Personal Development - Realising our Potential
Roland Böhringer is a lecturer and founder member of the
German Template Network. In this article, Roland explores the terrain of personal
development and uses a trace of recommended film clips to highlight aspects
of the journey of personal development. Every so often you will find a small
note in the text that says ‘film prompter’. This refers to one of
the film clips that will be described here, and which
will offer imagery and example to what is being talked about in the text.
Personal Development is an entirely natural process. In every child we witness
the journey of discovery - of the world around them, of their bodies, their
senses and language. They learn to walk, to speak, to understand and to question.
This is automatic and natural, but as adults we find the ability to handle change
less easy and development a more challenging prospect, unless we take a determined
position about the continuing potential for development. (film-prompter
1). I believe that personal development is a natural process for everyone,
no matter what their age, and it is the possibility of conscious development
that separates us from all other forms of life. What then is personal development
and why do we need to consider it? This article is not addressing skills based
training offered today to help with a career or to put oneself on the stage,
but is looking at a more fundamental and comprehensive view of development.
And it’s about nothing less than coming to grips with the question and
quest of - Why is the human on earth? (film-prompter
understand something in a fuller way, it needs to be considered and placed inside
a larger context than itself. It is usually only then that it is possible to
understand its nature, purpose and function. Some examples follow to try to
explain this further;
A. To identify the task and function of a specific type of algae you have to
consider all the influences in the same ecology, the other species, the amount
of light, other organisms in the water, the temperature, concentrations of phosphates
or oxygen, water pollution, and many other factors.
B. To understand the stomach it is necessary to consider the whole human design,
including understanding something about the circulation, the nervous system,
the digestive tract, the endocrine system, the effects of different food, and
also the effects of other organs, such as the spleen, kidney and brain.
In the same way, if we are to more fully understand human development we need
look to the function, task and significance of the human in a much broader context:
1. The Human between Microcosm and Macrocosm - some framework facts:
- The atmosphere on our earth is dependent on an exact and precise placing
in the solar system. An orbit akin to that of Mars or Venus would destroy
all life on earth because of the extremes of heat or cold it would expose
- If we compare the size of this planet with a soap bubble, the atmosphere
would be as thin as the skin of the bubble. And yet this thin skin of air
has an exact chemical make up that enables us to breathe and to live.
- Our brain contains as many cells as there are stars in the Milky Way. Each
cell can have up to 1000 connections. It makes you wonder whether we have
been equipped with such a mega-system simply to think about ourselves or
to fill in our income tax return. Neurophysiological estimates place 85%
of our brain as not actively engaged. What potential is awaiting discovery?
engineering involved in setting up the exact conditions for our existence here
in this world are beyond belief. This surely begs the question ‘why?’
Why this effort? What is the human for? How do I view my own existence as a
human being? Are we here for ourselves, or did Earth create the conditions for
our existence in order for us to contribute something special, something the
Earth cannot do herself?
These are just some few small examples and understandings that suggest that
our existence is the result of a great design and is not accidental.
2. Change and Personal Development
Change is a feature of life; part of its fundamental make-up. Everyone knows
life is dynamic, vibrating, energetic and not always foreseeable. It is a continuing
process, always moving on, nothing in itself ever finished or staying unchanged. ‘Panta
Rhei!’ the ancient Greeks call to us, ‘All is flowing.’
We experience this in the constant flow of our thoughts, feelings, and moods.
Each day offers the chance for change. Each hour, each minute. (film-prompter
Change can take an upward or downward direction. It can lead to growth or it
can lead to decay. Both are part of life. However the human can consciously
decide how to handle this change. (film-prompter 4)
They who do not tense and resist, but accept and welcome change in their lives
are more able to handle life and to flow within its ever meandering stream.
3. Obstacles and Building Blocks of Personal Development
happens, but we are either one of those who consciously live their life or,
as Heidegger put it, “we are being lived” (film-prompter
5) “Persona” in Latin means “mask”. So there is
an aspect of personal development which is to do with recognising the masks
we wear, often as an adopted portrayal taken on so that we do not appear different,
and conform to the normal and acceptable - which can arrest us. In this respect
we end up with far less individuality than we may think. This in turn means
that people become removed from their natural selves with many consequences.
As a German newspaper wrote, “Never has a culture been technically more
advanced, and never has the number of psychological deficiencies been higher
There is an increasing instinct in people today to seek change. However, change
requires development, which in turn requires a strong resolve and the necessary
know-how. The first question facing someone wishing to enter a journey of personal
development is: What do I want? What is important to me in life? It is from
such questions that the maxims and principles of a life are fashioned.
This later prompts lines of enquiry concerning ways of living in relation to
other people, the planet and other living creatures, and more.
A later step involves reviewing the way we live our lives in relation to the
idea of leaving this world a better place than when we arrived. (film-prompter
- Confirming the qualities and aptitudes in others when it is due
- Intending and living in the way of causing no harm towards other people,
the environment, nature and all living beings
- To live a life that by its application gives tribute to the powers that
sustain life (whatever name you wish to give them) and to which we owe our lives.
it is important to be able to grow into the new changes and leave
behind what blocks those changes. One way to assist with this is, for four
weeks, to remind yourself every day what you want to change. Give yourself
ways to remember to do this, such as a note on the bathroom mirror or an object,
deliberately placed on a spot where you can’t ignore it, such as a tin
of beans on the bedside table.
What we are able to leave behind determines our next step in this journey.
Each step constitutes a new chance to reset and take control of our lives,
and as we then move on to new goals there is always an opportunity to refine
on what we did previously. We are an aggregate of all we do in our lives, and
it is the why and the how that forms our fundamental character. Personal development
works if it is along the natural pathways that are true to the original concept
of human existence and its design.
Personal Development improves creativity, reliability, perception, depth,
reactivity and personal religion. Personal Development demands fairness towards
yourself as well as understanding, tolerance, new knowledge, discipline and
consistency. It needs time and patience and certainly doesn’t happen
quickly, but on the basis of one step at a time. It is, however, accompanied
by self-respect and a deep inner settlement and joy for life. Personal Development
makes life exciting, scents the air, enriches experience and strengthens belief
and shows how unique and worth living life is.