Why personal development?

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.

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About The Author


  1. How do u find ur unique talent?
    Great to see you doing well, I’m happy here for the most part – couchsurfing bigtime and looking forward to travelling myself …. but should I be doing something else…. 🙂

  2. Thanks for reading, Karen.

    I’ll write about finding your unique talent soon. I’m reading a book at the moment called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, and he talks about something called the Hedgehog Concept in there. It makes sense for business, but also for individuals methinks.

  3. Just a quick note to say that I’ve really been enjoying your blog. I’m interested in personal development too, and a fan of Steve Pavlina’s. It’s interesting to read your perspective on these topics. Wishing you all the best, Clare.

  4. Thanks, Clare. Loving your reports on Zambia over at your blog. I’m moving back to Ireland in December and methinks I’ll try organize a weekly Skype chat for Irish people via the Steve Pavlina forums. Let me know if you’d be interested.

  5. Great Post Niall. I also write about personal development and read many books as I think it’s so important to continuously self-improve throughout life. As to the first comment on finding talents, I actually enrolled in a course online. I find im always discovering new ones but I actually asked many friends and family to write me about what they think are my strengths, passions, talents, and superpowers. I then combined them all into a package for me to go over. It was cool to see. Aside from that it’s asking lots of difficult questions and paying attention to the times your really happy.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Matthew. Great timing too because I was just journaling about ways to help people discover and share their strengths. I think many people fail to realize that expertize is relative; you can help somebody learn if you know just a little more than they do. Asking those close to you to list your strengths is a great way to figure out what you’re good at and realize what knowledge and skills you have to share with others.

  6. Niall,

    I happened across this blog and I must say, I like. I’ve also traveled the world, but not quite as boldly as you are! I worked on cruise ships, so I had the luxury of getting paid regularly – though i know it wasn’t as fulfilling as owning your own business. And you mentioned the French Quarter…do you mean the one in Europe or the one in New Orleans? I’m from Louisiana in the States….

    Anyway, as for your post – YES, personal development is important and so is finding and following your passion in life. That’s one of my main philosophies because I think once people are living in line with who they really are (and once they KNOW who they really are) then so many other things fall into place. You spend less effort trying to live a great life and you just live it. Talking to and meeting new people happens naturally and effortlessly. Good stuff indeed. I’m eager to see where you end up next and how things turn out!

    1. Hey Dean, thanks a mil for the comment. Not sure if I can be called a bold traveler just yet; Spain is just the fifth country I’ve been to!

      I was indeed referring to the NOLA French Quarter. I lived in New Orleans for three years, just left last December. Believe it or not, I actually moved there because I was a big fan of the Hornets. No, really! What part of Louisiana are you from?

      Liking the theme of your site by the way. I was very shy too for a long time, but I worked hard at it and now I love nothing more than meeting new people.

      1. Wow so cool. Yeah I lived in NOLA for three years also going to college. But I’m in Baton Rouge now. Good luck with the Hornets btw…;0)

        Glad you like the site! Yeah, I’m just starting out, but basically wish I would have had a community of ppl wanting to help me via blogs like there is today. Keep up the good work. And let me know if you’re ever back in the NOLA area, we’ll catch a beer!

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