Before we begin, let me say that I use the term "personal development" very loosely. Anything that we are doing in life that helps us to grow personally, is personal development. So, taking a new cooking class is personal development . . . Deciding to travel to a new country and experience the native culture is committing to personal development . . . Even if all we're doing is trying out a new Church, we can apply the steps listed here to help us give it everything we've got.
This is a follow-up article to "Three Critical Steps to Starting a Personal Development Program RIGHT". Now, let's talk about what it takes to actually go through the process of a personal development program - successfully.
What happens if we exercise like crazy for two months and then stop? What happens to a business that gives itself three months to become profitable? It doesn't matter how good the exercise program was or how good the business idea was - the secret to success in every area of life is consistency.
So how do we know when to give-up? Maybe we were committed, passionate, and flexible - all the great characteristics we know - and it still isn't working. What do we do then? Where do we draw the line? The first thing to do is to ask ourselves, were we truly being consistent? Or, were we being "discretionary"? Let's be brutally honest with ourselves.
I do about an hour's worth of morning rituals (meditations, visualizations, exercises) everyday. I usually wake up at 6:30 AM in order to give myself enough time to do these rituals and start my day. One day, I had an early breakfast meeting to attend, requiring me to wake up at 4:00 AM in order to complete my rituals. One of my friends said to me: "You're getting up at 4:00 AM?? Why not make an exception since this is a unique occurrence." I responded, "Unique occurrences seem to happen more often than we'd like to admit. If I make an exception this time, I'm training my mind to think that exceptions are OK. I want to train my mind to be consistent. And this is the first test in being consistent." Exceptions kill consistency. Exceptions are euphemisms for excuses.
As important as consistency is, we won't be perfect. We're all human and we're going to fall short of our potential and some of our goals. Let's not dwell on what we've missed, instead, let's acknowledge what we've gained. Anthony Robbins says "Sometimes we think we're losing the game of life when we're really winning, simply because we're not keeping score." It's easy to lose perspective and to forget where we've come from. It's important to take a step back and to acknowledge ourselves for what we have accomplished.
Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and my business success (can you believe it?). Then I think. Three Publications, CD with Chicken Soup Co-Author, 1000+ subscribers in fifteen countries, and record sales at Canada's largest book retailer - not bad for fourteen months in business. :)
Take the time to acknowledge yourself. If your life is worth living, it's worth recording. If you haven't written in a journal in a long time, maybe the first thing to do is to list all the things you've done in your life. Don't just make it like a resume; make sure to include the lives you've touched over the years and the difference you have made for your family, friends, and co-workers. Think of how you've changed in your values, your beliefs, and your attitudes. Then, most importantly, read it back to yourself and smile. :)
It still isn't happening!!! What do we do? In our fast-paced culture, people seem to want miracles in minutes. I know I'm guilty of this sometimes. You might be thinking, "Wait a minute - what about all these programs that claim to change people over a weekend?" Well, that's true. In fact Tony Robbins says "Change happens in an instant." So what we need to do here is define what "change" is.
There's internal change, and there's external change. Internal change has to deal with mentality, attitude, insight, perspective, desire, motivation, values, beliefs, etc. External change deals with the results we're after like relationships, finances, vitality. Internal change causes external change. Internal change happens in an instant (when the student is ready). That's why some people who attend life-changing seminars have their lives consequently go in a noticeable new direction. They look different, they feel different. They have a new energy and a refueled passion about life. These are examples of internal change. How about the external change? When do the attendees see tangible differences in their lifestyle? When will passive acquaintances notice the difference in these people? Sometimes the external change comes quickly. Sometimes, it doesn't. That's life.
And when external change doesn't come quickly, we need to exercise patience. Giving up is not the answer. Having faith and continuing to be consistent in our plans will eventually yield results.
Let's talk with other people about some of the new insights, distinctions, and knowledge we've been learning. This helps us to conceptualize and understand information at a much deeper level. When we are articulating a concept or idea to someone else, our brain tends to believe it and apply it more effectively and more consistently. In the movie "Training Day" we heard a phrase repeated many times: "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." This is why it's important not only to learn, but then to teach what we've learned to others. This ensures our ability to prove what we know.
You don't have to be a professional speaker or an accomplished author to be able to share your experiences. The operative word in step number four is "learning" not "learned." Before I made my passion of personal development into my career, I was talking to people about it for thirteen years. And I think that's what had helped me to apply the teachings in my own life - and that's what helps me to apply it today. By sharing the education with others, I also get valuable feedback and perspectives from a variety of people with varying personalities and opinions.
We don't just learn from tapes and books - we automatically learn from the people we associate with, whether consciously or unconsciously. Remember that poor minds gossip and talk negatively about other people. Most people talk about places, events, news and activities. Visionaries talk about concepts and ideas.
Personal development programs transform peoples lives. Sometimes, it depends on the program; sometimes it depends on the person's ability to pick a program that is right for them. More often than not, it depends on the person's commitment to understand and follow these four cornerstones. Personal development programs DO transform peoples lives. Personal development can transform your life, too.
(And if you're reading my book, "A Dictionary of Distinctions", remember these four cornerstones as you flip through chapters.)
Let's love the world together...
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary