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The Power of Personal Development

Last week I attended a seminar hosted by Gavin Ingham on the topic of personal development. If you have never heard of him, Gavin is one of the UK’s top public speakers and a sales training guru. I was interested to attend because personal development has been a subject that is important to me in the work that I have done for the best part of 30 years.

Personal Development: a Key Element of Self-improvement

personal development

Sadly, the whole personal development field has got itself a bad press because it has become synonymous with a happy happy, clappy clappy approach to life or that all you have to do is think positively and you will get what you are looking for. It also stands accused of giving you an emotional high but which does not deliver long-lasting results.

Now, for me, that’s a real shame because it misses out on what personal development really is about and what it can do for someone; which I will explain below.

The Growth Process

But, before I do, let me just tell you a bit about my own personal development ‘journey’ (sorry!). For me, it started back in the early 1980s, when my life was anything but successful. I put the blame for this on many people, including my parents and family, my teachers and lecturers, my managers and the government. The only ‘thing’ I didn’t blame was Switzerland, and they were neutral!

Then I had a stroke of luck. Someone explained that I actually had a part to play in my situation and in so doing introduced me to the idea of personal development. Now, I have no idea why I had such a stroke of luck. Maybe it was because I was ready to listen. Who knows?

So, in a few years, I read Stephen Covey’s classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; the subtitle of which was ‘Powerful Lessons in Personal Change’. From there I started listening to the late, great Jim Rohn and his ideas resonated with me. My life began to change.

I read a great many more books and listened to a great many cassettes and CDs. Then I heard about this thing called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP for short. I signed up to study NLP with Martin Eldon, who became a great friend and corporate trainer here at Eagle Training.

No, my journey has not brought me untold financial and material wealth. At one stage I did buy into the idea that ‘success’ of this kind would make me happy. I now know that’s not really true for me. But, I am in a much better place than I was all those years ago. I’m also in a better place because of personal development.

The Importance of Personal Development

So, why is personal development so important? Well, here are some good reasons that we share with delegates on our personal excellence programme:

  • Because the best way to grow your future is to grow yourself
  • Because the best way to grow an organisation is to grow its people
  • Because the greatest waste is the gap between what you are now and what you are truly capable of becoming

Definitions: What is self-Development?

In case you are wondering what personal development is, my mentor Jim Rohn had a great definition. It was:


“Personal development includes activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitates employability, enhance quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations.”


Jim argued that what you become is far more important than what you get. The important question for you to ask is not, “What am I getting?” Instead, he argues that you should ask, “What am I becoming?” This is because what you become directly influences what you get. Think of it this way: Most of what you have today, you have attracted by becoming the person you are today.

If you would like to know more about Jim Rohn’s ideas on personal development, this is a pretty good place for you to start: click here.  In  this article, he looks at the physical, spiritual and mental dimensions of personal development. It’s not a long article, but it’s well worth reading.

In his webinar last week Gavin Ingham proposed that personal development is a set of mental and physical structures that has you at their centre and, in particular, the degree to which you exercise control by consistently asking “What can I do about this situation?” This is what Stephen Covey would call focusing on your circle of influence rather than fixating on your circle of concern.
Borrowing from NLP, this is really all about you being a cause of the events that occur in your life rather than being a victim of their effects. I have known a great many people (including myself all those years ago) who constantly refuse to take any personal responsibility in their lives. What they don’t realise is the degree that this disempowers them.

Willpower vs Whypower: How to Make self-improvement Work for You

I never like using the C word, but obviously Christmas is getting bigger on our radar screens and who knows what that is going to be like this year! Christmas is followed by the New Year and this is when most people engage in personal development as they make their New Year’s resolutions; most of which will disappear in a puff of smoke by January 3rd. Some folks no longer make any resolutions on the basis of “I tried that before and it never worked then”.

Well, that’s absolutely true. My guess is that, for these people, any kind of personal development will not work. My reason for saying that is that they don’t understand what it’s really about. They will set themselves a resolution of losing weight as an example and then rely on this thing known as willpower; which they seem to lack.

What they really need is not willpower, it’s ‘whypower’. A big enough why will always help you through the times when your willpower is lacking. As Gavin said in his webinar last week, “If it matters enough to you, you’ll stick at it”.

I hope that this blog has been interesting for you and that you will consider the benefits of personal development. It’s never too late to start investing in yourself!

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