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Personal Development

9 Concepts to learn more about and to develop your Productivity and your Creativity

Note : This article is the third in a series of articles concluding my reading of ten books in the category Productivity & Effectiveness in my Crazy Personal MDA Challenge, after 10 Things You Can Do Tomorrow To Increase Your Productivity and 10 Exceptionals Books about Productivity and Creativity in a Glance .

Contrary to the first article in the series which focused on simple things that can be implemented, here I deal with concepts that seem to me to be profound and interesting, and that require, for the most part, reflection and time to learn more and then use them. Often, these are the foundational concepts in the books from which I drew them – even though there are some that don’t come directly from the ten books in the category – and I think that they all have the potential to change our view of the world with regard to their subject matter. Here they are without further ado:

1 – We are all more efficient when our mind is free of parasitic thoughts that endlessly invade it. When we reach a state of absolute concentration, where we are completely focused on the task at hand, we are capable of miracles, that is to say, of doing things more quickly and efficiently that we could have imagined. It is a state in which we can choose to dedicate ourselves completely to our tasks, without the slightest interruption, parasitic thought, daydream or other source of distraction, while remaining absorbed and in full possession of our faculties. A dream, is it not? It is what practitioners of martial arts call “mind like water” (Mizu-no-kokoro), and athletes call “being in the zone,” or psychologists the flow. Moments like this have no doubt occurred in your life. Were you performing, more satisfied with yourself and your accomplishments? No doubt you were.

It is possible to cultivate habits that allow you to reach this state frequently, to develop a system. GTD recommends a system completely based on writing in order to free our mind from all the thoughts that endlessly interrupt our concentration. Matthieu Ricard, in The Art of Meditation, tells us this is the best way to develop a more attentive mind, conscious of the present moment, free of all emotions and negative thoughts. There are no doubt many other ways to reach this state of mind, and the fact that it is described in multiple disciplines shows clearly that it is an important universal concept and that we will benefit by learning more about it.

To learn more:

2 – It takes years and years to completely master an art, a discipline, or a subject. To become a true master in a field, if that’s your goal, is a bottomless well that you never truly reach.


Lead the Field


Lead the field - Earl Nightingale

One-Sentence Summary : To succeed in life you can’t just count on luck and circumstances; you must find hidden nuggets inside yourself rather than trapsing around the world in vain looking for them, have goals and desires and define them clearly, have an attitude that sets you up for success and love yourself, use your brain as a resource for reflection every day, understand that our rewards in life always correspond to the services we deliver, learn without ceasing and continue to grow, develop your vocabulary and mastery of language, leave the flock to act on your own, understand your value and the value of several tens of millions of euros, clearly define the amount of money you want to earn, economize or invest and save for your retirement, have a personal library that is rich and relevant, do your best every day and, one by one, accomplish the tasks that will lead you to be successful in your goals, specialize in something; then you will be in the top 5% of humanity who find themselves at the top of the success pyramid — whatever that is.

By Earl Nightingale, 102 pages, published in 2007 (book) and in 1986 (audio cassette)

Summary and Book Report:

I am not going to write a biography – even a short one – for all the authors in my PMBA challenge, but Earl Nightingale seems to be a rather interesting personality, and atypical enough to warrant an exception:

Earl Nightingale is a famous orator in the United States, and an example of what self education can do for someone who starts out with plenty of things going against him. Born in 1921, raised by his mother who was left alone with his two brothers, he grew up in a poor Los Angeles suburb in the middle of the depression. Wishing to understand why some people are poor and miserable and others are not, and not finding anyone in his acquaintance who could answer, he began his quest for answers and knowledge in the local library, which would lead him particularly to a study of philosophy, psychology and the great religions for decades. After the war, during which he survived, with 12 marines, an attack on the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (1103 dead out of 1511 crew members), he worked in radio and created one of the first audio books, The Strangest Secret, which is a best seller and sold more than a million copies. He went on to found, with Lloyd Conant, the Nightingale-Conant Corporation, the first company to offer audio cassettes about personal development. He died in 1989.

Lead the field is a collection of advice about personal development, originally only offered in audio format. Fortunately, a book offering an exact transcription was recently published, which allowed me to read it and to offer you a review of it today – it is a lot harder for me to understand spoken English than written, and while audio books have undeniable advantages, such as being able to do other things while you read them, and use the time in transit or traveling for self improvement, I much prefer a good book when it comes to soaking up knowledge, reflecting and taking notes. I love to write post-it notes which I stick on the paragraphs that speak to me – difficult to do that with an audio CD.

In this book, which is enthusiastic and brimming with energy, Earl Nightingale insists on the fact that success in life is not due to luck and circumstances, but to principles based on good sense and habits that are easy to acquire on the condition that you practice them every day. I will paint you a panoramic, chapter by chapter:


Personal Development for Smart People


The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth 

Personal Developpement for Smart People - Steve Pavlina

One Sentence Summary: Being happy means being in perfect harmony with the universal principals of Truth, Love and Power, and their derivatives, Unity, Authority, Courage and Intelligence; this book guides us to be better versions of ourselves by showing us the theory and practice of each of these principles.

By Steve Pavlina, 250 pages, published in 2008.

Summary and Book Report:

(Note : This book is not part of the  PMBA challenge)

Do you know Steve Pavlina? Video game programmer who was somewhat successful in the shareware domain – these are programs that you can try for 30 days before you purchase them – in 2004 he launched his  blog about personal development with the ambition of becoming an important player in this sector, even though he had no references, no related degree, and had not written any books on the subject. But for 10 years he had read about 50 books a year on personal development and, feeding off this gigantic body of accumulated knowledge, he began to make connections between seemingly disparate concepts, and to innovate by testing and making mistakes. After two years, his blog was bringing in about $1,000 a day in advertising and affiliation revenue without him having ever spent a single penny on publicity or marketing!

I am myself a fan of Steve Pavlina and have read most of his blogs, which recommend hundreds of articles on a wide variety of subjects, of which some are pure jewels sparkling in the middle of a pile of gold nuggets – don’t miss his best-ofs in the left-hand column, which are all must-read (they are really worth their weight in peanuts – as we say in France).

So Steve Pavlina published his first book about personal development, which is named after his blog Personal Development for Smart People. I am one of 400 happy bloggers who received a free advance copy, and I read it as quickly as possible, slipping it between the books for my challenge.

First of all, even though there are numerous passages from his blog, this book is clearly not a compilation of his best articles: Steve goes much further by recommending a personal development system, which I would go so far as to call a philosophical system, in as much as it is coherent, profound and universal, and, at the same time, practical and progressive. I will paint you a picture.