Steve Pavlina’s book “Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth” was released recently. Hay House, the publisher, sent out review copies to over 400 bloggers at the author’s request. I agreed to read and give an honest review of the book once I finished it.
First thing first:
Before I begin, let me be clear on something. I was already going to buy a copy of the book before I read that Steve would be arranging to send out review copies. Yes, I love his writings that much. I was about 5 minutes from pulling out my wallet when I got the newsletter announcing the review offer. So, I went into reading this book with full expectation that the book would be as informative and useful as the content on his website.
So, understanding this bias, I loved the book for the most part. I had only one thing I didn’t quite agree with, which I’ll cover below. I am very excited for having read this book. I explain why in the section “Why I am excited”.
In the book, Steve goes beyond what he calls the “low hanging fruit” of personal development. A lot of personal development authors and speakers tend to get more into the techniques of personal development. This might include tips and tricks in areas such as time management, productivity, people skills and so on.
Steve realized early on that there is a certain underlying pattern to every growth experience. So, instead of simply attacking specific issues with tips and tricks limited to those specific issues, he spent years studying and synthesizing an understanding of the core principles that lead to personal growth.
This led him to an understanding of 3 primary and 4 secondary factors which determine the quality of our growth experiences. The factors are: Truth, Love, Power and the secondary principles of Oneness, Authority, Courage, and Intelligence.
Truth is the ability to get develop an accurate understanding of both our current state of being and the steps we need to take to develop the state of being we desire. Truth is coming to grips with what our life is like in the current moment. It is also being able to accurately assess how our lives will be later on down the road if we stay on the path we’re on.
This leads to hard questions we have to ask ourselves. Questions like “If I keep eating the way I eat, will I have the body I want as time passes?”
Truth is that factor which keeps on the right course to reach our self development goals.
Love is that factor which binds us to other aspects of our reality. Love is the bond of kinship which arises from being connected to other people, animals, and even “inanimate” objects. This arises from finding the common ground with which to connect to others.
Power is the factor which determines how we create our reality and build our life experience. A mastery of Power leads to wielding the power of manifestation in our outer reality. Lack of power leads to the “victim” mindset. Lack of Power is akin to being in a boat on a river with no oars or motor. You are simply carried by the current until you eventually run aground or get dumped into the ocean.
Power in the context of this book does not imply merely the type of power we think of someone in political office wielding. Even those in political office sometimes find themselves being pushed back and forth.
How they relate:
The awesome thing about these three primary factors is that they relate with each other with the beautiful precision and universality that we find in mathematical equations. In fact, in the book, Steve has a diagram which is a triangle, to illustrate. The three primary factors make up the “corners” of the triangle. This leads to an intuitive visual understanding of how the principles work together.
The three primary factors actually lead to the emergence of the 4 secondary factors of Oneness, Authority, Courage, and Intelligence.
Oneness is the principle which is represented by the union of Truth and Love. With Truth and Love working together, we have an accurate model of our reality and life, coupled with the universal knowing that we are all connected. This naturally leads to behaviors such as empathy, compassion, and unity. This is where we intuitively know that we are not separate from our fellow human beings. At the core we are one. Namastè
This is the union of Truth and Power. Here, we have an accurate model, we know what must be done to shape our reality as we desire. This is coupled with the ability to actually share reality.
Truth without power leads to what some call “thinking about it” syndrome. ”I’m thinking about starting a business”, “I’m tnking about changing jobs”, and so on.
Power without truth leads to haphazardly affecting life as we know it, with no regard for whether what is being done is the right path to be on.
Courage is the union of Love and Power. This is taking action which is in the best interest of all involved. Love without Power leads to caring inaction. Power without Love leads to abusive action.
Intelligence is the principle which emerges as one approaches a synergistic union of the other six principles. When we act with intelligence, we are operating with sheer definiteness of purpose, for the highest good of all, in a way which is in keeping with the reality of the present moment. Intelligence is the ultimate prize of personal development. To act intelligently is to make reality better day than it was the day before.
A (minor) point of contention:
Ok. Being as biased as I still am, I found one part which didn’t QUITE resonate with me, although I think I can understand where Steve is coming from.
In the section on Money, on page 188, Steve makes mention of how money that is put into a savings account is not adding value to the mix. I wrote previously that even money in a savings account satisfies the Law of Circulation. This is in the fact that the banks loan this money to customers for things such as buying a house, starting certain types of businesses, and so on.
I will admit that a savings account might not be the best use of the money to make the most good come of it. It is, however, a choice which can be made.
Why I am excited:
I’m excited because a lot of the things Steve talks about in the book, I’ve written posts on this blog which touch on a lot of the ideas he has so eloquently put together. One example is the notion of “Emergent Properties“.
Why I am troubled:
In the book, and on his blog, Steve talks a LOT about purpose and meaning. He offers exercises to help determine what our purpose is. And, he says that the way to know once you’ve found the purpose that resonates with you, is that each time you read it or say it to yourself, it makes you cry.
I started this blog in June of 2006. I was one of the many who were inspired by Steve’s nearly unfathomable success even at that point in time. So, since I was interested in prosperity and abundance thinking, I started this blog with the intent of making it a place to learn about things such as Manifestation, Law of of Attraction, Spirituality and so on.
This is what troubles me. I realize now, after his book put things in perspective for me, that I am strong in the Love department, as far as this site goes. The passion is there. I have been getting better at the Power angle, as I refine my intentions and manifestations.
I have the most problem with “Truth” at this point. How can I write about financial freedom, knowing that I work at a job that I don’t love but I don’t dislike enough to leave? And also knowing that without my Job, I would not be able to meet my physical life needs? I’m troubled because I feel inauthentic with it. I think that’s the reason I’ve felt so uninspired and “stuck” as far as what to write on here for such long stretches of time.
It almost makes me cry to think about this, so I don’t know if it’s from being so close to an approximation of my purpose, or if it’s just a feeling of having went on such a long wrong path for the past 2 years. Maybe I’ll have to reread the book.
Anyway, this book is the absolute best self-help book I’ve ever read.
Steve, if you’re reading this:
Thank you. I love you for writing this book, it really made me think.
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