Personal development

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Personal development comprises activities that improve self-knowledge and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and employability, enhance quality of life and realize dreams and aspirations. The concept of personal development covers a wider field than self-development or self-help; it also includes developing other people , and by extension refers to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems used in personal development.


[edit] Scope

At the level of self-improvement, personal development includes:

  1. becoming the person one aspires to be; integrating social identity with self-identification
  2. increasing awareness or defining of one’s priorities, values, chosen way of life or ethics
  3. strategizing and realizing dreams, aspirations, career and lifestyle priorities.
  4. developing professional potential and talents; developing individual competencies, learning on the job
  5. improving the quality of lifestyle in such areas as health, wealth, culture, family, friends and communities
  6. learning techniques or methods to expand awareness, gain control of one's life or achieve wisdom

The personal development of others may occur as:

  • a function within the role of teacher or mentor
  • a personal competency (such as a manager's ability to develop the potential of employees)
  • a professional service (such as providing training, assessment or coaching)

The "personal development industry" has two distinct markets:

  1. business-to-individual
  2. business-to-institution

The business-to-individual market[1][unreliable source?] includes books, motivational speaking, e-learning programs, workshops, individual counseling, life coaching and techniques such as yoga, martial arts, meditation and fitness programs.

Business-to-institution markets reach tens of millions[weasel words] of students in higher education and hundreds of millions[weasel words] of employees in companies through training, employee development programs, development tools, self-assessment, feedback, coaching and mentoring. Some consulting firms specialize in personal development[2] but generalist firms in[3] human resources, recruitment and organizational strategy have recently entered this growing market, not to mention a large number of smaller firms and self-employed professionals who provide consulting, training and coaching.

At whatever level of development — economic, political, biological, organizational or personal — a framework is needed in order to know if improvement has actually occurred.[citation needed] Personal development frameworks consist of goals or benchmarks that define the end-point, strategies or plans for reaching goals, measurement and assessment of progress, levels or stages that define milestones along the development path, and a feedback system to support progress.

[edit] Origins

Philosophy and religion have long concerned themselves with questions about the meaning of life, what constitutes a good life and how best to develop oneself. Techniques and methods have existed since[weasel words]time immemorial: music, song, dance, poetry, sport, martial arts, and writing are universally practiced as personal development activities.

Michel Foucault described in Care of the Self[4] the techniques of “epimelia” used in ancient Greece and Rome which included diet, exercise, sexual abstinence, contemplation, prayer and confession—some of which became the key practices of Christianity. Traditional Chinese techniques include breathing and energy exercises (Qi), meditation, martial arts (Wu Shu and Tai Qi Quan) as well as practices linked to traditional Chinese medicine such as diet, massage and acupuncture. In India, Yoga techniques make up a number of personal development disciplines including meditation (Prajna Yoga) stretching and postures (Hatha Yoga), breathing (Prana Yoga) sexual mastery (Tantra yoga) and others. In the Islamic tradition, techniques are classified into dhikr (mindfulness of the presence of God) which includes prayer, recitation of the Quran, and contemplation, and "tazkiyyah" (Self purification and development) through education, research and development.

Two ancient philosophers stand out as sources of what has become personal development today, constituting a Western tradition and an Eastern tradition.

[edit] Aristotle and the Western Tradition

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) strongly influenced theories of personal development in the West. Aristotle defined personal development as a category of practical wisdom.[citation needed] Aristotle’s concept of the Good Life consisted in developing one’s excellences (arête) to reach eudaimonia[5], commonly translated as happiness but more accurately understood as “human flourishing” or “living well"[6]. Aristotle continues to influence the Western concept of personal development to this day, particularly in the economics of human development[7] and positive psychology.[8]

[edit] Confucius and the East Asian Tradition

In the Chinese tradition, Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC) founded an unbroken line of philosophy and his ideas continue to influence family values, education and management in China and much of Asia today. In his Great Learning Confucius explicitly shows personal development as the source of managing the family and the state:

The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.[9]

