In 1942, Ron Plomley invented a radio program where celebrity guests were asked to imagine being stranded on a deserted island. In this imaginary scenario they were permitted to take eight of their favorite songs/pieces of music with them for company. What would they choose and why?
Amazingly, Desert Island Discs, has been running on BBC radio ever since and its enduring popularity got me thinking. But not about music.
Being a fan of personal development, I wanted to apply the scenario to this genre. However, I wasn’t going to choose specific books. Instead, I wanted to focus on key concepts and principles – I often find these more memorable than a particular title. Then, I wanted to narrow down the number from eight to three – easier to remember and apply. Finally, I wanted to leave the deserted island and instead, use modern life as the arena into which any person could take these principles and use them to live an amazing life.
So, in no particular order, here are the ONLY 3 personal development principles you’ll ever need. Each one has a brief description of what they mean, how they can be applied and an example of their use.
Principle 1: Pareto’s Law
Also known as the 80/20 principle, this is about making the most efficient use of your time. Originally observed by Vilfredo Pareto, a 19thcentury Italian economist, this principle states that you receive 80 per cent of your rewards from only 20 per cent of your efforts. It’s counter intuitive. Conventional wisdom teaches us that if you work hard then you will see results. No ratio is given but the common assumption, passed on by our parents and teachers, is that this works on a 50/50 basis – you get out what you put in.
Pareto’s law teaches us something very different. You may struggle, work long hours, bust a gut and still only see very meager results – millions of office and factory workers can testify to this. Therefore, the person who wants to live an amazing life must not follow conventional wisdom. Ironically, laziness may actually work. So long as you know your areas of greatest productivity, and are able to milk these for everything they’re worth, you can be insanely productive with only a little effort.
Although there is no empirical evidence to validate this theory, a thorough analysis of your own work and life output will lead you to draw a startling conclusion. The world doesn’t work the way we’ve been led to believe. Have you ever noticed how 20% of your blog posts bring in 80% of your shares and traffic? Did you ever realize that you get 80% of your social enjoyment from only 20% of your social circle? The 80/20 principle can be applied to every area of your life but its message is always the same, eliminate that which is unproductive or unenjoyable and focus on the areas that bring you the greatest results.
Principle 2: As Within, So Without
Also known as The Law of Attraction, it is possibly the most powerful of all principles. Our western upbringings have fooled us. We’re taught to only value what we can see, touch, hear and quantify. The physical ‘reality’ is where it’s at and you succeed by focusing on facts, working hard to change outcomes and taking constant action.
The ‘As Within, So Without’ principle states something completely different. It tells us that the world we live in is merely a reaction to our inner world of thoughts, feelings and beliefs. This means that you must look within for the cause of every event you experience and every circumstance that prevents or aides your advance.
For some of you, this is nothing new. The Secret, published in 2006, and selling over 19 million copies to date, brought The Law of Attraction to the mainstream. However, have you ever taken the time to put it into practise? For a mind attached to the material it’s not easy.
First off, an acute awareness of the thoughts you think, the emotions you feel and the beliefs that create your limitations must be developed. Then you must harmonize this inner world with a very simple maxim, ‘only light can break through darkness’. Don’t indulge your doubts, give no mental attention to your fears and let your mind entertain no confusion. Keep it simple, be childlike. Feel happy for happiness’s sake; allow the joy of life to burst out of your being and pursue that which inspires.
Persist with this discipline and you’ll marvel at how easy life can be. You don’t need to fight and struggle to get ahead. You just need to feel good and allow a timeless principle to take care of the rest.
Principle 3: Let go of the need to control
Although less well known than the previous two, this principle is no less effective. Tyler Durden tells us, ‘I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve and let the chips fall where they may’. And Wayne Dyer advises us to, ‘Let go and let God’.
Letting go of the need to control is about connecting with the deeper wisdom of your subconscious. Have you ever stopped to think about the intelligence that keeps your heart beating, your lungs breathing and regulates thousands of other large and small functions in your body and mind? Whether you call it God, Infinite Intelligence, the Life Force, Universal Energy or the subconscious mind doesn’t really matter. What does is recognizing that you are connected to a power beyond your waking consciousness.
This power works at speeds we can’t comprehend and is limitless in its understanding, intuition and creativity. It contains the solution to all our problems but most people will never use it because of their misguided need for control.
Either having little faith in their own ability, or being desperate for immediate answers, many try to control the outcomes of their life. This is a big mistake. It breaks off the connection with the deeper wisdom of your subconscious mind and leaves you, the individual, alone to solve problems with so many complexities that even the largest computer would struggle.
A classic example of this can be seen with people who experience prolonged insomnia. Often, they attempt to control their sleeping habits by setting an overly strict sleep schedule, trying to force themselves to sleep when going to bed or waking up in the middle of the night and being overly concerned with factors like temperature, light and noise. None of this works. Instead, the only way the insomniac gains relief is by letting go of all attempts to control their sleeping habits (i.e. no longer worrying or thinking about sleep). When this happens they make way for the deeper wisdom of their subconscious mind to step in and peacefully regulate their sleep pattern.
In the end, there is no answer that we can consciously control or find. The change happens because we relax and demonstrates a belief in receiving a positive outcome. This approach will see you experiencing harmonious outcomes with all kinds of problems ranging from IBS and chronic pain to important business decisions and creative ideas for writing, painting and composing.
A Final Word
Try to be flexible in your use of these principles. Each applies to different aspects and areas of your life. One day you may need to focus on letting go of an outcome you’re trying too hard to force into being, the next day, you may need to build your positive energy to ensure you’re in the perfect state to attract the result you desire. Always be aware of what the situation requires.
And finally, what do you think? Leave a comment in the section below and let me know whether you agree with my selection or feel there are other principles more worthy of mentioning.
Joe writes for the Dreamers. He believes everybody should live a life doing the things they love (and get paid to do it!) and have the freedom to set their own agenda. For more information please visit his website www.screwthesystemnow.com and check out his critically acclaimed book Escape the System Now*. He also works as a hypnotherapist and tennis coach.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.