Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve Pavlina: Personal Development for Smart People

He sold me on page xvi of the introduction. I quote, “These principles should lend themselves to a structure that is both simple and elegant.” Some of my readers will already know that I took a motto for myself many years ago against which I measure every choice I make:

An Elegant Simplicity

Or, conversely,

A Simple Elegance

And do these three words sum up the delicious new book Personal Development for Smart People by personal development expert Steve Pavlina! His website is a goldmine—when you are in need of reminders about who you truly are, go, go, go!

I need to cop to something up front here: I’ve only read the first half of the book which lays out the seven principles by which anyone anywhere any time may guide a life. The pages are so dense with wisdom that I want to take more time with the Practical Applications in Part II so I’m writing this review based on Pavlina’s Theories, not his Practices today. (You can expect a follow-up within a few days.)

Personal Development theories are rampant in this day and age as we all know, but rarely, except in older metaphysics books have I seen such simple, elegant instructions for the human psyche. There are three primary principles are Truth, Love, and Power. Various combinations lead to the three secondary principles which are Oneness, Authority, and Courage. Putting all three of the primaries together yields the seventh overarching principle in his system: Intelligence.

Here’s a telling fact: I’ve read the first 136 pages of the book, and I didn’t have to look up his major points as I’m writing this. That tells me that Pavlina’s points are clear, concise, thought through thoroughly, and well-expressed. True, all true, but the most exciting part of the book is the author’s motivation. He was very nearly a jailbird until he got real about his life.

It is so often true that we need to face the rock and the hard place before we’ll let go of how we think life ought to be and get grounded in how life really is. Mr. Pavlina knows how life really is. One of the great boons of his book is that he doesn’t avoid the hard stuff.

I’m one of the best positive thinkers around, but I’m also a realist. When someone hurts, I address it, I don’t ignore it. Positive thinking was never meant to be a gloss-over of reality; it was meant to be a way to guide living. Mr. Pavlina addresses both his own challenges, and his raw truth is fiercely comforting, as well as those of any conscious being. Yeah, we can get into struggling, resistance, defense, angst, you name it, and his three fundamentals, IF we will align with them, will, over time, get us out of these difficulties.

I really enjoyed some of his practical suggestions—in the theoretical part of the book no less. Try these on for size.

Consider a Media Fast: 30 days with no television, radio, newspapers, magazines. Think of the time you’ll free up to grow!

Consider Progressive Training: to “build power and especially self-discipline is to progressively train yourself to tackle bigger challenges.” He suggests an increasing raising of the bar for whatever you want to accomplish. What a relief!

Consider his Worst First: I loved this one! Start your day and do the worst things first. Get them over with, so that as your day progresses you become more and more successful. I learned this one years ago.

Two of the major ideas in this personal development bible have been the cornerstone of my spiritual counseling practice for more than 25 years:

You will have to face whatever you fear.
You will be so much closer to healing if you’ll take full responsibility for the way things are now.

As if I hadn’t already fallen in love with the simplicity and elegance of Mr. Pavlina’s systematic program for personal development, when I hit the pages on Honor, my heart bloomed like a lotus flower. It’s an old-fashioned concept, honor, but one I think needs reviving.

“Honor recognizes that service to self and service to others are the same thing. They cannot be otherwise.”

Amen! Hallelujah! Glory to be God! It is so true, and we, in the Western world anyway, have this bizarre concept that service to others has to cost us or it isn’t service. Nothing could be further from the truth, and Mr. Pavlina nails this one on the head.

I wholeheartedly recommend this simple elegant structure for personal growth. Click here to go direct to Amazon, so you can read it for yourself. Steve Pavlina is a personal development genius, and his book is as simple and elegant as the atom.

P.S. For Part Two, go to

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