How to Approch Personal Development (7 Blogging Gurus Share Their Advice)


by Vlad Dolezal on March 9, 2010

Ever noticed how there’s so much different personal development advice online?

  • choose and thing and do it well – no, wait – do many things and be flexible
  • focus on your long-term mission – no, wait – live in the moment
  • focus on how you can give to others – no, wait – focus on developing yourself first

I was thinking about how all my favorite bloggers approach personal development differently… which comes through implicitly in their posts.

And then I thought – hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we got a bunch of them explicitly stating their views, and then compared them side by side?

So I decided to ask them two questions:

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

(I’ve also been thinking of putting together a list of “bloggers worth following” for a while, but never got around to it. Well, this post can nicely double as that, too! :D)

1. Leo Babauta from Zen Habits

If you haven’t heard of Leo, what rock have you been hiding under? He owns arguably the biggest personal development blog online. A happily married father of six children, he built his blogging empire on two simple concepts – simplicity, and giving his readers what they want. (Okay, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that…)

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

Trite as it sounds, the age-old trick of positive thinking is ridiculously important. If you say you can’t do it, you’ll be right. If you look at every little failure as discouragement, you’ll fail. So start by telling yourself you can do it, and you’ll be right. And look at every little bump as an opportunity to learn, to get better, to succeed the next time. You’ll get there, bruises and all, and you’ll have fun doing it.

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

Help! I’m trapped in the present!

2. Scott H. Young from Scott H Young

One of my favorite bloggers, Scott always writes posts that are useful. Not just feel-good nod-your-head-and-retweet posts, but actually useful stuff that will change your life. Also, he’s done the best job of dissecting how we learn information that I’ve ever seen, and wrote a best-selling e-book around that topic.

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

First, there isn’t one thing, I’m not a big fan of reductionism when applied to personal growth because there are so many things! But, if you have to ask:

I think the most important mindset is one of growth itself. The idea that significant change and improvement in your life is possible through conscious effort and small steps

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

All life is a spark. What matters isn’t the duration of the fire, but how brightly you can burn before fading into the darkness.

3. Glen Allsopp from ViperChill (who also until recently owned PluginID)

Glen managed to build PluginID from scratch into a 6,600-subscriber blog in just 19 months. He’s an expert internet marketer, and right now, in his early 20’s, makes a five-figure monthly income from his affiliate websites and travels the world.

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

I don’t think there is any one thing that is more important than others, but I believe that honesty and awareness are the two of the most valuable traits you can possess. By awareness I’m referring to watching your mind and realising your own low swings and the things that bother you. It’s only once you’re aware of something that you can really let go or take the right action to deal with it.

In terms of honesty I don’t necessarily mean with other people (although that’s never a bad thing) but more honesty with yourself. Don’t play a game in your head and try to convince yourself that you’re someone or something you’re not. If you keep hiding behind your Ego, then you lose that awareness and the chance to grow.

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

I asked a similar question to a group of bloggers once and I really liked the response from Steve Pavlina. His thoughts were basically that we should live our lives in such a way that we don’t need to have one powerful message to give something back when we’re on our death bed.

Constantly provide value, share messages of wisdom, and help others. That will do far more than leaving one statement behind after years of existence.

4. Ali Hale from Aliventures

Ali says that like you or me, she can’t be summed up in one label. She describes herself as a “freelance writer, post-graduate student, incongruously young Church “Elder”, occasional babysitter, unpublished novelist, girlfriend, daughter…”

She earns her living mostly by doing freelance writing online. She also blogs about personal development at her blog Aliventures and is an aspiring novelist.

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

Figuring out what you want to do with your life. And then learning how to do it as best as you can.

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

You are not a dress shirt that needs every wrinkle ruthlessly ironed out. You are a warm, snuggly sweater, loved not in spite of but because of your loose threads, your crumpled bits, your huggable qualities.

5. Tim Brownson from The Discomfort Zone

Tim Brownson used to be a salesman for about 20 years, until one day he realized he doesn’t really like his job. He then decided to become a life coach and now successfully earns his living by being a life coach and a great fun blogger. He does a fantastic job helping others succeed.

He also recently finished a book called How to Be Rich and Happy, co-authored with John P. Strelecky. They worked on it for over 2 years… and then several months later decided to start giving away for free in their 1,000,000 book giveaway. Yay!

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?


