Personal Growth By Mary Jaksch Tweet1 Share +11Shares 2 Photo by Matthew Fang In the core of your consciousness, what kind of being are you? Are you brave or cowardly? Are you truthful or dishonest? Are you generous or selfish? Are you responsible or irresponsible? Life in the physical universe exposes your true inner qualities. These are challenging questions by Steve Pavlina in the following conversation with Mary Jaksch. Read on to be inspired by what Steve Pavlina, one of the most successful authors on personal growth, has to say about personal development: . Mary Jaksch: Steve, you’re easily the most successful personal development blogger on the Internet, attracting more than two million monthly readers to your website StevePavlina.com. And your new book Personal Development for Smart People is about to become a bestseller. I hear that it’s just cracked the Amazon top 100 list. And it’s still three months away from release! When I read your website, I get the feeling that you are totally passionate about personal growth. . Why do you think personal growth is so important? . Steve Pavlina: I think growth is the primary reason we find ourselves here on earth. I came to this conclusion while pondering the seemingly unavoidable fact that someday I’m going to die, and I don’t even know when that will happen. . You must realize that everything you’re experiencing in your human life is temporary. Your body, your home, your career, your possessions, your human relationships — all temporary! When you die, all of those things will be left behind. .. The only thing that can possibly survive your physical death is your consciousness, your awareness of existence. Now you may believe that even your consciousness won’t survive, and that’s fine. But at the very least, you must recognize the simple truth that nothing rooted in physicality can endure forever. . Facing the inevitability of death can be rather disturbing at first. But if you fully accept this as true, it helps you see the physical world in a whole new way. You realize that there’s no point in living for anything physical because in the long run, it’s all dust. But you still find yourself here in the physical world. Why? If it all ends in dust, then what could possibly be the point? Why exist as a physical being with a sense of consciousness and self-awareness? How shall you live if you know with certainty that it’s all going to end someday? . The answer I found to these questions was growth. By growth I’m referring to the development and expansion of your consciousness, the very core of your being, independent of your physical experiences. If you find the word consciousness too abstract, you can loosely substitute the word mind. . In the core of your consciousness, what kind of being are you? Are you brave or cowardly? Are you truthful or dishonest? Are you generous or selfish? Are you responsible or irresponsible? Life in the physical universe exposes your true inner qualities. Your human experience ultimately reflects back to you who you are on the inside. Consequently, human life gives you the opportunity for deep self-understanding, enabling you to experience growth and change. The physical world gives consciousness the opportunity to experience itself objectively. This is a tremendous gift. .. We all experience growth while we’re here, but most people still grow unconsciously. Life constantly reflects back to them who they are, but they aren’t fully aware that this is happening. Once enough lessons have been learned in the unconscious stage, the next step is to progress to conscious growth. At this point we accept that the reason we’re here is to grow — to use the physical world as a tool to examine and expand our inner selves. For example, do you want to be more courageous, more honest, more loving, more powerful, or more peaceful? Physical life will offer you the opportunity to experience whatever form of conscious growth you desire. There are fears to face, truths to discover and accept, love lessons to learn, challenges to overcome, etc. . When you center your life around conscious growth, life reveals a truly magical beauty. . .. Mary Jaksch: I’m particularly struck with your idea that “the physical world gives consciousness the opportunity to experience itself objectively”! I love the fact that you are not just concentrating on your own growth, but are passionat about helping others to develop. You reach out to many on your blog. And now your upcoming book Personal Development for Smart People will help many more people. . What are the most important ideas that you want people to understand through reading your book? . Steve Pavlina: The most important idea is to learn and understand the 7 principles of growth: truth, love, power, oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. These are the tools you’ll use to develop your consciousness. The first three principles of truth, love, and power are the most important since the other four can be derived from them. The first half of the book explores these principles in detail. .. The second half of the book explains how to apply these principles to improve your results in every area of your life, including your