Personal Development IS The Goal

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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I came across a great article in Forbes Magazine, entitled, “What Every Leader Must Know About Personal Development.”

As someone who views the entire world as her classroom, I was intrigued. 

The article was written by August Turak, a successful entrepreneur and author of “Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks:  One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity.” 

Many years ago Turak went to live and study with the Trappist Monks, a community that has existed for 1,600 years. Turak was seeking answers to his own spiritual challenges, but while he was there, he was amazed at the successful business model that enabled the Monastery to flourish. 

One of Turak’s realization is that for many leaders, there is an inverse relationship between success and the personal development that occurs to achieve the success. 

Personal development is not a tool for reaching a bigger goal. Instead, becoming a “complete human being is already the biggest and most noble goal you can aspire to,” said Turak.

Most of us are on a quest of continuous self-improvement, with the goal of attaining greater success. “If I attend this school, if I obtain this certification, if I achieve this milestone, then I will be able to attain another level of achievement.” The personal development is often tied to a desired outcome that moves us from one level to another.  

I’ve often thought about going for my PhD, or obtaining the Harvard Business School Officer/President Management Certificate. What has stopped me is the long-term ROI.  However, if I make my personal development the central mission of my life rather than merely the means to a more limited end, then the ROI is actually a more enriched and better educated existence, rather than just more value in the marketplace. 

The idea of continuous personal development applies to more mundane scenarios as well.  Being on time for work, for example, is not just a common business courtesy. It is a way to build self-discipline, and a way to show compassion and respect to customers. In other words being on time is not a result of personal development; it is a form of personal development.

Personal and organizational success is a subset of a larger overarching mission, which is to become the best human beings we can possibly be. Business success is the by-product and trailing indicator of living for a higher purpose. The business success of the Trappist Monks is living proof that when we seek first personal development, everything else will take care of itself. 

What do you do for personal development? Do you see your personal development as a larger goal which leads to success?  Or do you believe your success drives your personal development? A subtle but significant difference. 

I encourage you to visit August’s website (  for more insight on the connection between personal development and success.

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