For most of us there is a yearly review in which you are evaluating what training and development you will take on in the next year. It is often a time in which we are both proud of our accomplishments from the prior year and resist the gaps identified. It is so much easier when our gaps are simply technical – knowledge-based gaps that will require learning new information and applying it. However, when you discover there is an area that needs development, we often feel more challenged, as development is neither as simple nor as concrete as training. It also often feels more personal.

Why is this? Neuroscience has shown that your brain constantly scans the environment for threats. It wants you to avoid uncertainty and risks. Professional reviews and feedback in which you are told that you need to develop yourself can occur to your brain like a threat, and this can make developing yourself more difficult.

Re-framing how you see development helps reduce the threat. Consider that as you take on developing yourself, you are creating a new future to live into. When you embrace this professional development gap, you have a future that YOU have created as your own, and that is way less threatening to your brain.

Developing yourself in a gap you create also fulfills an important need in your brain. Your brain responds powerfully to having a purpose. Purpose inspires you, and then your brain becomes less focused on your survival. When this happens, you can more readily utilize your highest gifts and talents. You are operating out of your executive functioning.

Now that you can see that let’s look at the difference between training and development and how to effectively accomplish them.

Training is drilling something repeatedly until it become automatic.

  • Training is employed when you are learning a new skill. You create a practice of doing the new skill over and over until you are doing it without having to think about and focus on it. You have integrated it. Training takes time and patience.


Development is about distinguishing something new and seeing a new view, often from a greater perspective. The new, wider view then allows you to operate in new ways. Development requires a different part of your brain and takes a significant amount of time before your brain can see and act in these new ways without a lot of conscious effort.

  • For development:
    • Get what it* (*whatever you are developing yourself in) is and what it is not.
    • Then, identify what it looks like to act inconsistent with it*?
      • This is like being an observer of your current actions or inactions so you can see whatever you are developing yourself in as a contrast.
    • Lastly, identify what it looks like to act consistent with it*?
    • If you notice you are not making progress- you will need to work with someone else (like a coach) who can help you explore and expose what is driving the inconsistent behavior. Discovering this allows you to move past where you seem to be stuck.
  • Next: PRACTICE.
  • I highly suggest that you create developmental goals with a committed partner and create milestones that are measurable which may include you asking that partner to tell you the growth they have seen. Also, create routine practices that alter your behavior so you will likely accomplish your developmental goal.

Be empowered and embrace your developmental gaps and watch you grow professionally!