2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

Believing in yourself and that you’re as good as the next person is critical to successful self-development. If you don’t believe you can do something it’s highly unlikely you’ll even attempt it. I’d love to fly like a bird, but as the kill joy Keith Harris said to Orville, I can’t. So I tend not to try. Always believe you’re worthy, lovable and a highly capable human being, because you are!

6. Dragos Roua from Dragos Roua

Dragos describes himself as a “serial online entrepreneur, personal development fanatic, blogger, father, dreamer, risk taker. I also think happiness is a process, not a goal.” On his blog, he documents his journey of personal development, as well as sharing tons of kick-ass tips on personal development!

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?


Without awareness, you’re walking in your sleep. You can’t see properly, you can’t hear, you can’t do anything. For anyone interested in personal development, the only thing that they’ll need to cherish, monitor and improve is their awareness. Some people call this “living conscious”, others call it “being aligned with their desires”, I call it “awareness”: one’s ability to be fully aware of his presence in the very moment and of taking responsibility of this presence. (yes, it’s more than a word, I know)

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

It’s not what you are. Although this is fundamental. It’s not what you dream about. Although you couldn’t really create your life without dreaming. It’s not about the questions you are asking. Although you couldn’t learn without asking questions. It’s not what or who you love. Although it’s impossible to live without love.

It’s all about what you do. We often forget what magical gift we received, what fantastic chance we are wasting every second we’re not doing the best we can to live the best life we can imagine. We’re here to do things, to modify our environment, our lives, ourselves. Not doing something equals death.

As long as you’re still able to do something, even if you’re mute, paralyzed and unable to move anything than your little finger from one hand, you can turn the world upside down.

7. Henrik Edberg from The Positivity Blog

Henrik is a 29-year old guy from Sweden. He lives his personal development advice and shares everything cool he learns about personal development on his blog, for the whole internet to benefit from.

1. What do you consider the most important part of personal development?

Take action. This is what will bring you results. It will also give you understanding that no book can ever give, increase your confidence in yourself and make you realize that failure or rejection will not kill you. By taking action and by learning from the results you get and then modifying your approach you can grow and improve in any area of life.

2. If you could share only one short paragraph with the future generations, what would it be?

Life is too short and precious to not explore it. Too vast and filled with opportunities to not explore it. So don’t let fear of what may happen if you step out of your comfort zone hold you back. Life may feel OK now. But it could be so much more than you can imagine now. So don’t let your potential and the potential of life go unexplored.

Notice any patterns?

I noticed one major pattern – almost none of the answers are the same. Every guru considers a different thing to be the most important.

I would give you my answers, but this post isn’t about what I think. (If you really must know, take a look at this blog’s name. That will give you a good sense of what my answer might be ;).)

Instead, think about it for yourself. How would you answer the above questions?

Update: Hi Zen Habits readers!

Hi and thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve hand-picked a few articles here that might be of particular interest for you:

How to Meet People You Will LOVE Hanging Out With – You could call this the Zen of meeting people, because it’s so simple and straightforward. But you’d be surprised how many people miss this obvious point.

How to Change Your Limiting Beliefs – The Ultimate Guide – If you have any limiting beliefs that are holding you back in life, this guide well help you bust through them faster than elephant busting through a glass floor. In a simple step-by-step manner.

How to Eliminate Creative Blocks – Again, this one comes down to keeping things simple. The biggest reason people get creative blocks is trying to be creative and focused at the same time (which are impossible to do simultaneously, as they’re caused by conflicting chemicals in the brain).

Alright, that’s all. Enjoy the reading, and do subscribe by RSS or by e-mail if you like what you see here!

(image courtesy of ben30)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Dragos Roua March 9, 2010 at 12:41

First of all, thanks for inviting me here, Vlad, as I already told you, I had no idea what fantastic team you put together. 🙂

Second, it seems like Glen partially shares one of my “one words” approaches, namely awareness. I’ll put this on the “synchronicity” file, with your permission.

But as almost anyone pointed out, there isn’t really a “one word”. Everybody does it differently. In Romanian we have this proverb: “cate bordeie, atatea obiceie” which basically means: “every house has its own habits” and that applies to personal development too.
.-= Dragos Roua´s last blog ..Unautomate Your Finances – The Guide =-.


Vlad Dolezal March 9, 2010 at 14:35


Yeah, that’s why I said “almost none of the answers are the same”. I noticed both you and Glen said “awareness” 🙂

Yeah, it’s not a one-word thing… but I still found it interesting that everybody still picked a different concept to focus on.


