The 6 Rules Of Successful Self Development

I posted a quote on my Facebook page the other day about the need for us all to stop criticizing ourselves and show the kindness and compassion that we’d expect others to show to us.

I started off by saying it’s the first rule of successful self development. That if we don’t come from a position of self care then it’s incredibly difficult to make the changes that we want to make.

And the reason is this.

If you’re hyper-critical of yourself you’ll probably not acknowledge your successes because you will be constantly thinking you should be doing better and have one eye on other people who you see as more successful than you.

In that respect, being kind to yourself is super important for lasting beneficial self development, no matter how much you feel justified in thinking or acting otherwise.

However, on reflection I feel I was wrong to say it’s the number one rule, because self development is a strange fish and I feel there’s something that has to precede it in every single instance.

So the real #1 rule of self development is:

The 6 Rules Of Successful Self Development

1. Be Mindful of Your Thoughts

If you are not aware of your thoughts, you probably have no comprehension that you’re constantly piling pressure on yourself and the negative effect it’s potentially creating.

Calling yourself an idiot when you get something wrong is rarely, if ever, useful. And neither is any form of verbal self abuse or criticism.

You may think that it will reduce the chance of you acting in the same manner or getting the same results next time, but it won’t.

If you doubt me, check your history.

The only long-term effect it will have is lowering your self esteem and your belief and trust in yourself.

Are they the results you’re looking for?

I seriously hope not.

You’re human, ipso facto you fuck up. Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but it’s just how it is.

So sit in silence for a few minutes a day and monitor those pesky thoughts.

And if they’re not at all kind, simply thank them for their input and then replace them with something supportive.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.

Note: Being kind to yourself isn’t saying, ‘let’s lie on the sofa all day and drink a bottle of vodka before ordering a 9 foot pizza’. Just in case you were wondering.

2. Be Kind To Yourself

I think we established in the intro how important it is to be kind to yourself.

I bet you want every single family member (presuming you like your family that is) to be kind to themselves.

I also bet if you have kids you’d be appalled at the idea that they offer themselves anything other than self compassion.

So what makes you so special, that you think you don’t deserve what others deserve?

Are you cut from a different cloth? 

Do you believe for some reason that you were put on this earth to be abused, if not by others, then by yourself?

Do you cling on to the absurdly popular belief that if people really knew you then they’d not like you?

Well I’m here to tell you, that you’re very, very wrong!

We all have a dark side. We all have human frailties. We all are imperfect.

Just be kind to yourself, ok?

Trust me, you deserve it.

No, seriously you do, so stop fucking arguing!

3. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others – Or Even To Yourself

This is a bit out there and also some people may vehemently disagree with, if not all of that statement, then at least the last bit.

There is a chapter in my first (published) book called, ‘Don’t Ask Stupid Questions – There Are No Stupid Questions’ – which by the way you can download for free and without needing to leave your e-mail address by clicking the previous link – called ‘Comparison Doesn’t Deliver Contentment’.

When we start to compare ourselves to others we run the very high risk of then basing our self worth on what other people say, do or achieve.

Even if you are very, very good at what you do the odds are that there are people on the planet better than you.

Let’s suppose that you’re truly 1 in 7 billion and you’re are indeed the best at what you do in the entire world.

So what?

That brilliance won’t be replicated across everything you do. There will be some things that you are totally incompetent at.

I think I’m a very good Life Coach, (and so I should otherwise I shouldn’t be practicing) but you wouldn’t want me hanging your drapes.

Unless that is you like wonky drapes that fall down intermittently, like the last set I put up.

But I don’t compare my drape hanging ability to others because if I did I would (mentally) fall down quicker than the drapes.

In my post ’50 Reasons I Suck’ I list a small sample of the things that I’m shit at.

 I really could have made it 500 reasons I suck if I’d wanted to but that would have probably been laboring the point.

We all suck at multiple things, but who cares?

