Personal Development Readers vs. Personal Development Doers

How many people would you say are into personal development? Very few, right? Keep on reading, and you may realize they’re really fewer than you think.

I say this because I think true personal development means a lot of doing, while a lot of the people in this segment are mostly just into reading/ listening/ viewing: books, blogs, articles, DVD’s, trainings & courses, you name it.

The way I see it, personal development is not essentially about acquiring new information, but about developing new skills and attitudes. However, developing skills and attitudes requires practice. I mean a whooole lot of practice! Massive, organized, ferocious and persistent action.

Most people I know who get into the reading part, considering how much they actually need to practice to turn the knowledge into skills and attitudes, just the most valuable knowledge, they barely scratch the surface.

They read a good book, find some very valuable and practical ideas, at best they start applying them for a few days, and then they move on to the next book, seeking some new “inspiration”. They are the “readers”.

I used to do exactly this; until I discovered I was just being a personal development literature enjoyer. Some people read love novels, I read “As a man thinketh” and the likes. I still enjoy the reading part a lot, but I’m very aware that this is not what real self-improvement is mainly about, so I also focus a lot on practicing what I read; on being a “doer”.

Besides the obvious difference in applying the theory between the readers and the doers, there are 3 more important differences I notice very often, which I think go hand in hand with this one:

  • Doers focus on selecting, remembering and organizing the most valuable personal development ideas from what they read, they put them into their growth plan.
  • Doers use strategies for doing, they set practice goals and daily practice tasks, they keep track of progress and find ways to keep themselves motivated.
  • Doers sometimes consciously cut down their reading, as they understand that new information can often interfere with their practicing and defocus them from their goals. Rather, they sometimes re-read the stuff they’re already applying, to keep themselves going.

The result is the actual growing process as a person. I think you can often separate the doers from the readers because the doers are the ones you see after 2-3 years and they seem strikingly changed, improved: maybe they’re more confident, happier, more expressive, more charming or simply… richer. I don’t know about you, but I for one have the pleasure of knowing only about a hand full of people such as these.

So, after finishing this article, are you gonna take a deep breath and move on to the next one, or are you gonna get up from that chair of yours? What do you usually do? Are you a personal development reader or a personal development doer?

Comments

  1. well~ one presumes oneself to be a doer ~:-)

    I have definitely regimented my reading, mostly it is a reward for achieving tasks, or time out late in evening before sleep.

    As a Tutor:Mentor being aware of the need for praxis of learnt knowledge is a key feature of my role in learning support. Showing others how this occurs for them at the individual level is always exciting.

    As the Buddha and others say~ book the book away when you understand.

  2. I agree with this. Many people learn about personal development. But they only like that high kind of feeling it gives to them. The most important things we need to understand is that when getting towards success – applying, doing, executing – are going to be the things that get us from where we are to where we want to be.
    .-= Tristan Lee´s last blog ..6 Golden Rules for Attracting More Wealth Into Your Life =-.

  3. Hey Char, Tristan,

    Thanks for commenting. Tristan, I think you’re spot on about that high feeling which attracts us to reading personal development. Especially inspirational and motivational literature. It’s important for us to realize though that this high is short lived and unreliable as a motivator for action.

  4. If people are new to personal development or lifestyle design, then I think its ok to take a bit of time to motivate yourself and gather a lot of information.
    .-= Anthony Feint´s last blog ..Eight Ways to Save Time =-.

  5. Im both and neither 🙂

  6. Anthony, it makes sense. If you’re new to personal development, building a knowledge base first might be a good idea.

    Jon, both, neither and something more 😉

  7. Cracking post Eduard and you hit the nail on the head. I recently made a declaration that I won’t be attending anymore personal development seminars because I feel in some ways I’ve absorbed all the information I need and what I now need to do is put it all into practise. I don’t mean that there isn’t anything more I can learn just that I’ve learned enough for now and I just want to put it all to good use in my life.

    Strategy is a big buzz for me right now and I love using it. You need a good strategy to take things forward and once you’ve learned something use it consistently or lose it quickly.

    Superb post!
    .-= Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice´s last blog ..Never Underestimate The Power Of Negativity =-.

  8. Hey Eduard:

    Truly a great post. Made think of myself and what I am. I have to admit I have been on both sides: the doer and the reader. I started of as a reader. I loved to read new ways of making my life great. Yet, soon I realized that most were not working and that most self-development was not for me.

    I had to find my own voice and my own niche.. I realized that reading is just good for creating an environment of positive energy around you. That is all. It is hard to experience something merely from reading it.

    Ever since, I really gave on most of the self-development material – especially that one that claimed it would fix all of my problems once and for all. I took on a path of my own as a thinker and writer.

    I believe most people forget the SELF part in the self-development. It is to be done by us. Not by others. We have to take the action and sit down with ourselves and take a look at our lives and examine them.

    Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    Best,
    Tomas

  9. Great post Eduard, made me think about who I am – doer or just a reader…I really hope I am a doer, but you are right too often people just learn and don’t implement. Action is what makes our physical reality to shift… thinking, dreaming etc can only prepare us for action, but will be useless if we never take that action.
    .-= Lana – DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work =-.

  10. Amit, I decided something similar about one year ago: to cut down seriously on the personal development books. Since then, I mostly re-read some books and ideas I’m putting into practice now.

    Tomas, brilliant comment about the SELF in self-development.

    Lana, I hope you are a doer to 🙂

  11. Krishnamurti said our personal development solutions go from one known to another known. True development is development into the unknown, and that’s why he titled one of his books “Freedom from the Known.”

    It starts with recognizing that the entire problem is our deep identification with thought.

    Great post, thanks!

    k
    .-= Kaushik´s last blog ..Getting into the flow of Awakening =-.

