I hesitated before I answered the question. It was just a slight hesitation, but the question took me by surprise. Someone asked me how could they work on self-improvement and development on the clock. And while I answered at the time with a few tips, the on the clock part stuck with me and got me thinking.
When it comes to self-improvement and personal development, there are at least four kinds of people at work: people who don't care about improving themselves; people who only care if someone is paying them or requiring them to do it; people who want to develop skills but who get pulled under into their sea-of-busyness and rarely do; and people who are winning at working and view self-development not as a task, but as an ongoing process.
The latter are the people who understand it doesn't matter who signs their pay check; ultimately, they work for themselves. Not in the sense of being an entrepreneur, owning a business, or being self-employed. But, rather as a personal philosophy. To them, that means they're accountable to themselves for themselves, and responsible for developing themselves. Not alone, certainly, but as their own catalyst. After all, it is their life.
These winning at working people understand they can't sustain progress, accomplish key goals, or achieve what they want in work or life without self-development, ongoing learning, and constant skill sharpening. They don't wait for self-development time on the clock, hope for learning opportunities to come their way, or buy into the "I don't have time" mentality.
Instead, self-development for winning at working people is integrated into their life and starts with a lifelong learning philosophy. They invest time in themselves to enhance their skills, grow their knowledge, challenge their thinking, and try new things. They even use their failures or missteps as personal learning and improvement opportunities.
For people who are winning at working, self-development isn't just a class you take or a book you read; it's an orientation about everyday work experiences. The question they ask is: "How can I do this better today than yesterday?" These people have a never-ending self-improvement approach that's grounded in making incremental progress, over time.
People who are winning at working aren't thinking:" how can I develop on the clock," but rather, "how can I live my life's potential, maximize my talents, contribute to the greater good, or make a difference." They understand, in the big scheme of things, that the clock we all work under is the one called our life, and whatever time we invest in self-improvement is on that clock. If you want to be winning at working, make sure you're on the right clock.