When I first began to experiment with the idea of personal development, I had no idea that it was to become a lifelong journey. I also had little understanding that this journey was basically unending, and would not be rewarded with a sense of perfection at it’s conclusion.
Looking Back on Earnest and Humble Beginnings
My first stirrings of desire for personal development and achievement had many sources converging on my young, impressionable mind. I had a few hardworking and well-behaved family members to look to as real-world role models. But, their influence wasn’t the primary stimulus in my early years. No dreamy-eyed, self-respecting young boy would ever dare to aim so low as reality. My primary heroes in life were to be found in the Comic Books and Cartoons of my era. I read extensively of larger-than-life heroes such as Superman, Batman, Justice League, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed their many amazing exploits, particularly when they overthrew the villains physically. However, in trying to emulate them physically, I hadn’t noticed that they had specific moral codes of conduct. I hadn’t seen past the “rock ‘em/sock ‘em” excitement of the physically triumphant.
Looking Deeper Into My Heroes
It wasn’t until my early teens that I became aware that there was more to a hero’s life than just one physical battle after another. As my ability to observe improved, and my curiosity in comics began to drive me towards mortal, more fallible heroes the likes of Zorro, Tarzan, King Kull, Destructor, and the now resurrected Luke Cage and Iron Fist—I began to be more aware of their personalities and moral dilemmas. Here is when I first began making judgement calls, and a show of attempting to empathize with others. It was here I began to decide what I thought was good and bad—and what character traits I could/should emulate.
Begin The Mental Evaluation
Fast forward almost two decades to age 29. Here we have me as a relatively hard working young adult male, having started a family, and now responsible for more than just himself.
Growing up watching successful images on TV, and eager to acquire the trappings of success, I begin to realize that I may need to be better educated than I have thus far become. It is clear to me that something is missing from the equation—hard work hasn’t yielded me the trappings. Nor has my life and relationships with friends and co-workers expanded.
Enter The Mentors
The Dreamer in me was hungry for something not taught in the standard education system.
Enter my first three audiobook-style mentors: Les Brown, Jim Rohn, and Napoleon Hill.
Each of these remarkable men had their own unique style of speaking, but they all were basically saying the same things. They all asserted that hard work was good, but it was only one component. Your most important hard work was the work you do on yourself, not your job. It was here I was to first hear the need for your “Personal Philosophy”.
What is your Personal Philosophy, and Why Do You Need It?
A working definition of personal philosophy is one’s basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes.
Ultimately , it is the basis for our behavior—both towards ourselves and others. I feel it shapes our actions in the world-at-large. It even shapes our critical thinking process, reactions, and emotions. It is a huge contributor to our personality, and other people’s perception of us –and we of them. However, for the purposes of this article, we are going to look at it from the standpoint of behavioral and external consequences.
Take this example: In your personal philosophy, what is your idea(s) surrounding hard work?
Do you feel that it is the only way to achieve success? Is/was it a trait that was highly prized in your community? In your family? Was there a hierarchy of status/importance placed around how many hours a person worked? Or, if they had more than one job? The physical nature of the job? Was there inferred pressure to talk about how you were able to sustain such a demanding work schedule, basically trying to “outdo” others in the hopes of being at the top of the pecking order?
In thinking about this example, what are the pros/cons to be had with this approach/belief as a core principle? I can definitely see a benefit to learning to put forth effort, and learning discipline. One limitation I see is being paid according to the value (to the business) one puts in the time worked. Jim Rohn used to say in his speeches—“If You’re not very valuable, you don’t get much money”. Of course, we are speaking of financial compensation, and not personal or societal worth. You could, in fact, be very valuable on many other levels. But, if what you do requires no real level of skill and/or understanding, your compensation will definitely be lower than someone who’s skillset or level of understanding is more difficult to replace.
Another is loss of “status” when you don’t work as “hard” as another person, and are therefore no longer perceived as the top competitor. It is definitely a variation on “I am what I do”, in the sense that any lapse in content immediately brings with it loss. Just like no longer doing a certain job can bring with it a loss of identity for some. In it’s more extreme cases, that loss of identity can bring on mental an emotional instability—manifesting as depression, irritability, mood swings, etc.
This is only one example of how your personal philosophy can affect your actions, environment and thoughts/feelings about the daily operations of life. There are a cavalcade of other examples, but we will return to development of your own philosophy.
Philosophy Forms the Outcomes
Your Philosophy forms the basis for what the outcomes will be from the circumstances we are presented with. Often, we cannot meaningfully alter the particulars, so we must find a way to produce the desired result using our thinking skills in conjunction with our physical environment and abilities. This is the basis of how we form our philosophy–and, because it determines our actions and outcomes–it can effect this partial list of variables:
1. How much money is in your Pocket/Bank.
2. Who is calling you, and why.
3. How you feel about yourself, your results, and the world-at-large
So, I encourage you to begin to evaluate the stuff floating around in your head. Look at where you are. Look at where you want to be. If it doesn’t match, begin the journey anew.