habits, career, finances, relationships, health, and spiritual development. .. What’s unique about this book is that it takes a holistic approach to personal growth instead of a fragmented approach. You don’t have to learn different rules and strategies for your health, relationships, career, etc. You only need to learn and understand the 7 core principles. Since these principles are universal, you can use them to help you grow in any situation. These principles are especially useful for diagnosing and solving tricky problems, like figuring out whether or not to leave a shaky relationship… or deciding how and when to make a major career move. .. The core idea of the book is simply this: The most intelligent thing you can possibly do with your life is to grow. Focus on bringing more truth, more love, and more power into your life, and everything else you desire will follow. . . Mary: I’ve been reading some of your articles on stevepavlina.com. I think you’ve now written about 700. The quantity and consistent high quality is truly dazzling! . Which of your articles is your all-time favorite? . Steve: Tough question! Perhaps my all-time personal favorite would be The Courage to Live Consciously. I wouldn’t say it’s the best article I’ve written, but it’s very special to me because it’s the first article I wrote for StevePavlina.com. I poured a lot of myself into the writing. I especially love the closing paragraph, so much that I included a variation of it in my book: . Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be. You may go broke. You may experience failure and rejection repeatedly. You may endure multiple dysfunctional relationships. But these are all milestones along the path of a life lived courageously. They are your private victories, carving a deeper space within you to be filled with an abundance of joy, happiness, and fulfillment. So go ahead and feel the fear – then summon the courage to follow your dreams anyway. That is strength undefeatable. . I think the article I enjoyed writing the most was 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job. I originally wrote it as a satirical/humorous piece, laughing the whole time I was typing. I was surprised when dozens of people wrote to tell me that it was the push they needed to quit their unfulfilling jobs. I found it interesting that a humor piece could have such an impact. The most difficult article for me to write was The Meaning of Life: Intro because it was about a very dark time in my life. I had to relive some very intense experiences as I wrote it. . . Mary Jaksch : Your article The Meaning of Life: Intro is quite extraordinary. You’ve certainly tasted the lows of of life, as well as the highs. It seems that the hard experiences forged your life purpose. You’ve listed your life purpose as: to live consciously and courageously; to enjoy, increase, and share peace, energy, passion, and abundance; to resonate with love and compassion;to awaken the great spirits within others; to fully embrace this present moment. . Which life purpose is the most important in your eyes? . Steve Pavlina: Every line of this purpose actually says the same thing from a different perspective, so they’re all equal in my eyes. For example, living consciously is the same thing as being centered in the present moment, and that’s the same as being in a state of unconditional love. . For me the first line gives me the most guidance. Living consciously and courageously means that I must keep turning toward whatever I fear. I live by the mantra, “Whatever I fear, I must face.” Whenever I give in to fear, I turn my back on truth, love, and power. . . Mary Jaksch: In your article Quantum Leap you state that personal growth is very, very hard. . What’s your advice to someone starting out in personal growth? What’s the first step? . Steve Pavlina: Nobody is really just starting out because we’ve all been having growth experiences since we were born. Learning is ongoing. We can’t prevent it. . However, what we can do is assume direct responsibility for our ongoing growth. This is what it means to live consciously. Instead of letting others decide what you’ll learn and how you’ll grow, you decide. You hold the reins. . At this point the first step is to stop and ask yourself, “What do I want?” You don’t need anyone’s permission to decide what you want. You just decide. You have the freedom to choose whatever you want. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s possible. Just give yourself permission to dream. Allow yourself to experience desire. . I reached this point when I was sitting in a jail cell at age 19. I finally woke up to the fact that my life was a train wreck. While sitting in that cell for a few days, I decided it was time to take responsibility for my life. I couldn’t just let life happen to me anymore. That path had literally sent me to jail. Being in jail was a powerful incentive to make some changes. . I began to get in touch with my desires. My first desire was to get out of jail and to stop doing what had landed me there (shoplifting). After that I began setting new goals for myself. I couldn’t fix all my problems over night, but within a few years, my life had improved dramatically, and I