April 29, 2016 by Stephen Bentley
Self Development Articles: Leadership
This is another summary of a series of summaries of self development articles.
You can view all the previous summaries in the series by clicking on this category link.
Today’s Self Development Article – Leadership
Today’s article is by August Tarak and it appeared in Forbes under the title What Every Leader Must Know About Personal Development. To be frank I searched for a different source of articles in this genre other than Medium (the source I have previously used). This Forbes article was near the top of the list. A quick read of the article grabbed my attention. And, you will see why shortly.
Favorite Quote from the Author In the Article
Summary of the Article
Turak prefaces his article with this quote – “Man is a mystery. If you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out do not say that you’ve wasted your time. I occupy myself with this mystery because I want to be a man.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky
He then goes straight to a plug for his book which is about the business secrets of Trappist monks. But then turns to a question asked of him – “What do you do for personal development?”
Turak answers –
“The reason I find this question so difficult is that it assumes that personal development is something we do in order to get “success.” And by success we usually mean having a successful career. It rarely occurs to anyone in our culture that someone (a Trappist monk for example) might become an artist, entrepreneur, leader, or politician as a means to personal development and not the other way around.”
He also argues that the “Trappist business success is living proof that when we seek first the kingdom of personal development everything else will take care of itself. And this is true of our personal lives as well.”
So, he understandably talks about the ‘cart before the horse.’
Reading Time of the Article
5 minutes but needs a re-read for the lessons to sink in.
About the Author and Lessons Learned From The Article
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, and award winning author who attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey for 17 years. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses.
It is a thought-provoking article. The key lesson for me was learning about the Trappist monks and a little of their philosophy. It is also fascinating how Turak poses and answers the question of what comes first? The cart or the horse.
The whole article is well constructed moving from the question to the answer in easy but thoughtful moves.
It’s an excellent read but one I had to read more than once to start to grasp all of the import of what he was saying. I still read these words – “that someone … might become an artist, entrepreneur, leader, or politician as a means to personal development and not the other way around.” It is an interesting thought.
He develops that theme when zooming in on the subject of the punctuality of Trappist monks. He writes – “In other words being on time is not a result of a monk’s personal development. It is a form of personal development.”
I can identify with that last example. Personal development is about cultivating good habits and discarding the bad. It is cultivating the right habits that lead to fulfillment.
Fulfillment may not be as a leader or one of the other examples he gives in the article. Fulfillment is achieved by becoming a better person.
I thoroughly recommend the read although I can guarantee you will need to read it more than once!
I particularly like his postscript to the Dostoevsky quote –
“Man is a mystery….” I have moved many times over the years, but Dostoevsky’s quote has graced the door of every refrigerator I have ever owned or rented since college. Dostoevsky penned those lines in a letter to his brother when he was just 17, and every time I read it I marvel that it was written by a boy so young. But what I love most is that this boy, destined to become one of mankind’s greatest writers, never mentions a job, a career, a profession, or material gain. A few years later he would achieve overnight success with his first novel Poor Folk, but he doesn’t even mention any aspiration to become a writer. Instead all he wants from life in exchange for a lifetime of labor is “to be a man.” Like a good Trappist monk, Dostoevsky didn’t see personal development as a way to become a great writer, but writing as a way to pursue personal development. And if we want authentic rather than ersatz success in life we must do the same.
This is a further post in what has become a series about self development. The idea is that I take an article or perhaps a video or an infographic and summarize what it really means. I have always been a believer in self development even before it became trendy!
Shucks I even write about self development in my About page! And if you need to know more then please check out my Personal Development page. Self development? Personal Development? C’est la même chose!
If you have a thirst for information like me then I can help. I believe I have found part of the solution through Blinkist. It is an app that if used properly can be a tremendous aid to self development.
One of the advantages of me going through many hurdles of trying to create and improve myself in my retirement is that I have discovered things that work. Things that aid productivity.
Self Development and Blinkist
One of those things that aid productivity is Blinkist.
The aim of this series is to summarize to you articles that I believe assist in self development. Damn it! More than that – help you achieve, be a better person. Blinkist does that too. It will give you a synopsis of excellent books written by experts in their respective fields.
It helps you work smarter and be smarter! It is an aid to self development.
Formal Education vs Self Development
Indeed, I am a great believer in self development. Formal education can only teach you so much. The rest is up to you. Learning is within the capacity of all. We do it as soon as we leave the womb and it should be a continuous process. You are never too old to learn.
Through my passage in life, I feel qualified to pass on my wisdom about self development. I feel so strongly about it that I intend to eventually offer one to one consultations to help anyone who is prepared to listen. Listening and learning are the easy bits. You as an individual have to implement those lessons. No one can do it except you!
You can be the most intelligent person on earth but without self- awareness and self development then you run the risk of stagnating. Even worse, you could go backwards.
You know, writing is a tremendous source of self expression and development. It’s fun! Anyone can do it. Click the banner below to find out more –
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Turak’s Book Hardcover
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