In the late 1990s a lively debate over Asian values seemed to oppose Confucius and Aristotle on questions of family values, maintenance of order and individual freedom[10]. Although the debate turned political and soon died down, cultural differences stemming from the philosophies of Aristotle and Confucius remain. According to leadership author Frank Gallo it is impossible to impose Western concepts in a Confucian management culture without some modifications:

There are cultural differences between China and the West in the way workers view their leaders, what they expect from their leaders, and what leaders can expect from their workforce. Furthermore, there are very fundamental differences in how life works in China compared to the West. The values that Westerners hold dear are sometimes looked at disdainfully in China.[11]

[edit] Personal development in psychology

Psychology became linked to personal development, not with Freud but starting with his dissident disciples Alfred Adler (1870-1937) and Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961).

Adler refused to limit psychology to therapy, making the important point that aspirations are forward looking and not limited to unconscious drives or childhood experiences[12]. He is also the source of the concept of lifestyle, which he defined as an individual's characteristic approach to life, in facing problems, and self-image, a concept that influenced management under the heading of work-life balance.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) made early contributions to personal development with his concept of individuation, which he saw as the drive of the individual to achieve the wholeness and balance of the Self[13].

Daniel Levinson (1920-1994) developed Jung’s early concept of life stages and included a sociological perspective. Levinson’s most important discovery was that personal development is influenced throughout life by aspirations, what he called the Dream:

Whatever the nature of his Dream, a young man has the developmental task of giving it greater definition and finding ways to live it out. It makes a great difference in his growth whether his initial life structure is consonant with and infused by the Dream, or opposed to it. If the Dream remains unconnected to his life it may simply die, and with it his sense of aliveness and purpose.[14]

Levinson’s model of seven life stages has been considerably modified[by whom?] due to sociological changes in the lifecycle[15].

Research on success in reaching goals, as undertaken by Albert Bandura (born 1925),showed that self-efficacy[16] best explains why people with the same level of knowledge and skills get very different results. According to Bandura self-confidence functions as a powerful predictor of success because[17]:

  1. It makes you expect to succeed.
  2. It allows you take risks and set challenging goals.
  3. It helps you keep trying if at first you don’t succeed.
  4. It helps you control your emotions and fears when the going is rough.

In 1998 personal development moved from the fringes of psychology to a central position[citation needed] when Martin Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association and proposed a new focus, on healthy individuals rather than pathology:

We have discovered that there is a set of human strengths that are the most likely buffers against mental illness: courage, optimism, interpersonal skill, work ethic, hope, honesty and perseverance. Much of the task of prevention will be to create a science of human strength whose mission will be to foster these virtues in young people.[18]

[edit] Personal development in higher education

Personal development has formed part of education from the beginning[citation needed] and was a specific goal of the modern university, created in 1810 as the University of Berlin (since 1949: Humboldt University), whose founder Wilhelm von Humboldt declared: … if there is one thing more than another which absolutely requires free activity on the part of the individual, it is precisely education, whose object it is to develop the individual.[19]

In American[ambiguous] universities, the 1960s saw a large increase in number of students on campuses and researchers studied their perceived personal development needs[citation needed]. Arthur Chickering defined seven vectors of personal development[20] for young adults during their undergraduate years:

  1. developing competence
  2. managing emotions
  3. achieving autonomy and interdependence
  4. developing mature interpersonal relationships
  5. establishing identity
  6. developing purpose
  7. developing integrity

In the UK, personal development took a central place in university policy in 1997 when the Dearing Report[21] declared that universities should go beyond academic teaching to provide students with personal development.[citation needed] In 2001 a Quality Assessment Agency for UK universities produced guidelines[22] for universities to enhance personal development as:

* a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and / or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development;
* objectives related explicitly to student development; to improve the capacity of students to understand what and how they are learning, and to review, plan and take responsibility for their own learning

In the 1990s, business schools began to set up specific personal-development programs for leadership and career orientation and in 1998 the European Foundation for Management Development set up the Equis accreditation system[23][dead link] which specified that personal development must be part of the learning process through internships, working on team projects and going abroad for work or exchange programs.[citation needed]

The first personal development certification required for business school graduation originated in 2002 as a partnership between Metizo,[24] a personal-development consulting firm, and the Euromed Management School[25] in Marseilles: students must not only complete assignments but also demonstrate self-awareness and achievement of personal-development competencies.