was happily pursuing a positive path of my own choosing. . So the first step is to decide. Start focusing your energy on what you want instead of what you don’t want. Give yourself permission to dream. . . Mary Jaksch: Dreams are related to passion.In your article Passion vs Self-discipline you wrote: Passion is simply an emotional state, and a temporary and unstable one at that. The reason passion gets so much credit is that it helps motivate action. And action is what generates results.In contrast, you wrote in your article The Meaning of Life: Discover Your Purpose:Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about. . What is your view of passion these days? . Steve Pavlina: My understanding of passion has certainly evolved since I first launched StevePavlina.com in 2004. Here are my current thoughts about it. . As you experience life, you’ll find that certain people, activities, situations, and ideas strongly resonate with you while others don’t. Given enough trial and error, you gradually learn which “energies” are compatible with you and which aren’t. When you fill your life with compatible energies, it can be said that you’ve found your passion. In this state you’ll naturally be drawn to take inspired action to achieve your dreams. . Some people stumble upon their passion seemingly by accident, but for most of us it’s not so easy. We have to experiment a lot to discover our best matches in life — the people, activities, and ideas that set our hearts on fire.The role of self-discipline is that we must recognize when we’re stuck in incompatible energies — draining relationships, unfulfilling work, destructive habits, or disempowering spiritual beliefs — and summon the will to get out ASAP. Many people are really bad at disciplining themselves to do that, so they get stuck in situations that are clearly wrong for them. Consequently, they lead low-energy zombie-like lives where escapism (especially through idle entertainment) substitutes for real passion. . The best piece of advice I can give here is that once you’re able to conclude that something isn’t really compatible with your true self, whether it be a job, a relationship, a habit, or something else, QUIT! There’s no honor in remaining loyal to a path that’s clearly wrong for you. Your true passion will not come knocking while you fearfully cling to a poor substitute. If you know your current path is wrong, stop. Just stop. Then try another path.You will surely make some mistakes along the way, but each one will help you clarify what you really want out of life. As you fill your life with compatible energies and release the incompatible ones, you’ll experience ever deeper levels of passion. . For example, before I worked in personal development, I ran a computer game publishing company for 10 years. I enjoyed working in that field when I was in my 20s, but eventually I realized I didn’t want to devote my life to developing entertainment software. Game development was no longer compatible with me. So I made the decision to let it go in order to pursue a new career that I believed would be more compatible with the real me. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m far more passionate about the work I’m doing today. . . Mary Jaksch: You have achieved a lot in life already, Steve. But I’m sure that you’re never going to stop developing further. . What is your next big goal? How and what do you want to develop in the future? . Steve Pavlina: My next big goal is to overhaul my current business model. This is already in progress. . For the past few years, I’ve been generating income mainly from joint-venture promotions, affiliate sales, advertising, and even donations. This model certainly worked well for me as a blogger, but I’ve reached the point where I need a more expansive model. The new business model I envision will include books (Personal Development for Smart People is the first), downloadable products like audio programs, video, speaking, consulting, workshops, and seminars. I might do teleseminars and webinars too. I’ll definitely have to experiment to figure out what works best. . While blogging has been a terrific medium for sharing certain ideas, it has some significant drawbacks. On many occasions I’ve felt unable to express the full richness of some ideas through my blog. Blogging just isn’t a great way to express ideas that are too complex, expansive, or interconnected to compress into an article or short series of articles. For that I need to take advantage of other media that will allow me to explore ideas with much greater depth and expressiveness. . The shift to other media is creating a shift in my business model. Instead of selling advertising, I’ll be selling products. I expect to continue posting free content in my blog, but generating income from product sales will allow me to explore certain topics much more deeply than I’d otherwise be able to. . One major consequence is that this will allow me to turn StevePavlina.com into an ad-free site, so even visitors who only come for the free content will enjoy a less cluttered presentation. . Mary: Thank you for your wonderful answers, Steve! Here at Goodlife Zen we all appreciate your inspiring responses.