David Rogers March 9, 2010 at 15:15

Finding out what makes you go “ping”. The word passion is overused and implies something extreme, but ultimately its the activities, occupations that make you feel alive. If you can do things that leave you feeling fulfilled then you’ve got it sussed 🙂
.-= David Rogers´s last blog ..Do clothes make a person? =-.


Tim Brownson March 9, 2010 at 17:00

Thanks for including me in such a fine list Vlad, although I’m not sure I like to be thought of as a guru.

A guy with a big mouth and strong opinions that sometimes gets it right and sometimes doesn’t would be more accurate 😉
.-= Tim Brownson´s last blog ..What Are My Values? =-.


Vlad Dolezal March 9, 2010 at 17:33


Exactly! I’d say “feeling alive” is a pretty good way of describing passion for me. Maybe passion is overused and meaningless in the PD niche now, and “feeling alive” is the new buzzword :p


I was totally going to name it “What 6 guys (and 1 gal) with big mouths and strong opinions (who sometimes get it right and sometimes don’t) think of personal development”, but it wouldn’t fit on twitter.

So I had to call you a “guru”. Nyah nyah 😉


simply stephen March 9, 2010 at 18:22

Personal development is about developing you…not anyone else.

Just because something has “always” been done a certain way, doesn’t mean you should. Each of us is designed to work how we want to work. Anything else inhibits your inherent being.

While the above statement answers number 1 it is a sequin to number 2 – Live your life, it is yours to live but make sure you add value to the world while doing it and change the things you think will make it better. Start by picking just one thing and expand on it.
.-= simply stephen´s last blog ..steps to reduce electronic waste =-.


James March 11, 2010 at 03:45

I agree about keeping a positive attitude during personal development. Personal development to me is learning a new personal trait that I don’t have. There is no use learning it if I myself believe “I can’t” do it. So guys we need that “can do” attitude for personal development, it’s a must. The guys from Mentor club showed me how.


Vlad Dolezal March 11, 2010 at 07:57


Words to live by 😉


Spot on, I’m always learning new interesting traits (or “habits”) – so much fun and so useful!


Sid Savara March 12, 2010 at 01:48

Hey Vlad,

I liked this one the best –

“You are not a dress shirt that needs every wrinkle ruthlessly ironed out. You are a warm, snuggly sweater, loved not in spite of but because of your loose threads, your crumpled bits, your huggable qualities.”

I’m a bit of a geek and a perfectionist, and sometimes I need to remind myself it’s ok to make mistakes 😉
.-= Sid Savara´s last blog ..Conversation Hacking – How To Make Small Talk Work For You =-.


Eric March 26, 2010 at 15:57

Wow!! This post will definitely help me along the road of self improvement; I especially like Tim Bronwson’s view on personal development. BELIEF
.-= Eric´s last blog ..Life, Personal Development and Best Advice You Will Ever Get =-.


David December 18, 2012 at 03:15

The Best thing you can do for Personal Development is:
1. Practice Allowing (Ground Yourself to the Earth)
2. Develop Right and Left Brain Coherence (Find out what is your dominant side and work on the opposite)
3. Feel and Open your Heart Energy
4. Repetition of Information (Play Educational Info. in your Car)
5. Get Very Detailed on What you Want to Dedicate your Life to
6. Master Visualization (once you Mastered Allowing, Allowing always comes first)
7. Find out what Type are you and STUDY the Types of People (Knowledgeable Achiever, Charismatic Leader, Emotional Intelligence Specialist, People Pleaser, Creative Idealist.) Be Able to Read the Type of People you are Interacting with.
8. Understand All the Chakras and their Purpose
9. The List Goes on…

Understand your Conscious and Sub-conscious Mind. Think of it like this, your Upper Chakras are Conscious your Lower Chakras are Unconscious. Learn to Allow (lower Chakras) your Visualization (Upper Chakras) and Become emotionally involved, if you are Allowing you can feel the Raw Energy and it Automatically happens. Your Unconscious Mind (1st, 2nd, 3rd chakras) cannot determine whether or not your your VISION is Real or Fake, what it Sees and Feels is “REAL” to it. So you are Programming your Lower Chakras, but you need Coherence Between Lower and Upper Chakras and Being on the Same Page is important, otherwise your Mind is Wanting your VISION yet you are not ALLOWING your Body to ACCEPT the Vision and will still repeat your Habits, Earn the Same Money, Do the Same things, Live in Fear, have Anxiety, ect.

Hope this Helps someone.


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