This article is not for those who read studies on how to meditate, how to wake up without an alarm, how to live longer, better, and more peacefully.
This article is for those who jump out of bed in the morning and are ready to put out fires, real or imaginary, who are always in the trenches. It is for those who can’t find respite, day or night, to rest their thoughts, to prepare a ‘to-do’ list, or to check off at least half of the one they wrote a week ago. It is for those on whom the daily responsibilities bulldoze to the extent that there is no light at the end of the tunnel in this world. It is for those who have no time for personal development, podcasts, or books. It is for those who don’t believe that attending a training will change their lives. It is for those who roll their eyes every time they hear that team building will make their lives easier, and their team will work better. It is for those who no longer believe in quick-fix solutions and don’t have time to dream of a universal panacea.
I’ve been there. I solved problems day and night, planned, and then discarded all the ideas because daily responsibilities had nothing to do with my dreams of building something grand or making a difference in this world. It didn’t matter what I knew because I encountered experts with whom I didn’t know how to work, with lessons I hadn’t learned yet because I didn’t see their relevance, with training sessions during which I only thought about how many things I could get done or how the person in front of me spoke only from books, while I worked continuously in my factory. What’s more, I set aside everything I had learned before about being good to myself. This was the point where personal development seemed like the biggest waste of time in the world to me. That’s because I had important things to solve, and I couldn’t waste my most valuable resource listening to people who speak from books.
And now I’m here. I realized that during my intense period of work, sleepless nights, tight deadlines, and colleagues with whom I couldn’t get along, what prevented me from reaching burnout or giving up was everything I had learned about myself and others. About how a conversation with Jim Bagnola made me forgive my parents. I realized that the lessons of personal development I went through with people who spoke from experience, not from books, kept me afloat. They helped me not to destroy relationships. I realized that keeping my mind open to learning was among the few things that helped me find out how to overcome the difficult periods in my life. I realized that understanding others, seeing beyond words, actions, or dry messages that I read with a different tone, was what helped me come out stronger from all the tough times. I realized that meeting a deadline or achieving a KPI will always be a source of stress for me as long as I allow it to make me believe it will last forever.
Personal development is a waste of time, yes. Attending training on how to communicate, how to be a leader, how to be less stressed, will always seem like a wasted time if your only and most important goal is to check off all the tasks on your list. But, and here comes a big ‘but,’ the training will keep your mind clear, help you see beyond a tough moment, find the lesson in a conflict, or not raise your voice when emotions take over your mind.
In times of war or continuous stress, the last thing you can think of is that training you were supposed to do a long time ago but didn’t get to it. Philosophy and positive thinking, still water, and meditation are pushed to the back. But in times of peace, an investment in this direction will always get you out of trouble, conflicts with others, and most importantly, conflicts with yourself.