Invest in Yourself For Great Good
The responsibility for your education is not of your employer. In a pragmatic perspective, you are a product that your employer is investing in, looking for a profit.
This is, you are paid a certain amount and it is expected that your work pays off that amount and brings profit for the company.
When we pay for an app, we expect it to improve through time (bug fixes, nicer UI, move from flash to html5, etc). Imagine the app owners expecting the improvement of the app to be your responsibility. How does that sound?
If your employer understands or is interested in investing in your education, take it as a privilege. Appreciate it. You are a lucky one!
Time to perform
Working time should be performance time. No doubt that unless you are very comfortable with what you are working on, you always end up learning during work time. But note that in this case, it is a side effect and not the main point.
Think of a music band. They deal to play a concert in a festival. But they expect the festival organiser to cover their practising time and their education on some new technique - at home and on stage.
It doesn’t sound reasonable, right? The band is responsible for their practising and for their education.
When they are paid to get on stage, they got to show what they got. They got to make the invested money in them worth it.
Seize the opportunity
Chad Fowler tells that he had this colleague who would practice his piano skills in every 15 min break.
It’s not easy to make time every day. We have to deal with stress, tiredness, find time for family or other things we love and need us more than our career.
Everything is made up of very tiny atoms. You can take that analogy here. Seize every sensible bit available to give a tiny step forward. Or just be intentional and take half and hour a day. Half and hour a day mean 2.5h a week plus possible more time during the weekend. It takes few effort, and although it’s not a lot, it’s definitely better than nothing.
YAAP - You As A Product
Investing in yourself is like investing in a product. You want it to be remarkable, valued and appreciated.
You are offering your services to your employer in exchange for a payment. Your services are the product you have to offer. You should aim that you and your services get to be remarkable, valued and appreciated.
Not that you should aim that everyone praises you or the work you do. But you should make sure that what your offer satisfies the expectations and, like all great products, exceeds them.
Is there an app that you use every day, for which there are good or better alternatives, and that you don’t like?
I will risk saying that the answer is no.
Now, think of an app that you use every day, that you really enjoy and that despite there being alternatives, this one got something special that keeps you wired.
If it’s free, would you mind to pay a reasonable amount for it? If it’s paid, would you mind to pay a bit more for it?
Your aim should be to make yourself being to your employer what this app is to you.
Invest time and money. Not everyone has the same possibilities but it is at least important to understand why it’s worth to invest.
When you buy food, you might be hungry or not, but you know you need to nurture yourself. Food will help you going through your day, which means, next to other stuff, that you can do your job and get your investment back.
When you take the time to study or paying for a book or a course, you are doing the same. Learning will help you to go through your day more efficiently, giving you the skills and knowledge to do the best job you can, which means that it will make it smoother and that you pay off the investment - to your employer and yourself.
Sometimes a book of forty euros or a course seems like too much. But consider the investment. It might make the difference between a regular and a remarkable career. Simple messages and ideas can change everything.
A small investment can have a great trade-off.
Just like we enjoy your favourite systems or apps getting improved regularly by getting faster, get rid of bugs, become more user-friendly, so will the business that pays for your living appreciate having your with more skills, and so will you too.
This is not all about technical skills! Improving the way we deal with certain situations during work, about how to approach people and become a better team player are also important and I include them in all this.
If you are (still) convinced that it is your employer’s responsibility to invest in your education, and if your employer decides to do so, you start it wrong. You probably think “they finally understood!”. So, although you have someone investing in yourself - which will be good to you - you missed understanding that it should have come from you.
Now, I believe that - in general - you might want to be in a company that understands the importance in investing in you. Not because it will make it easier for you, but because it says enough about the approach and culture that you are surrounded by at work.
And it will set you free
Perhaps all of this sounds way too heavy. I honestly get that. But believe me, it’s not. You will obviously have to find a balance.
Once you find that balance, this way of approaching your career will set you free.
You will be more proactive, more enthusiast, more interested and more interesting.
It will help you doing a better job, which means that the 8h a day will feel like less.
You will feel happier. And you will more easily have the control over your career because you know what’s there, what’s coming next and what you see yourself working on.
We work in one of the most amazing and exciting fields of work! If you are taking your job like if you would as a supermarket bagger, you are missing it big time!
And at the end of the day, this is isn’t just about one individual. It is about getting as many people engaged as possible. It’s a snowball of improvement, support and bigger goals. It’s about sharing and growing together.