Self Development — What’s In It for Me?

I stand for the point of view that human development is best nurtured through the right kind of relationships. Parenting, mentoring and coaching exemplify the kinds of relationships that can help shape a person and can lead to significant growth. So how does self-development fit in?

Each of us matures at his or her own pace. But whatever the pace, as we mature we assume more and more responsibility for the outcomes in our lives. By the time you’re an adult, you should assume some responsibility for your own development. Mentors and others should help you with this, but you must be an active participant in the process. For example:

A mentor can get you involved with a variety of activities and assignments to help you discover your aptitudes and interests. But you must enthusiastically engage.

A mentor can ask what you’re passionate about and can help you pursue those passions in ways that contribute to your growth. But your passions must arise from your heart. Your mentor is not responsible for installing them.

A mentor can help you ideate about various career arcs, but you must own your goals and your path.

Mentors exert a great influence on their mentees. But influence is not ownership. At some point in your journey you should assume the responsibility for your development. You should articulate a vision for your future. You should be clear about your values and goals. Mentors and others can help, but you have to own it. The final decisions are ultimately yours.

So with regard to self-development, what’s in it for you? Nothing more or less than taking charge of your future.

Using self-development tools you can gain a more profound understanding about how to align your strengths, your passions and your aspirations. After creating your own plan, you can ask your mentor or supervisor, “Will you support this plan? How can we improve it? Is there anything else I need to think about?” Then you’ll be leading your own development.

I hope you’re fortunate to have people in your life who are excited to invest in your development. In my opinion, self-development tools should not be viewed as a substitute for that sort of investment. But such tools can empower you to create more value in the relationship, not only for you, but also for your mentor.

Thanks to Beth Bruss for suggesting this topic.

And thanks for reading. As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Larry Sternberg

2 thoughts on “Self Development — What’s In It for Me?

  1. Dear Larry,
    Thank you for the post and insight. I greatly appreciate the view on mentors, and about forging your own path with regard to ‘it is your own responsibility to engage and figure out your own choices’. What do we do, as a society, when there is a lack of mentors? I, for one, have sought after and wished for a mentor in business (I say business, because I’ve found an abundance of mentors for outside hobbies). Either my search is misguided, or we are seriously lacking individuals, leaders/managers, who are will to invest in mentoring.
    So, for me, I’ve taken the bull by the horns and am near completion of an MBA… but still no mentors in sight. Undergraduate school, graduate school, decades of professional experience; and still nothing. I’ve reached out on numerous occasions, but still nothing.
    I’d love your feedback on mentors, mentees, and how to find and/or make a connection. I’ve been willing and able to learn, but nothing has surfaced.
    Thank you for the post and your time.
    Kindest regards,


    • Matt, please forgive me. Somehow I was unaware of your comment until today. This is an important topic and I assure you I’ll think to see if I have anything helpful to say. In addition, I’d be happy to speak with you. My work number is 402.489.2000. Please ask for my associate Tia (pronounced Chia) so we can set a firm appointment.
      Regards, Larry


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