The Two Main Goals of Personal Development
Bill Cottringer

“Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long-term results.” ~Anonymous.

Our personal development efforts in learning, growing and improving are aimed at increasing two very important capacities: (a) our understanding of life and people, and (b) our ability to love unconditionally. Gains in these two primary goals have the valuable benefit of bringing us more success and happiness in life. This happens when our increased understanding and capacity to love unconditionally makes us more likeable, in developing the important qualities of honesty, positivism, humor, humility, empathy, acceptance, agreeability and caring.

As young children, our curiosity of everything brings us a solid foundation of understanding of how to be successful dealing with life and people. Robert Fulgham’s earlier book “All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten” is reliable proof of this. Unfortunately, some people lose this curiosity drive to understand when they become adults. That is when the “Been There, Done That” T-shirts take over. And then comes failure and unhappiness without the needed understanding to overcome that unproductive detour.

Understanding seems to proceed growth in dealing with the real obstacle—how to increase our capacity to love unconditionally. Especially when we don’t feel like it. We get our practice with children and pets, where unconditional love is more natural and easier to give. But if we can’t seem to love children and pets unconditionally, then it is even more of a challenge relating to other adults in an intimate relationship.

This roadblock is because sooner or later, annoying conditions such as—value differences, bad habits, addictions, unpleasant dispositions and moods, aspirations or lack of them, physical problems and mental disorder—start to overshadow people’s good parts that attracted you in the first place. These “conditions” are especially difficult to accept and love unconditionally when they gradually become destructive and irreversible disdain starts to set in.

So, it seems as though increasing your understanding of life and people is the only way to increase your capacity to love unconditionally. It is through more understanding and getting to a better perspective of the annoying and potentially destructive differences or conditions people bring to relationships that increases the acceptance necessary for unconditional love.

And of course, putting things in their proper perspective always lessens their unpleasant sting and adverse power over your contentment. Understanding that another person is a victim of their own irrational thinking is easier to accept than being convinced they are mistreating you intentionally because they don’t like you for who you are.

How do we get back to the wonderfully refreshing curiosity of being a child? That is a question worth asking and answering. Here are seven tips I have learned to keep using my own curiosity to perpetually grow my understanding and ability to love unconditionally:

• Nothing enjoyable seems to happen when you let your ego get in the way of being too much in awe of yourself, instead of being humble in awe of life and people. This forced shift in focus doesn’t come easy, but it is the only way to keep curiosity alive and well.

• This path back to humility leads to a very powerful realization—that no matter how much effort you have put forth to know and understand all you know, there is always much, much more to know and understand.

• This realization helps you accept the important reality that all you think you know may not necessarily be so, which in turn opens a closed mind. Then you are able to begin to learn what you need to know to be as successful as you want to be.

• Next comes an essential insight—that failure is something to embrace and understand better, rather than something to avoid at all costs. Understanding failure is the real key to understanding how to correct your approach to be more successful the next opportunity,
armed this time with the right knowledge to do so.

• Now the irony of all this progress is that it deludes you to believe that you are making these gains in personal development all on your own. Hence your ego size enlarges greatly and really starts to get in the way of increasing further understanding and the ability to love life and people unconditionally.

• Fortunately true humility returns with the certainty of the most important reality there is—that we are just a small part of something much bigger and more powerful, regardless of what you call it. You know it exists and can’t ever deny or forget that.

• Finally, you become who you are from what you read and the people you hang out with. So read a lot of good books and articles, and hang out with the right people who share your dreams and love you unconditionally.

Don’t get me wrong here; this is not a smooth process that happens just once linearly, without some bleeding, bruises and broken bones along the way. Rather, it is a difficult, painful, cyclical and recurring process, like tightening the lug nuts on a car wheel until you finally get them tight enough to not vibrate off. But at the end of the day, it requires a leap of faith that you have used the best information you have available to make the best choices that you could have under the circumstances in closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. And, there is always tomorrow that seems to happen quicker than we expect, so do what you can now rather than later.

“A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure. ~”Unknown.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or