That just makes us human and it isn’t a reason to beat ourselves up.

People will counter this by saying, ‘only ever compare yourself to yourself’ because at least then you’re in control of things.

But are you really?

I used to be a pretty good long distance swimmer in my twenties, but there’s no way I could replicate those times now without the aid of some serious performance enhancing drugs and a speedboat to tow me.

I also used to be able to go out on a Saturday night and drink 10 pints of beer, be charming and witty, discuss superstring theory with quantum physicists and have the ladies hanging on my every word.

But now 3 pints of beer would have me acting like a loon and feeling like shit for 2 days.

Note: There maybe a false memory or two buried in that last one.

All you can ever do is your best.

If you do that and you come up short then there’s nothing to be ashamed of and no need for self recrimination because you gave it your best shot.

Your best may not get you the results you’d like, but it’s ALWAYS good enough.

Got that?

Your best is all you have.

And all you have is always enough, so ignore anybody who tries to tell you otherwise because they’re idiots.

4. Know Your Core Values

I rarely talk to clients or on this blog about core values in the same way as I rarely swear, never get excited when the St Louis Rams are playing or get pissed off by bigotry and hatred.

They are fairly important though and the core values session I do with clients has undoubtedly produced more breakthroughs than any NLP, reframing or clever questioning techniques.

Simply put, if you don’t know what your values are you are guessing when it comes to making decisions in your life, both large and small.

Not only that, but you are more likely to procrastinate, feel stuck and suffer from a lack of motivation and clarity in your life.

Is that enough reason to get to know your core values?

5. Be Tenacious – But Know When To Give Up.

Have you ever heard somebody say, ‘Failure is not an option’? 

Quite frankly, they too are idiots.

Failure is always an option even for the greatest of people.

To think otherwise is a recipe for setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment when failure in some guise inevitably raises its ugly head.

The most successful people aren’t those that never give up, they are those who know if and when to give up.

Sure, Edison failed a lot of times in his attempt to make the electric filament for the light bulb. But he knew that there was a solution and he just wasn’t seeing it (probably because it was dark).

Adopting the same mindset in your attempt to be the first person to thread a pig through the eye of a needle, open an ice dispensary in Alaska, or in attempting to be the first person to hop round the equator backwards on one leg whilst blindfolded and juggling 17 poisonous very pissed off snakes is admirable, up to the point it becomes silly.

Self development can be very hard indeed, especially if you’re looking to make some major improvements, because it involves changing the way you think before you can change the way you act and get better results.

And that involves building some new neural pathways and allowing older more negative ones to atrophy and die.

But you can change, science has unequivocally shown that again and again.

Be tenacious in your desire to become an awesome person.

Equally, be tenacious in your desire to do cool shit.

6. Be Open-Minded About Your Beliefs

Your beliefs hold an incredible amount of power over you, for good and bad.

You have some false beliefs that you are convinced are true.

You will also not believe things that are true.

My advice with beliefs is to challenge the ones that are stopping you from fulfilling your potential and leave the supportive ones right where they are.

If you think the Universe is conspiring on your behalf – fantastic and good for you that should make things a lot easier!

If you think the Universe is conspiring against you – stop being silly, of course it isn’t.

Most people are capable of waaaaay more than they believe and I’d put money down that you fall into that category.

If you have a belief that something you’d really like is out of your reach, really challenge it.

Tie it to a chair, poke it with a sharp pointy stick and shine a bright light into it’s eyes to see if it’s telling the truth.

If it isn’t, escort it from the premises and tell it that it’s no longer welcome inside your head and kick it up its arse as it turns to leave.

I’m pretty sure I could have made this the 25 rules of successful self development, but I just wanted to hone in on the things I think underpin everything else.

Feel free to tell me I’m wrong or add something in the comments because I welcome your feedback.

Image ‘Fish Face’ Courtesy of Justin Gaurav Murgai