Thursday, April 09, 2009

Book Review: Personal Development for Smart People

FULL DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.

I have to start off by apologizing to the author: I requested a copy of this book for review because I really like his blog and it migrated to the bottom of my review pile -- guess I forgot about the basic inventory rule of FIFO (First In First Out). All of that having been said, Steve Pavlina, the author, writes a great blog about personal development that I read daily (or as often as he posts) and has produced a great book.

Steve's got a great personal story that you can read about in the introduction of his book, but it boils down to him having a turning point in life when, after having been arrested for theft, he received community service instead of a stronger sentence. After acknowledging the turning point, Steve dedicated himself to starting a business and reading every personal development document that he could get his hands on, extracting knowledge that worked and discarding stuff that did not -- this book is a distillation of hundreds of books and documents on personal development.

The book itself is broken into 2 parts: (1) Fundamental Principles, and; (2) Practical Application. As expected based on the labels, the first part of the book introduces the underlying structure for personal development, and the second part of the book shows the application of the principles.

Being a long-time reader of his blog, I found the same writing style in the book to be very familiar: Steve writes in a very direct way and, although I've never spoken with him, my guess is that Steve is one of the few writers that writes exactly as he speaks. None of Steve's writing is esoteric and he favors succinct language to get his points across instead of flowery prose.

For those of you that have read personal development books in the past (I've certainly read a few), you will find this book dramatically different (I would call it "refreshingly different", though I'm sure there are those that would disagree). Bear in mind that this book is, as stated previously, a distillation of hundreds of works about personal development, so it is, by virtue of its approach, very different.

I'm not going to lie: there is some spiritual stuff in here that may not be appealing, but on the whole, the principles are useful and the practical application portion is very useful even if you don't necessarily subscribe to all the principles.

Definitely a worthwhile read.

Kindle version is available.


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