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The Problem with Personal Development

The Problem with Personal Development


    Personal development. Type the term into Google and you get 115 million results, give or take a blog or two. That’s not surprising. The personal development industry is worth billions of dollars. And that number will keep growing now that the global economic downturn has left millions out of work, reconsidering what they want to do with their lives and looking for new ways to get ahead.

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    But there’s a problem. With hundreds of programs, thousands of books, and what sometimes seems like millions of blogs, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And, much like Barry Schwartz discussed in the paradox of choice:

    “…with so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all.”

    Analysis Paralysis

    And it gets worse. “Even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice,” Schwartz continues, “we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.” In other words, we end up blaming ourselves because we feel we could have done better.

    Breaking through the noise

    Fortunately, there’s a way for us to solve these problems:

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    • We need to focus on timeless principles. After reading dozens of books for my research on The Monumental Life, I noticed that the same basic ideas came up over and over again. That’s why I don’t get the big deal with EFT, NLP, LOA, or other confusing self-help terms. We don’t have to chase the latest and greatest techniques just like those silly magazines that come out with the “best ever” ab routine every single month. Instead, we should focus on what’s been shown to work over the long-term.
    • We need to focus on taking action. Be honest: How many times have you read a great self-help book or gone through a brilliant personal development program only to soon forget all the principles you learned? I’ve lost track of how many times this has happened to me! It all turns into a waste of time because what we learn doesn’t make a difference in our lives or in the lives of anyone else. And isn’t that the point? That’s why we need to focus on applying what we learn. Unless what you’re taking in isn’t going to be applied in some way, you might as well not even bother.

    Great Expectations

    Schwartz concluded his TED Talk by saying that the key to happiness is lower expectations. What do you think? Should we expect less from personal development? Or should we simply make better choices when it comes to our inner growth? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

    (Photo credit: Stressed Businessman via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2020

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

    Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

    Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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    Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

    However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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    The leap happens when we realize two things:

    1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
    2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

    Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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    Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

    My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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    In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

    “Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

    Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

    More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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