As a field of education and research, personal development has become a specific discipline, usually attached to business schools, with links to other disciplines:[citation needed]

[edit] Personal development in management

The first well-known proponent of personal development in the workplace was Abraham Maslow[citation needed] (1908-1970) who proposed a hierarchy of needs with self-actualization at the top, defined as[26]  :

… the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.

Since Maslow himself believed that only a small minority of people self-actualize —he estimated one percent[27] — his hierarchy of needs had the consequence that personal development was regarded[by whom?] as limited to the top of the organizational pyramid, while job security and good working conditions would fulfill the needs of the mass of employees.

As organizations and labor markets became more global, responsibility for development shifted from the company to the individual. In 1999 management thinker Peter Drucker wrote in the Harvard Business Review:

We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: if you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t managing their employees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years.[28]

Management professors Sumantra Ghoshal of London Business School and Christopher Bartlett of Harvard Business School wrote in 1997 that companies must manage people individually and establish a new work contract[29]. On the one hand the company must recognize that personal development creates economic value: "market performance flows not from the omnipotent wisdom of top managers but from the initiative, creativity and skills of all employees".

On the other hand, employees should recognize that their work includes personal development and "... embrace the invigorating force of continuous learning and personal development".

Corporate management of careers has changed from a process of climbing the corporate ladder[clarification needed] to a personal development process with recognition that women’s careers show specific personal development needs,[30] that an individual's potential identities are developed in career changes,[31] and that priorities of work and lifestyle continually change.

Personal development programs in companies fall into two categories: employee benefits and development strategy.

Employee benefit have the purpose of improving satisfaction, motivation and loyalty. Employee surveys help companies find out the personal development needs, preferences and problems and use the results to design benefits programs. Typical programs in this category are work-life balance, time management, stress management, heath programs and psychological counseling. Many are the same as programs that employees would pay for themselves outside work: yoga, sports, martial arts, money management, positive psychology, NLP, etc.[citation needed]

