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The Concept of Personal Development Has a Wide Range of Applications in Achieving Our Growth Goals February 3, 2007

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development, Personal Growth Books.
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The many materials now available as useful tools make the process of self-improvement or personal growth accessible to more people.

Whether used for seeking information or guidance that might help us with the solution to a major problem, or simply to see how we might achieve one of our goals or objectives more effectively, many of us to turn to self-help materials.

The concept of self-help has been around for a long time – in fact for hundreds and hundreds of years, if not for thousands. Self-help has always been associated with bringing some sort of improvement factor into our lives.

Self-help generally falls into two basic categories:
(1) Materials designed to show us in the “material” world how to do something better or how to do something from start to finish. An example might be how to plan and grow a beautiful flower garden. Or how to get started on a particular hobby.
(2) Materials aimed at the idea of improvement or “how to”, but in the personal area or intellectual world.

Self help materials in the personal “how to” segment are now perhaps better known in the more modern terminology of self-improvement, personal development, self-development, personal growth and similar terms.

This type of developmental material can be traced back thousands of years to philosophers in the ancient civilizations who taught and wrote about ethical behavior and ideal societies. Many ancient religious texts contain a great deal of good advice on models of correct behavior.

Today, self-help or personal development materials are available as traditional books, e-books, personal attendance courses, cassettes, CDs, internet courses, teleconferences, newsletters, seminars, workshops, blogs, websites – if you can think of a medium, there are probably personal development materials available in that medium.

The list of topics covered in these materials involves virtually all of the behavioral areas of our lives where intellectual and spiritual development improvement could be of benefit, such as: reducing our fears, how to motivate ourselves, how to plan more effectively, how to solve our problems, achieving success, how to find our purpose, achieving our goals; interacting better with others, improving our social life, developing a more cheerful personality — just to name a few of the topic areas these materials cover.

If there is a problem area in life, there will be self-help or personal development material available on that topic. Personal development, next to cookbooks, is probably one of the largest sections in today’s bookstores.

As I have written before, I’m a fan of these materials and have them in various parts of the house, including some I just got from the library today. Some might say my personal development books are literally “strewn” about the house, but I prefer to think of them as simply being in “accessible” locations.

Personally, I find these materials helpful, some more so than others, probably because they addressed my particular needs at a given time in just the right way for some of the advice to sink in. I have read hundreds of books on some form or other of personal development, and sometimes I have wondered why. Did I feel inadequate in some way, did I have extraordinary worries for which I sought solutions, or is personal development simply a topic that I have a keen interest in?

The answer is a combination of factors. Like everyone else, I have encountered “side-trips” in the journey of life where everything did not go smoothly, in fact, where things at times were going quite badly. I found, and still find, that personal development materials help bring perspective and often real solutions to particular problems.

I do tend to think that those of us who buy these materials are perhaps more introspective than those who do not and that’s a good thing, because if we are struggling to “find answers” we are more likely to seek and find solutions.  Tony Robbins has said that one of the key benefits to reading books is that it gives us more reference points to view situations from. In other words, perspective.

Generally, I have found that the most effective personal development materials are those that provide some sort of action plan rather than simply making statements about the benefits of positive thinking in relation to problems. Positive thinking is essential, but positive actions are the other side of the equation and must be there if a program of personal development is to be effective. It’s the “doing” that brings the benefits.

As Alan Lakein points out in his book, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life”, “When you do something you’ve never done before, no matter how poorly it turns out, you’re on your way to doing it better the next time.”

Further reading:

There is a good summary of the concept of personal development on Wikipedia. The introduction to the article notes,

“Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. The concept is not limited to self-help but includes formal and informal activities for developing others in roles such as teacher, guide, counselor, manager, life coach or mentor. When personal development takes place in the context of institutions, it refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations.”

The Wikipedia article comments that in relation to the concept at an individual level, personal development can include a number of activities. Here are some of those cited:

improving self-awareness
improving self-knowledge
improving or learning new skills
building or renewing identity/self-esteem
developing strengths or talents
spiritual development
identifying or improving potential
enhancing the quality of life
improving health
defining and executing personal development plans
improving social abilities

The article can be found at the following url:



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