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Review: Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina Book

How many of you have heard of Steve Pavlina?
He is well known for his personal development blog in addition to his personal experiments on things such as raw foodism and polyphasic sleep (see his blog if you want to know more), Steve is certainly an interesting guy. Lately, he has been working on his first book, Personal Development for Smart People, which I have been looking forward to for a while now, after he planned to write one a number of years ago, but that plan got put on hold. The result has recently been released, due to be released on the 14th of October, but ended up being released early.

The book sets out a ‘system’ for personal development that is extremely unique. Although I have not read huge collections of personal development books, I have read a few and this seems far different from anything else I have read. As Steve says, many other systems are flawed in that they only address one aspect of personal development. Steve’s system is designed to be totally universal and applies to all aspects of life, from health to wealth and relationships. I’ll try not to give away all of Steve’s secrets, but I will certainly try and give you an idea of what the book is about in this review:

The Triangle                                    
I think the first part of the book, if read on its own would not make much sense to some people. It may seem difficult to slot together and understand, so if you do read the book and struggle to keep up during the first part, don’t panic! You are going to be trying to work out how it fits into your life, and this all becomes clear after reading the second section. It is like having to be taught the theory first before you can start applying it to situations.

In terms of the theory taught, the first part of the book is based around the idea of a personal development triangle, which has the following seven characteristics around it:


Primary Principles

Secondary Principles

The idea is that two of the secondary characteristics add together to produce one of the primary characteristics, with every characteristic being something that we must master in order to develop ourselves. These can be applied to all aspects of life, from your grades to your wealth.

Part Two – The Application
The second part of the book, much like many other personal development books, looks at how to apply the knowledge that you have gained to various aspects of your life, looking at six different areas in total. This part really helped me to understand the basic principles behind the book, and how they apply to real life.

The chapters work through in a very digestible way. It is divided into the seven subheadings or principles, with each section of the chapter looking at a different principle. The chapters often prompt you to question things, examples being in the Money and Love section – “Would anyone cry if I went out of business” – looking at whether your work is truly meaningful. These questions can be very insightful, and beyond what paragraphs of writing could provide, really inspire you to question in a way that is beneficial to you personally.

I found Personal Development for Smart People to be an excellent book. It is well worth checking out Steve’s blog first to get an idea of some of his writings, but don’t expect it to be the same thing. It is certainly original, and offers a really unique insight from a guy who has spent so much of his life focusing on his and others personal development. Some students might find this book to be a bit much for them, if you are the type that is happy to just get on with schoolwork, then this book probably is not for you, but if you want to take your personal development into your own hands, this book is a good place to start. Don’t be surprised if you have to pause when reading however; and read chapter by chapter, there is a lot of information condensed into this book, and it may take some time to get to grips with!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free review copy of Personal Development for Smart People in eBook format in order to write this review.


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One Response to “Review: Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina”

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