Development Deluge: Are You Working Too Hard?

Bob (not his real name) pulled me aside after the meeting.

Another subscriber told me, “I’m going to have to stop reading your blog, it’s getting too expensive”

“Huh?… ummm… the blog is completely free,” I reminded her.

“Yes, but I’ve gone out and bought all the books you referenced.”

“You do know, I am not selling any of those right? That they are just references?

“Yes, but they all sound so good.”

“I’ve been reading your blog and all the books you talked about. I went out and got 5 mentors, all of whom are giving me feedback. I’ve been trying out new behaviors and asking for feedback on how I am doing. I’ve been thinking a lot about my development and career plans and next steps. It’s completely overwhelming.”

Hmmm…perhaps that is why Chris Brogan is inviting his readers to join him on a 3 Book Diet this year. His movement has gained traction.

I told Chris I can’t do the 3 book thing, I need great thinking to inspire my leadership and writing. Reading other people’s work is also helping me build wonderful relationships. But somewhere between 3 and everything in sight seems like the right range.

Have You Ever Been Bob?

Leaders must work on their development to grow. Most folks I know don’t work on their development enough. On the other hand too much development can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.

It’s like working on a marriage. Sometimes you need to talk about stuff. But sometimes, you just need to go throw a frisbee.

Back to Bob, and so I asked him, “what if you just stopped?”

His shoulders relaxed. I am pretty sure he started to breathe again.

“Development work takes time to steep. What if you just steeped in all this for a while?”

Bob is steeping now. That seems to be working well. The truth is, he seems to be growing more than ever.

What’s the “Right” Amount of Development

It depends.

Development should…

  • expose you to new perspectives
  • challenge you to try new behaviors
  • feel a bit uncomfortable
  • involve feedback from others
  • ????

Development should not…

  • feel completely overwhelming
  • involve trying too many new behaviors all at once
  • require constant feedback 
  • ????

What about you? Have you ever suffered from a development deluge? What happened? How did you steep?

Posted in Career & Learning and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Been there. For me, the problem was I wanted to be working on development of myself, my marriage, my parenting and in my workplace. I want to grow everywhere in my life. So, I was trying to attack each area with it’s own book, mentor, blogs, podcasts, etc.

    The thing is, as far as leadership…what works in one area will apply to the others. So, I’ve cut my reading list to one book at a time. I’m more selective with the podcast I listen to. And, after each new lesson I learn I ask…how does this apply to my personal development? marriage? parenting? workplace? This is also the driving force and focus behind the blog I’m launching in January, It’s based on Whole Life Leadership.

    I think it’s important to look for lessons everywhere and discover their implications for every part of you.

  2. Eric, Thank you so much for adding to the conversation. You raise a great point. There is much to integration and improving the moving parts concurrently. That can be so important. Without that focus, working on one part of our lives could actually cause the other parts to be out of balance. I clicked on your link… I am excited and intrigued to read you blog when it launches.

    • Thanks Karin. I like how you used integration to describe this. Your right. Being a great workplace leader isn’t worth it if my wife or children are asked to sacrifice me along the way.

      As a camp director, my summer hours are intense. Morning staff meeting at 7 am and I say good night to the last campers at midnight and head home. Staying connected to family takes intentionality. Just one thing we do is play boardgames via text message. For example. My wife and I each keep a Battleship game hidden. Hers at home, mine in my office. I’ll text, “B2” and get “Miss, C5” in reply. In that moment, I know she was thinking of me…it’s nice. And I it helps me take a pause and think about my wife. Besides, anyone can run the camp run…but I’m the only husband to my wife and father to our children. I can’t be replaced there.

      Thanks for your interest in my blog. I’m excited to get it launched. Also, I really enjoyed your Saturday series on Leadership with Children.

  3. I like the idea of committing to reading only three books for the next year. I purchase at least a dozen books a year and rarely finish all of them. I swim from one book to the other depending on my interest that day.

  4. I’ve been waiting for this one! As you know, this hits home for me; especially even when we’re “steeping” we’re still growing. Development never really stops; but what I learned here is that it is really up to us to determine how we apply the development in our lives and at one point or another I think we’ve all been Bob.

  5. I think the right amount of development brings inspiration and insight that there is a better way, like you said a new perspective, after that, its about doing a little every day, small steps that lead to big changes over a period of time . Wisdom teaches us that its not how much we’re doing it’s about how effective we’re being!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.