Personal development as social good

Hey there, Social Good. I’ve got a huge bone to pick with you.

No, I’m not talking about all that good stuff you do. I’m fully onboard with feeding the children, curing AIDS, fighting sexism and racism, campaigning for sustainable energy, etc.

I’m talking about a big part of the picture that:

  1. I happen to care a whole lot about, and
  2. you seem to forget about (or neglect).

Yes, personal development.

The individual within society.

Social Good, I know you concern yourself with big problems in society. You want to change the world, and I support you there.

But consider this: the fundamental unit of society is the individual human.

The only reason there is a society is because humans are inherently social. We could choose to be alone, but instead, we choose to connect with others. Through these connections, we self organize. We accomplish extraordinary things, build amazing cultures, and create self-perpetuating societies. We also destroy these things.

The caveat to this is that each of us has the ability to affect the world on a daily basis. This isn’t difficult to understand.

Imagine you are having a shitty day. This shit doesn’t just stay with you. If rubs off onto each person you come into contact with. It makes each of their days just a little bit worse. And then they rub their bit of shit onto others that they come into contact with.

Imagine you have a psychological problem and lash out at your child. You become your childs example in the world, and your psychological problem becomes ingrained within them. They naturally perpetuate this within the world.

It happens with every person every day. We come into contact with each other, and the core of our beings affects the world around us.

Personal development and social good.

Society is a construct we have created as social creatures. Social good is anything we do for the betterment of this social construct.

How do we better this social construct?

We could focus on the rules within the construct. We could focus on technology. We could raise awareness of important issues. Or, we could focus on how one group of humans helps can another group of humans. These are all great.

But you know what else we can do? Focus on the individual human!

This is precisely where personal development comes into the picture.

Personal development lies at the very core of social good. If the fundamental unit of society is the individual human, then a society is only as good as the people in it. Each of us becomes a limiting factor to the greatness of the whole.

So, Social Good. Why do you ignore personal development?

Almost all web sites, summits, conferences, etc. that spout your name don’t seem to touch much on personal development.

My theory is that it is because this isn’t a fun topic to think about.

Actually, it is the opposite of fun.

Why focus on your own problems when you can focus on someone else’s?

It is easier to toil away in a lab studying cancer, fly to Africa to feed the children, or research sustainable energy. We feel good about ourselves when we do these things.

It is far more difficult to sit there alone, peer into the depths of our souls, uncover the demons within own psyches, and then wrestle with these demons. This is scary. It isn’t easy to talk about, and may not feel good at all.

Yet, it is critical that each of us develop ourselves. Our society depends on it.

So, here is my memo to you, Social Good. You are a big idea, and have the ability to mobilize people across the globe. Get your shit together, and help out society by supporting and pushing personal development as a social good. Please.

(If you won’t listen to me, MJ said it pretty well also.)

P.S. This is post number #27 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul. Request an invite now for free access to the public beta!

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