What is Personal Development?

When I first became interested in self growth, there were hardly any books on the subject at my local bookstore. Today, there is a large section full of personal development resources and dedicated to this most fascinating subject. However, despite this fact, when my friends discover that I run the leading personal development website  White Dove Books they will still often ask me the question, ‘what exactly is personal development?’ So, in this article, I want to provide an answer.

Let’s start off by talking about who you are and who you think you are. They are probably not the same thing. As John Wooden once said, ‘you should be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is who you really are whereas your reputation is merely what others think you are’. It’s a great quote of course, but it also says exactly who you are. The inner-person – your true self – is your character; the outer-person is your personality.

There are many ways we could define personality, but it is simply your social mask – the person most people think themselves to be. But you are much more than your personality. For each of us, therefore, there is a personal journey to be made. It is this spiritual journey to find and listen to our true self that is the essence of personal development. I confess I have not always believed that life holds a definite purpose for everyone, but it is something I have come to believe over the course of time.

With an understanding of your life-purpose, it is a natural next-step to be thinking in terms of mission and goals – in other words, how do we achieve our life-purpose? And that is what much of the material around this topic is mainly concerned with; what we might call ‘success literature’ which, according to Stephen Covey – author of the 7 Habits of Highly effective People – has been around in the USA since 1776. Interestingly, as Covey himself points out, much of the early success literature was character-based; whereas much of the more recent material is personality-based.

So there we have it: personal development is about that most interesting of subjects … you! It concerns your personal journey to discover your true-self and your life-purpose. At our main site, we have lot’s of great resources to help. But I suggest you start with our free book the 7 Keys to Success which is concerned with the subject of life-purpose.

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