[Article] Is there any difference between personal and professional development?

Having come to the end of a 20-day NLP Practitioner training recently I’ve been reflecting on the development of the individuals as they worked through the five-month journey. It’s a big commitment – the 20 days include some weekends as well as taking time out from work. This means that most people arrive determined to get all the benefit of the training that they can.

One thing that became clear to each person at different times was that although they had originally committed to the course for the business benefits, they also stood to gain a lot personally.

Occasionally, this can be a problem for someone – usually the budget-holder! If a company pays for an employee to undertake training, the company wants to be sure of ROI, naturally. That’s easy to see for a lot of technical training, but less so for people skills.

What I’ve noticed with NLP training is that lots of people come to it because they want to understand more about other people. They want to build more productive working relationships and maybe to help when someone is struggling.  They get the tools to do that.

And so much more…

The thing that surprises a lot of people when they come on the NLP Practitioner training is just how much they learn about themselves. One HR Director told me, “I’d done practically every personality test there is, plus team profiles and inventories of strengths and styles. I thought I knew myself. And then I did NLP Practitioner training…”

In the early stages of this new awareness, sometimes the most obvious benefits are not related to work: it could be an improvement in diet or exercise, it might be a better relationship with certain family members or the resolution of a long-standing conflict. It might be a shift of mindset that leads to more personal confidence or even the end of a phobia that has limited life in some way. Why is the employer paying for this?

It seems to me, that it’s natural to practise something new in an environment where it is safe to experiment. Workplaces don’t always offer that. If you have the tools to improve relationships, you’re going to start with the ones that are closest and most important. And what happens is that those results build confidence in the tools and confidence in self.

With that extra confidence, it’s easier to take the new skills into the workplace. The approach is more assured and the results are more closely observed. So the new Practitioner has developed as a person and also developed as a professional. Is there really any difference?

My feeling is that – especially at senior level – the only way to develop professionally is to focus on personal development. Your relationships at work will never be better than your relationship with yourself…