Order the Book
ESSAYS ON QUALITY
What Is Quality?
Quality as a Tool for Success
The Necessary Steps Before Personal Improvement Can Occur
The Difference Between Personal Development and Personal Improvement
Quality is so Easy, Why Settle for Less?
Quality is an Attitude
"I am truly blown away."
"If you're looking for immediate results, try applying the principles presented in this
"This book has inspired me to raise the bar in all areas of my life, and with your simple and realistic
approach, I know that I can!"
Two ways to get more from life
Both personal development and personal improvement deal with growth
or expansion. Yet they are two different approaches to life. Personal development
takes a horizontal viewpoint, while personal improvement takes a vertical viewpoint.
With the first, you are looking at the horizon, and with the second, at the stars.
Clearly, the two complement each other. But they should not be confused.
When you read an article or a book about making your life better, ask yourself
whether it is talking about adding a new capability or direction to your life
(personal development) or about how you can do what you are already doing, but
better (personal improvement). The answer to this question matters, because each
approach needs a different attitude in order to succeed.
Personal development needs an adventurous attitude, with some courage on the
side. Say, for instance, you decide you want to increase your self-confidence.
You're tired of being shy, and want to feel comfortable in groups. Treating
this undertaking as anything but an adventure will get you not very far, not
Adventures are full of risk, and possible injury, and the unknown. They include
blind alleys and monsters and heroes and villains. Above all, adventures take
place in unfamiliar territory. And therein lies the secret to not only surviving
the adventure, but gaining the prize at the end.
When entering the unknown, increase your familiarity with the territory. That is
the essence of personal development. Enter a new, unfamiliar territory, and
become familiar with it. It takes time, and you will stub your toes on unexpected
rocks once in a while, or step into quicksand, but the faster you can become
familiar with the territory, the closer you are to owning the prize.
To use the self-confidence example, you know the prize is out there, of being
able to speak easily with others, and feel comfortable in any situation. Dozens
of articles and books give advice on how to reach that prize. So, pick one that
seems to make sense, and try it. Give it a good, honest try, and see if it works
for you. Some will, some won't, but the only way to find out is to try. Try another,
and another. Be ready for the lumps of embarrassment when one doesn't work,
but also be ready for the glorious feeling of finding one that moves you closer
to the prize.
Personal improvement, on the other hand, needs a quality attitude. A quality
attitude boils down to one simple premise: making things better is a good thing
to do. When you fully understand that, and live by it, personal improvement
follows as surely as day follows night. Any and every aspect of life bows to
the power of that attitude.
It seems so obvious, but it is not. Very, very few people apply that attitude
with any consistency or regularity. It is one of those ideas that everyone agrees
with, but almost no one considers as a guiding principle. They haven't looked
at the corollary, the logical conclusion, of that attitude: making things worse
is not a good thing to do. And most of all, they haven't looked at the fact that
those are the only two choices.
It is a fool's errand to try to make things the same, or keep them the same.
The universe will only allow that for a very short time, before some random
factor will come slamming in to change things. Very seldom does the universe
change things for your benefit; the laws of probability alone dictate against
it. So if you are just trying to keep things the same, in the long run you
are making them worse.
Making things better, then, is not just a good thing to do, it is a necessary
thing to do. What things, you ask? All things. Every action you take, every
email you write, every conversation you hold. The questions should be at the
top of your mind every moment: am I doing this as well as I can? How can I do
this better? How could I have done that better? What do I need to know to do
my job better? Lots of questions, all looking at improvement.
It is really quite astonishing how much life can improve when you make it happen.
Understand the difference
So there you have it, the difference between personal development and personal
improvement. You can walk both roads, concentrating on one or the other at a
given time, or both at the same time. But I hope you find them easier to walk,
now that you have a map of each.
One last note. This essay needs to be read a few times to get everything
from it. Once more with an attitude of adventure, and then again with a quality
attitude, trying to read it better. (Remember that phrase above, "Every
action you take"? Reading is an action. End of hint.) When you completely
understand the difference between personal development and personal improvement,
each will become easier to achieve.
Improve His or Her Life: The Principles of Quality goes into much
greater depth about the quality attitude and making things better than this
little essay can, and makes everything very easy.
Have fun with it.
Let me know how it goes for you.