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Personal success – what is it and how do we attain it? There are as many theories about what creates personal success as there are choices about what to eat for lunch today. Living and working in Wellington City, the choices about what to eat are many and varied. Walking through the city, I am spoilt for choice. Is it a sushi day or perhaps a healthy roll would be good…mmm, curry also tickles my fancy…or…hot chocolate and cake at the library cafe?
The same can be said for self-help theories, so many to read and so little time. It is easy to get caught up in the latest fad of personal development which can be confusing and sometimes frustrating. Here’s one simple tip, start trusting yourself and do what feels right for you. However, reading all the books in the world won’t add value to your life unless you first start off with one simple thing, self-knowledge.
One of the keys to personal success is: knowing yourself and what is important to you.
I am not talking about superficial success, the material possessions that people use to show other people how much they have achieved but the type of success that means you are the best ‘you’ that you can be whatever that means. Abraham Maslow called it ‘self-actualisation’ but that was a long time ago so make up another word if it suits you better.
According to Maslow, the tendencies of self-actualising people are as follows:
- Awareness: efficient perception of reality
- Honesty: a fully internalised system of morality-independent of external authority.
- Freedom: a need for solitude, autonomous, independent, creative.
- Trusting: acceptance of others, identify with humanity.
Some of the other characteristics are:
- They embrace the facts and realities of the world, including themselves, rather than denying or avoiding them.
- They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
- They are interested in solving problems, of others and their own.
- They feel closeness to other people and generally appreciate life.
- They have discernment and are able to view all things in an objective manner.
Well, that’s all well and good but how do you do this? A good starting point is trying to understand yourself and what drives you. What are your hot buttons, what is important to you? The closer you can get to acting in a way that is consistent with who you really are, the more authentic you will be.
This starts with an honest self-assessment. Self-assessment is not self-judgement which is just an excuse for being cruel to yourself instead of others. This is a mistake many people make when trying to make changes in their lives – attempting to force improvement by making themselves feel bad. This is self-defeating behaviour and might work in the short term but can end up making you feel even worse about yourself. What’s the point of that? Learn to be kind to yourself along the way.
Personal development is most helpful when it happens in a spirit of self-acceptance. This is not to say that you approve of everything you do, hello, have you met the human race. Perfect we aren’t, but we try don’t we? You have to learn to accept that you are a person who has done the very best you can with what you have. This is a more realistic starting point.
Every individual is made up of different parts, some positive, some negative. We all have strengths and limitations that we can learn to understand and try and improve. The starting point of all self-development is reducing as many of your self-deception tactics as you can. This is not as easy as it sounds as the subconscious mind is a cunning operator. These coping skills and defence mechanisms have evolved throughout your life and you might not be consciously aware of them. There are ways to uncover what they are but that’s a topic for another day.
Suffice it to say, until you take a long hard look at yourself, it’s difficult to know what changes you need to make. If you are in denial about yourself well…it’s time to be honest about who you are and that will set you on a more effective road to personal success.
Denial… a nice place to visit but not to live!
Take care and be kind to each other