Personal Development IS Professional Development | Employee Entrepreneur

Promoting our new Personal Mastery Program, recently, people have asked us why we have gone down the "self-help" path.

What these people fail to understand is that personal development IS professional development.

Any development in the skills we use as human beings to function more effectively in the roles we take on in life...

Whether the purpose for learning these new skills is work-related or not...

They ultimately improve who we are as people by expanding how we think, act, and behave in every aspect of our life.


There are two key types of professional development:

  1. Information-based development
  2. Skills-based development

Information-based development is any professional development that is focused on learning new or additional information to support or supplement an existing skill set.

So, an accountant taking a course on new tax laws is information-based professional development.

A physiotherapist attending a training course on a new technique that will aid their patients is information-based development, as well, because they already have the underlying skill needed to effectively apply this new technique.

On the other hand...

Skills-based development is any professional development that is focused on learning or honing a new skill set.

An IT specialist who enters the world of self-employed consulting and takes a course to learn sales is skills-based professional development...

As is a person who takes a program focusing on how to improve their ability to more effectively address the challenges of life without over-reacting or shutting down.

While both types of professional development teach something new, the key difference is that information-based development is centred on what you learn...

Whereas skills-based development is centred around how one uses what is learned...i.e. actually using the new skills.

Yet, many employers (and employees) only consider information-based professional development as actual professional development.

Here is the problem with this.



Does it really matter what form your development takes?

Improvement is improvement, right?


While improving yourself somehow is better than not at all, that is where the similarities between information-based and skills-based development end.

Information-based development allows us to do our existing jobs more is like adding more water to fill up a half empty bucket...the added water allows that existing bucket to more completely fulfill its function. 

But it is still the same is simply being used more fully. 

Skills-based development activities, on the other hand, allow us to do our jobs in an entirely different way...a more effective way...and become far more successful in the process.

Skills-based development increases the size of the bucket, changes its shape to increase its efficiency, and reduces the amount of water needed overall to fulfill its function.

In fact, it is skills-based development that is likely to eliminate the need to use a bucket at all...or, at least it will for those who want to become successful in their endeavors


Information-based development is related to a specific aspect of one's professional activities and merely increases what you know.

Skills-based development can be applied across a wide variety of areas of life, both personal and professional, and improves how you use what you know.

Which is better?

Ask anyone who is considered parenting; in business; in sales; in team coaching...and they will immediately tell you that information-based development is valuable but skills-based development is INVALUABLE.

This is because there is a direct link between skills-based development and success.

BOTH personal AND professional success.

Success, as I define it, is the deliberate achievement of one's goals or desired outcomes. What these goals or desired outcomes are is highly personal to each and every person depending on their life's situation.

For me, when I was in my 20's, success meant becoming CFO of a company. In my 30's, I defined success as founding a profitable business. Now, entering my 40's, I consider "success" to mean that I can provide a high quality of life to my family, both tangibly and intangibly. 

However you define success, chances are your ability to achieve it will depend on just that...ability.

Your ability to accomplish your definition of success is directly linked to the skills you have that drive your ability.

So, anyone who finds success eluding them in some area of their life can likely trace their limited results to their limited ability...which is ultimately constrained by their existing set of skills.

Want more success? Expand your ability by increasing your skill set.

This is precisely what the most successful sales people do. This is what companies such as Amazon have done. This is what those who develop the best relationships with their teenagers do.

They develop new skills to help them increase their success in whatever situation they find themselves in.


In business, I love hearing competitors talk about their extensive use of "best practices" because this tells me that their people, even their very best people, are expected to work the same way that everyone else in the market works.

So, while they are doing what everyone else is doing, we focus on developing the skills no one else is yet using to do to our jobs better, faster, and cheaper than everyone else. 

While we are actively engaged in learning how to NOT be like everyone else.

Most businesses are wasting valuable resources to remain like everyone else.

Most people are wasting valuable time, energy, and money doing what everyone else is doing...which is fighting change so that they can remain the same.

And then they wonder why business is going down the tubes, or why their relationship with their spouse seems to be deteriorating.

The world around us is constantly changing and if we CHOOSE to NOT develop our skills...

Whether out of fear that an employee will take that skill and move to a different company or that we will fail in our attempts and look foolish to others...

We will quickly discover ourselves being left behind...

By our competitors; our spouses or partners; our colleagues; even our children.


Employers shouldn't be afraid to enrich their employees with professional development that isn't an easy, or 100%, direct line of sight to their immediate duties.

However, that being said, employees shouldn't view their development as the responsibility of their employers.

Many employees take the attitude, "if THEY want me to take this program, THEY have to pay..."


I have written a number of articles discussing the fact that all working individuals are entrepreneurs...whether we are employed by others or self-employed.

And all entrepreneurs are 100% responsible for ensuring they have the necessary skills to succeed.

In fact, if you look around at those people in your life who you consider successful, you will likely notice they have something in common...

They didn't wait for others to give them the skills they need...

Instead, they took it upon themselves to learn those skills because they recognize that additional skills in any area of life ultimately pay dividends.

It is not a coincidence that people who develop their leadership skills at work tend to communicate better with their children.

Nor is it a fluke that people who learn to meditate to cope with life's challenges have a tendency to perform better at work.

But it all starts with the decision to engage in personal and professional development...a decision each of us makes for ourselves.


No one is born able to walk

Walking is the result of developing a new skill...

And often failing many times in the process.

You are reading this article. Once upon a time, you didn't know how to read. Reading is a skill you learned that has enriched your life and aided in your success.

Skills-based development is the cornerstone of professional development AND personal development because the skills learned can be actively applied to multiple areas of life without limitation or restriction. 

So...what new skills will you learn to master your life?

 Those who are most successful in their life are those who accept full ownership and accountability over how they act and react to the world around them. Learn the skills to master your life.