by Niall Doherty

Why personal development? Why is it important?

Two reasons: personal development makes the world a better place, and it makes you a happier person.

Making the world a better place

Your best contributions to the world come when you make the most of your natural talents. I feel that if you don’t live up to your potential, you don’t just sell yourself short; you let the whole world down.

I believe that everyone is here because they have some unique talent or unique combination of talents, and if you don’t develop and share those talents, it’s not just you that suffers, but the whole world. Everyone misses out.

Consider a great musician. No matter how much talent they were born with, they had to develop determination, self-discipline and often some entrepreneurial skills to make the most of that talent and share it with people. If they don’t do that, we all suffer because we never get to hear the music.

Consider Abraham Lincoln. He had just eighteen months of formal schooling, but he loved to read and his most important lessons were self taught. Imagine if he had never been bothered with personal development, if he had just settled for a mediocre life. How would the Civil War have turned out? How long would slavery have continued in America?

Many people get through their school years then figure they’ve become the person they’re supposed to be. “No need for any more learning or development. I’m done growing. I’ll just put the rest of my life on cruise control and see where I end up.” What if everyone refused to settle for that, if they kept pushing themselves, kept developing their talents and giving their best?

The world would be a better place.

Personal development is important because you owe it to the world to be the best you can be.

As Muhammad Ali put it…

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.

Becoming a happier person

When you’re following your true path and fulfilling your personal potential, you get an unparalleled sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

To quote Leonardo da Vinci…

As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.

You hear people talk about working in a job that they love, doing what they feel they were born to do. How do those people usually feel? They feel pretty good about themselves, don’t they? They’ve figured out what their purpose is in life, and they’re passionate about fulfilling it. Even if they’re not quite there yet, not yet fulfilling their potential, just walking that path and making steps towards fulfilling their potential, that brings an enormous sense of accomplishment and self-worth. It just feels right.

I know for me, when I spend a weekend helping people, sharing some of my talents and skills and/or meeting new people and developing relationships, I come away on a high. I always feel great after a weekend like that.

Then there are those (increasingly rare) weekends when I have a few too many drinks and end up blurry in the French Quarter, of no use to anyone, and spend the next day slumped on the couch watching worthless TV shows; again, of no use to anyone.

I don’t feel so good about myself after those weekends. Really, the only times I find myself truly happy, are those times when I’m working to better myself and giving my best contributions to the world.

Once again

To recap, personal development is important for two reasons. First, it makes the world a better place, because the world can’t improve unless we improve as individuals. Second, personal development makes you a happier person. You’ll never feel as alive and worthwhile as you will when you’re busy becoming the best person you can be.