As an investment, personal development programs have the goal of increasing human capital or improving productivity, innovation or quality. Proponents see such programs not as a cost but as an investment with results linked to the company’s strategic development goals. Access to these programs is by selection according to the value and future potential of the employee, usually defined in a talent management architecture including populations such as new hires, high potential employees, key employees, sales staff, research staff and future leaders. Other programs are general and access is offered to many or even all employees. Typical programs are career development, personal effectiveness, teamwork, and competency development. Personal development is also present in management tools such as creating a personal development plan with one’s manager, a personal enterprise plan for one's career, assessing one's level of ability using a competency grid, or getting feedback from a 360 questionnaire filled in by colleagues at different levels in the organization.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Loh, Roger (2007-12-31). [ "Personal Development Is A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry"]. Ezine Articles. Retrieved on 2009-03-10. "Personal development - also commonly called self-improvement - is a booming industry! And Internet-based personal development - also commonly called e-learning - is now becoming increasingly popular. According to market research and statistics, it is a 64 billion dollar industry worldwide. In the US alone, an estimated 9.6 billion dollars is invested in personal development in 2005 in the form of: - books - motivational speakers - personal coaching - weight loss programs - audio tapes - stress management programs"  Online article/blog by Roger Loh, which unfortunately does not include source data for his estimate of market size.
  2. ^ Firms such as PDI, DDI, Metizo, and Franklin Covey exemplify international personal-development firms working with companies for consulting, assessment and training.
  3. ^ Human-resources firms such as Hewitt, Mercer, Watson Wyatt, Hay; McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group offer talent development consulting, and Korn Ferry offers executive coaching.
  4. ^ Foucault, Michel, Care of the Self, volume 2, Random House 1986, translated from the French “Le Souci de Soi” editions Gallimard 1984. Part two of Foucault’s the book describes the techniques of caring for the soul falling in the category of “epimelia” from the Greek to the classic Roman period and on into early Christianity.
  5. ^ Nichomachean Ethics translated by W.D.Ross, Basic Works of Aristotle, section 1142. This work is provided online in The Internet Classics Archive of MIT.
  6. ^ Martha Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness, Cambridge University Press, discusses why the English word happiness does not describe Aristotle’s concept of eudaimonia, pages 1-6
  7. ^ Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen identifies economic development with Aristotle’s concepts of individual development in his co-authored book written with Aristotle scholar Nussbaum, Martha, and Sen, Amartya, The Quality of Life. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993, as well as in his general book written a year after receiving the Nobel in 1998 Development as Freedom, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999.
  8. ^ Daniel Seligman explicitly identifies the goals of positive psychology with Aristotle’s idea of the Good Life and Eudaimonia in Seligman, Martin E. P. (2002). Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-2297-0 (Paperback edition, Free Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7432-2298-9).
  9. ^ Confucius, Great Learning, translated by James Legge. Provided online in The Internet Classics Archive of MIT.
  10. ^ Amartya Sen, "Human Rights and Asian Values," The New Republic, July 14-July 21, 1997
  11. ^ Frank Gallo, Business Leadership in China, Wiley 2008
  12. ^ Heinz Ansbacher and Rowena R Ansbacher (1964) Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, Basic Books 1956. See especially chapter 3 on Finalism and Fiction and chapter 7 on the Style of Life.
  13. ^ For Carl Gustav Jung, individuation was a process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. C.G. Jung. Psychological Types. Collected Works Vol.6., par. 757)
  14. ^ Daniel Levinson, Seasons of a Man’s Life, Ballantine Press, 1978, page 91-92
  15. ^ Gail Sheehy, New Passages, Random House 1995. Sheehy had written an earlier best-selling book Passages popularizing Levinson’s stages; her second book demonstrated how far society and life stages had changed.
  16. ^ Albert Bandura (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman
  17. ^ Albert Bandura, Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1998, page 184.
  18. ^ Martin Seligman, “Building Human Strength: Psychology’s Forgotten Mission” VOLUME 29, NUMBER 1 - January 1998
  19. ^ Wilhelm von Humboldt, Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government. Translated from the German of Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt, by Joseph Coulthard, Jun. (London: John Chapman, 1854). Chapter 6. Accessed from on 2008-12-30
  20. ^ Arthur Chickering, Education and Identity (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1969); second edition updated with Linda Reisser, published in 1993 by Jossey-Bass.
  21. ^ The Dearing Report of 1997:see the Leeds University website:
  22. ^ These definitions and guidelines appear on the UK Academy of Higher Education website:
  23. ^ For the personal development requirement for Equis, see the European Foundation for Management Development website
  24. ^ A description and requirements for Metizo’s personal development certifications can be found on the the company’s website:
  25. ^ The components of Euromed Management School’s personal development programs appear on the school’s website
  26. ^ Abraham Maslow “ A Theory of Human Motivation” originally Published in the 1943 Psychological Review number 50, page 838. Maslow, A. H. (1996). Higher
  27. ^ Maslow, A. H. (1996). Higher motivation and the new psychology. In E. Hoffman (Ed.), Future visions: The unpublished papers of Abraham Maslow. Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage, page 89
  28. ^ Peter F. Drucker, “Managing Oneself”, Best of HBR 1999.
  29. ^ Ghoshal, Sumantra; Bartlett Christopher A. (1997) The Individualized Corporation: A Fundamentally New Approach to Management, HarperCollins, page 286..
  30. ^ Hewlett, Sylvia Ann (2007), Off-Ramps and On-Ramps, Harvard Business School Press. This book shows how women are changing the traditional career path and how companies are adapting to career/lifestyle issues for men as well as women.
  31. ^ Chapter 2: Ibarra Herminia (2003) Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing your Career, Harvard Business School Press. The author discusses career change based on a process moving from possible selves to anchoring a new professional identity.
Personal tools