Avoiding the “Personal Development Trap”

This article has been a long time coming. Let me preface what is to follow, by saying that I’m a huge advocate of continually developing new skills, and an ever increasing sense of self-awareness and the like. With that being said, though, I’d like to address something that has spread like some monolithic and very hungry amoeba, engulfing any “mind” that happens to get caught in its path. I call it the “personal development trap”.

In her famous book “Thick Face, Black Heart” Chin-Ning Chu writes “A CEO cannot afford the luxury of excessive optimism, because it will lead him to failure-just as an overly optimistic general who becomes careless will underestimate his battlefield foe and lead his troops to their demise. The results can be costly.” Meanwhile, one personal development expert after another, reports that if we can just be “positive” enough, or, if we can put the forces of “The Law of Attraction” to work for us, all will be well, we will have everything we want, and live happily ever after.

I’ve been privileged to interact with CEO’s and upper level management at such companies as Honda, Boeing, and Master Card, to name a few. My experience has taught me that these very successful business people, as a rule, do not do “affirmations”, are not overly “positive” and cheerful, don’t spend time each day with their “goal planner”, and are not waiting until they have “developed” to a higher level before they DO something. I have, however, met countless people who were miserable and unhappy with their very existence, who were doing all of those things. Why were they doing them? Because that’s what they’ve been taught to do; they have been promised that doing these things will bring happiness, wealth and fulfillment. The loop is endless; the more they do them, the more they don’t work. The more they don’t work, the more frustrated they become. The more frustrated they become, the more they do them, convinced, that, they just haven’t done them enough, or hard enough yet.

One very successful man, who will remain unnamed, told me “If people will just stop trying to be something other than what they are, the world is at their fingertips. If you are greedy, then just be the most greedy person you know; acquire everything you can, so you can put it to good use for society. If you are envious or jealous of the success of others, don’t waste years trying to feel differently (and you probably never would anyway), use those feelings to fuel your competitive nature and blast you to levels of accomplishment than you could have otherwise achieved.” It rings true with the saying “Success is the sweetest revenge”.

Here’s something else you should know; a great many of the “bouncy” and “sprightly” people you know, lie about how happy and positive they are. This includes, mind you, many of the world’s most famous “positive” speakers. I have met a few who spend most of their “off stage” time, angry and semi-depressed.

Achievement has no set “rules”; I can point out, to you, and you could just as easily find them for yourself, people who have achieved great things in life, and did so while being what you would call “negative”, “lazy” and many other things that many would consider “dark”.

If you are a naturally “positive” person, then you know, as well as I do, that you don’t have to try to be positive…it just flows. Likewise, those who are naturally pessimistic don’t have to try to be pessimistic. I’ve watched one person after another burn up untold amounts of energy, trying to become a “positive” person, and fail miserably. Meanwhile, I’ve watched others embrace what and who they were, and then find a way to channel that nature and personality into achieving great things.

By the way, before you jump on the “Yeah, but even though they achieve great things, they don’t enjoy it, because they aren’t happy!” bandwagon, realize that this is simply not the case, in all situations. Again, I’ve met many “negative” people who experienced life in a far more enjoyable manner than the person who was struggling each day to be “positive” while they were secretly insecure on the inside.

I show people all of the time, how they can use their physiology, or how they can shift their body language, to quickly and easily shift their mood, or their state of mind and body. This is useful, and has a wide area of application is business and personal life alike. It’s a great skill to have. Just remember, though, people all over the world, will achieve great things this year without knowing how to do this.

Personally, I prefer to be around people who are in a “good” mood most of the time. Quite frankly, though, I avoid people who are ALWAYS chipper, bubbly, and overly positive and enthusiastic like the plague. They irritate me. I like to argue from time to time, I find my life dull unless I can get “pissed off” every now and then. And to have everyone “for” me takes the wind out of my sails quicker than anything; I literally thrive on opposition. No, it’s unlikely that you’ll find me sitting cross-legged engaged in deep “spiritual meditation”, striving to be “one with everything” My idea of “one with everything” is a cheeseburger. I have a wonderful set of tools and skills I use to disengage from unhealthy levels of “stressing” and teach those skills to others, but a world without friction is very scary to me.

What is the moral of this story? You don’t need to “develop” or “evolve”, or go to a $10,000 retreat where you can cook to death in a sweat lodge, before you can do and achieve great things. Embrace who you are, and how you are, and simply find a way to use what is already there to get the things you want to experience in life done.

By the way, if the desire of your unconscious, conscious, or both, has been to finally get everyone to like you, I would urge you to let go of that as soon as possible. Here’s the rub: the more you accomplish, and the more successful you are, the more people you will have who resent you, talk behind you r back, and dislike you. So, if you can’t deal with that, it’s much easier to just blend in and do something simple and routine, and, of course, there is nothing wrong with that; many people are simply happier this way…so let them alone, the world needs us all.

As always, I hope you have found something useful in this article, and can think from a fresh perspective about how much “work” you really need to do on yourself.

One last thing, when it comes to personal relationships, what I’ve written about becomes paramount to the outcome of the relationship. You don’t change other people, and, as a rule, people don’t change, at least in terms of their personality. So, you get what you get, and that’s what you’ve got, and what you will have from there on out.

© Copyright 2010-Vincent Harris-All Rights Reserved.

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One Comment on “Avoiding the “Personal Development Trap””

  1. Ann Jordan Says:

    That was awesome and so very true. I agree with you 100%. Great article.


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