer high levels of compensation commensurate with objective achievement.)

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Several representatives who had not performed at a level that made them eligible for complete support had decided to forego the opportunity to attend this prestigious and educational event. “If the company is not paying for me to attend, I’m not going,” offered one individual.

The irony is not too hard to discern in this situation. The representatives refusing to underwrite a portion of their training are the ones that need it the most. They should be the first in line to invest. After all, they would be investing in themselves, and the upside from any improved sales performance would pay for itself many times over.

Working professionals who choose to not invest in their own skills development and knowledge expansion are effectively saying, “I know enough.” They are defaulting on their futures.” In this world of change, that view is naïve and personally destructive.

There is no stock, bond, real estate holding or lottery ticket that will ever offer you a better potential return than investing in yourself. And no, your company is not responsible for your development or your success in life.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Whether it is skills development, refreshing on technical expertise or simply refueling and recharging your creative batteries, it always pays to invest in yourself. And while not all learning experiences are created equal, all you need is one good idea or one good technique that you apply to make a profound difference in your future performance.

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