Personal Development for Smart People

by Raymond David Salas

When I first received a copy of Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina from the publisher Hay House to review, I must admit that I didn't really know what to expect.

I have been a regular reader of Steve's very popular blog, but I wasn't sure how his conscious pursuit of personal growth would translate into book form.

Having completed my initial reading of the book, I am happy to say that Steve has successfully created a manual for consciously evolving in all areas of your life.


Personal Development for Smart People

In Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina sets out to answer two basic questions:

  • What does it mean for us to grow as conscious human beings?
  • How do we intelligently guide that process? 

Specifically, he went in search of a common pattern behind all successful personal growth efforts, a complete set of core principles that were universally applicable.

So, what did he find?

"It took me almost two and a half years, but I eventually found the solution I was looking for. It consists of just three core principles: truth, love, and power. Four secondary principles are directly derived from the first three: oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. The intelligent, 'smart people' approach to personal development is the direction that moves you into greater alignment with truth, love, and power." - Steve Pavlina

At first glance, these concepts may seem too general to apply to one's life. 

But, as a former computer programmer, Steve carefully and skillfully defines each core and secondary principle; explores possible blocks to the expression of each principle; then, offers specific steps explaining how to integrate each principle more fully into your life. Finally, in the second section of the book, he shares how to practically apply these principles to our:

  • habits
  • career
  • money
  • health
  • relationships
  • spirituality

"The goal of this book is to teach you how to bring all areas of your life into alignment with these universal principles. The more your life aligns with these principles, the smarter you become. Applying what you learn from this book won't be easy for you. It hasn't been easy for me, either. Real conscious growth is seldom undemanding, but it's always worthwhile." - Steve Pavlina

Amen, brother.



The Core Principles of Personal Development for Smart People

  • Truth

In his book, Steve begins by exploring the principle of truth. Here, he says that "one of the most important skills to develop in the area of personal growth is the ability to admit the whole truth to yourself, even if you don't like what you see and even if you feel powerless to change it." 

Why is this so important?

He explains that "when you fully accept reality, you'll begin making better decisions because they'll be based on truth instead of fiction. Once you fully surrender to what is, you can finally begin to create what you want."

  • Love

The second core principle is love. Steve defines love as connection, communication, and communion. 

To consciously grow, he offers guidelines on how to master the art of forming connections with others, communicating more deeply, and dissolving the illusion that we are separate from others.

  • Power

In discussing the final core principle power, he reminds us that we each have the ability to consciously and deliberately create the world around us. 

However, the first step may be the hardest: accepting total responsibility for our life. That's right, 100%. All aspects. No exceptions.

Here, he speaks frankly:

"No one is coming to rescue you. No one will hand you the career of your dreams, and no one will solve your relationship problems. No one will lose the extra fat on your body. If you don't proactively solve your own problems, they'll never be solved. If you want different results, you must go out and create them yourself. Accepting full responsibility for your life means being willing to do what's necessary to create the outcome you want. You must be willing to pay the price to meet your needs and fulfill your desires. You must actively make your life happen instead of passively letting it all play out. You'll surely make mistakes along the way, but you must never give up on yourself."


The Wisdom and Quotes of Steve Pavlina

If you are not familiar with Steve Pavlina and his writing, you can see that he is a "straight-shooter." He doesn't hold back, pull any punches, or tell you what you want to hear. But, he is very honest, direct, and fully committed to serving the greater good by helping each of us consciously grow. 

In Personal Development for Smart People, he openly shares his path of how he went from being in jail at age 19 to eventually becoming the most successful personal development blogger on the internet with over two million readers every month.

Here are some of my favorite insights, quotes, and wisdom from Steve in this book:


On true desires:
"Most people are out of touch with their true desires. They allow others to decide what they should want, or they settle for what they think they can get. They buy into the socially conditioned nonsense that the purpose of life is to work at a meaningless job for decades, spend themselves into debt, distract themselves with mindless entertainment, get married, have children, retire broke, and then quietly die. Consequently, they live desperate shadow lives, forever powerless and unhappy. Don't succumb to the illusion of false desire. Only true desire summons true power."

On fulfilling desires:
"As adults we often forget that the best way to fulfill our desires is to walk right up to whatever interests us and engage with it directly. Instead, we create all kinds of silly rules that limit our ability to connect with what we want."

On goals:
"Your goals don't actually need to be specific, clear, and measurable. You don't need crisp deadlines, and you don't need detailed step-by-step plans. You simply need a burning desire to take action. Only goals that align with your truest, deepest desires can summon that kind of power. Pick goals that are so exciting to you that making a serious effort feels almost effortless. You'll work hard, but it won't seem like hard work because you'll be so inspired. For the most part, you'll just be doing what you love to do."

On courage:
"Courage is an essential element of conscious living because it enables us to choose long-term gain in the face of short-term obstacles."

On confidence:
"Real confidence is the deep, soulful recognition of a certain truth that you're a powerful being. When you gaze upon your power through the lens of truth, you become naturally confident."

On relationships:
"If you feel disconnected with your true self, you can expect your interpersonal relationships to suffer from disconnection as well. If you want your human relationships to be more loving and accepting, you must learn to love and accept more aspects of yourself."

"One of the best things you can do to attract new people into your life is to focus on your own creative self-expression. By expressing yourself authentically, you draw others to you, making it easier to form compatible new relationships."

On loving others:
"Loving other people and loving yourself are ultimately the exact same thing."

On connecting with others:
"You can connect with people very easily by tuning in to the connection that already exists. Instead of having to break the ice with someone, assume that there is no ice. On some level you're already connected."

"Social conditioning teaches you to focus on the risk of rejection when approaching someone you've never met. Oneness teaches you to focus on the opportunities for connection."

On money:
"The best way to earn money is through honest contribution. Do what you feel is best for everyone, not just yourself. Align your financial results with the highest good of all."

"Ironically, when I stopped treating money as an end unto itself, I had more of it flowing through my life than ever before."

"You can provide tremendous value to others by cultivating your own creative self-expression, thereby generating all the income you desire. Instead of trying to get money, focus your efforts on creating and delivering value to others, and plenty of resources will flow back to you in return."

"In order for our financial goals to be sound, they must reflect our truest, deepest desires. A goal is worthless if it doesn't empower you."

"Perhaps the best path to wealth is to release your fear of being poor. Realize that life is still worth living, regardless of how much money you have."

On business:
"The point of business is to create and deliver value for the benefit of all, not to extract it at someone else's expense."

On making mistakes:
"When you make mistakes, do your best to forgive yourself, forgive others, and move on."

On your greatest gift:
"Your greatest gift to the world is to share who you really are." 


To learn more, please check out Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina.