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What thought leaders say about personal development

Today, we’re featuring another installment in our ongoing ‘Quotes From’ series, where we share insightful and inspirational quotes from leaders and industry experts from all over the world regarding a specific topic. Today’s topic revolves around the importance of continual learning and personal development.

Continual learning and personal development are some of the most important investments you’ll ever make in your career. Such investments allow you to stay abreast of industry trends, sharpen your skills, hone your craft, up-level your expertise, and further build out your own personal toolbox of knowledge and talents. Whether you attend conferences or workshops throughout the year, hire a high-level coach to meet with regularly, or participate in masterminds with other professionals, developing yourself with focused intent can reap a wealth of benefits.

Let’s see what some of the most respected thought leaders and experts have said about continual learning and personal development:

The single most important investment we can ever make in life is investment in ourselves.  We are the instruments of our own performance and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw. (Stephen Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)


In a discussion of lifelong learning in his book Leading Change, John Kotter contrasts two people who are roughly equal in talent and skill and asks how much difference a relatively small learning differential will make over a period of time. He offers this example: If Fran is learning at a rate of 6% per year and Janice is learning at a rate of 1% per year, the difference appears to be quite insignificant (5%). However, for Fran and Janice, the difference between a 5% and a 1% growth rate over twenty years is huge. If they each have 100 units of career-related capability at age thirty, twenty years later, Janice will have 122 units, while Fran will have 321. Peers at age thirty, the two will be in totally different leagues at age fifty. (John Kotter, Business and Management Thought Leader & Harvard Profressor)


The only person over whom you have direct and immediate control is yourself. So, the greatest asset to constantly develop, preserve and enhance are your own capabilities. And no one can do it for you. You have to do it for yourself. It is the single greatest investment you can make because it leverages everything else. (Stephen Covey, Author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)


An organization’s capacity to improve existing skills and learn new ones is the most defensible competitive advantage of all.  (Hamel & Prahalad)


The rate of learning by individuals, teams and the company as a whole must meet or exceed the pace of change in the external environment. (Michelle Darling, VP of HR, CIBC)


The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage. (Arie de Geus, Head of Planning, Royal Dutch/Shell)


People are the only long-term competitive advantage and lifelong learning is the only way to fully develop that advantage. (Richard Teerlink, CEO, Harley Davidson)


Any company that’s going to make it in the 90s and beyond has got to find a way to engage the mind of every single employee. If you’re not thinking all the time about making every person more valuable, you don’t have a chance. (Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric)


In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve. (Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon)


In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. (Abraham Maslow, American psychologist)

Are you setting aside devoted time toward continual learning or personal development? With the internet, it’s easier than ever to access free trainings and other resources. In fact, in this blog, we share a list of some of the best places online where professionals can sharpen their skills and develop themselves — for free!

In the mean time, make sure you check out our resources page by clicking here, where you’ll be able to find all kinds of free content that will help you in your personal development journey. You might also want to consider joining The Shaping Change Inner Circle, which is our exclusive membership network for leaders. Think of it as a mastermind where you receive power-packed training each month and access to a digital library with all our archived training as well. Learn more here.

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