Constant learning and self-improvement can and must be done for great life results. – Farnam Street
I saw this quote the other day, and it struck me, because sometimes I think to myself, ‘why the obsession with personal development?’ I may not be consistent with the actions I take towards growing and becoming better, but I am always reading and watching and consuming media of that sort.
And I’ve been doing this for years, since I was a pimply faced teenager. Books from the likes of John Maxwell, Myles Munroe, and Ben Carson introduced me to a world where, if you believed and worked incredibly hard and relentlessly, you could get what you want, you could live a happy life.
It seemed like the secret.
A powerful one because it actually worked. I applied the principles and I saw results. How could I not get hooked?
Sure, the ideas in those early days were simplistic. And as I grew older, I recognized greater nuance, different shades and more layers to life. From the lifestyle gurus and business leaders to the philosophers and shamans, there was much to learn.
We are all born into this life thing and there is no real manual for it. Each religion has its own texts and ideas, society and culture have their own prevailing ideologies going on. We live and make mistakes, we try, fail and succeed. Personal development seemed to offer a way to manage this complexity.
It gave a promise. That you didn’t have to be lost. You could embark on a journey to discover how to live, how to act, how to orient ourselves so that we can be happy and fulfilled. It promised that if you learned enough, and acted on what you learned enough, you would get the results you want.
That is the rabbit hole that is the billion-dollar global self-help industry. Like everything else in life, it comes with its good and its bad. Every other person is some sort of guru selling you on newsletters, and courses, magic pills and quick fixes. At the same time, millions of lives get impacted and improved from learning, from boot camps, from courses, from seminars, sermons, books and podcasts.
And that is why we do it. That is why we engage in personal development, that is why we teach and share personal development. Because each and every one of us possesses massive potential. And if you want great life results, whatever that means for you, you must take the time to learn, to evaluate and to change.
That is the promise of self-development. That it may not be easy or happen overnight, but over time, with dedication and hard work we can get what we want. We can manage our emotions better, and quiet the storm that rages within. We can improve. We can move from being couch potatoes, to running marathons. We can move from being broke to being rich. We can move from being lonely to having thriving meaningful relationships. We can go from being miserable and depressed, to be happy and joyful. We can progress from being aimless to living with a compelling vision.
Anything that isn’t growing, is dying.
It is not just a once off thing. It is a daily practice. It is a lifestyle of perpetual learning and action taking, of climbing from peak to peak. It is life well lived that is dedicated to the pursuit of something greater than itself. Wherever that journey takes you, up, down or sideways, it is the journey that matters. Because it is the journey that changes you, that encodes lessons into your DNA, into your bone and marrow.
It is what makes a life worth living.