  12. Great article…It is kind of funny how just reading about PD will make someone feel like they are actually making improvements…I have experienced this myself!
    It is important that we take maybe two or three things and work on them until they become a part of who we are…before we start working on the countless other things…
    I guess with anything in life, the “doer” will almost always succeed before the one who is the “think about it for a while” kind of person.

    I needed this post today, I wasn’t quite feeling the doer in me, but I got it now. Thanks!

    ~Ross
    .-= Ross Welte´s last blog ..What Makes You Happy? =-.

  13. Yeah. I think it’s time somebody actually wrote a post about this. It’s really easy to become a personal development junkie. I have to admit I consume alot of stuff. But, in all honestly being a personal development blogger has forced me to actually take more action on everything I read.
    .-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..6 Things I would do differently if I started my blog today =-.

  14. Eduard, good topic. I think personal development should address the growth of not just the mind but also the heart and soul.

  15. Thanks for all your comments. Good to see people who believe in going beyond information, into action for personal development.

  16. James Allen is a great author and As a Man Thinketh is a great book. You can read his complete collection of works for free at The James Allen Library.
    .-= Rick´s last blog ..Home =-.

  17. This is so true. You can read and read about something until you’re blue in the face but you won’t really understand it or appreciate it until you try it. Reading a book about India isn’t the same as actually visiting India with all its inherent sights and sounds and reading a personal development book won’t develop you in anyway. Doing some of the exercises might though.

    It’s the same scenario with actually getting healthy. There’s no use buying fancy excercise gear, new trainers and filling the fridge with seasonal fruit and veggies. You have to get the clothes on and go for a walk then come home and make a fruit salad. Repeat for 28 days and you should start to feel a difference!

  18. Sachin Chavan says:

    Eduard, its nice to see the direct way in which you are sharing your self-discovery through your blog. Power to you!

    I am in total agreement with the pitfalls of substituting acting with reading when it comes to development/discovery as I prefer calling it.

    However, I’ll like to bring in a different angle of mindful reading here, which itself can be an act of discovery. Just like mindful listening, mindful reading can make one aware of the world within. Eknath Easwaran for example has presented the path of passage meditation ( http://www.easwaran.org/page/96 ) which you may be interested looking at. I am not a follower, but found it interesting.

    Just like reading, doing also has its limitations… both are tools to gaining insights which can shift the consciousness. Doing with a sense of doer-ship for example, may not be useful and even counter-productive.

    All I am saying is its the ‘how’ which more important than the ‘what’ you do… that doing can be a thought, an action, a reading, a communication, or simply, living!

    Metta,
    Sachin

  19. Annabel: I usually get red in the face, but I see your point. 🙂 I think I did that with the exercise gear once.

    Sachin, I’ll look into passage meditation. You certainly made me curious.

  20. Hi Eduard.

    I do like that you brought this up. Your point about doers seeing change over time sounds pretty reasonable, as it doesn’t make much sense to not adapt through the learning. A person who reads about electrical circuitry every day but doesn’t actually use that reading to do some electrical work or fix some electrical sections of their house isn’t really getting anywhere with their reading.

    Your point about just taking the best you read about is one to take into account. I only remember a certain percentage of what I read or am informed about, and only make use of a certain percentage of that material. The rest tends to filter itself out due to lack of utility.

    Good distinction here.
    .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Going With A Plan And Social Sharing Of Strengths =-.

  21. Hi Armen,

    Thanks for reinforcing some of my main points.

  22. I am a kind of personal dev. reader 🙂 I’ll try to become a doer…
    .-= Basant Singh´s last blog ..Web 3.0: The Intelligent Web =-.

  23. Well good luck to you. Now turn off that computer! 🙂

  24. A good reminder that if we want to change our lives, we must take action. Action is the key to personal development and to success and happiness too.
    .-= amanda@choosing-life-my-way.com´s last blog ..Inspiration and Motivation Come from Action =-.

  25. Hey Eduard, this reminds me of a quote by Hawkins – we eventually have to move from knowing, to doing, and finally, to being. Or something like that, I can’t remember the exact words. Thanks for this post, I think it’s high time someone called attention to this phenomenon. 😀

  26. Sweet :). I think it’s basically about internalizing knowledge and eventually making it a part of you.

  27. Comfortabl y, the post is in reality the best on this precious topic. I harmonize with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your next updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the exceptional clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. Authentic work and much success in your business dealings!

  28. I enjoyed this post.

    So often people don’t recognize that they have the knowledge to move forward. It’s a common excuse I’ve heard when coaching people. “I just need to learn a little bit more about this and then I can do that.” The reality is that they had the knowledge to move towards their dreams but they just didn’t believe they did.

    Like you said, what is important it putting the knowledge one acquires into action.
    .-= Leisa Watkins´s last blog ..Fundamental Truths, Messes, And More In Life’s Daily Lessons =-.

    • Hey Leisa,

      I find this to be true as well: people are often looking for more knowledge, when it is not knowledge they’re missing. It’s action.

  29. Hi Eduard!

    I recognize myself when I read this post.

    I have read book after book of various topics of personal development. Then at some point I started to think … this doesn’t make any sense – I’m just reading but never doing.

    Reading book after book but never actually implementing anything is useless – just waste of time.

    Thanks for reminding this. I need to change my strategy towards more action oriented.

    • I think this excessive reading stage is one most people who are passionate about improving certain areas of their lives go through Timo. The main thing is to become aware of it and not linger in it.

  30. rajeshwari says:

    Hello Mr. Eduard Ezeanu, you are doing such a marvelous job by spreading awareness about how to lead a successful life in true senses. Your articles help a lot.

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