"A small step today puts you in a position to take a slightly bigger step the next day, and then that puts you in a position to take a slightly bigger step the next day. You do that for two or three years? You're starting to stride." - Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, Canadian Clinical Psychologist, Professor, and Author.
It's a word we see and hear often from self-help gurus online.
But what does it mean? Moreover, how does one self-develop?
Let's start by looking at the definition of self-development.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-development is a noun defined as "the process by which a person's character or abilities are gradually developed."
At first, it seems like a simple definition, but there's a key part in it that I think is very overlooked in the self-development community.
What is it? Well, it's the "gradually developed" part.
When we embark on the journey of making our lives better, we typically have a 'zero to hero' mindset where we want to jump from point A to point Z as fast as possible.
Ask anyone who's developed themselves (doesn't have to be a celebrity. It can be anyone you know) and they will tell you that it is impossible to go from 'zero to hero'.
Moreover, we like to look at where successful people are now and compare ourselves to them. At first, it could have some merit by motivating us to tell ourselves, "Hey, would you look at that? They're successful. I can do that too."
But it's a risky way to motivate yourself because you could very easily embark on a journey that makes you walk backward rather than forward. How, might you ask?
You could easily compare your current state to someone else's current state, when self-development is, as the definition explained to "gradually develop" yourself. You'd be doing the complete opposite of that when you focus on the success of others rather than your own.
One of the greatest rules I've ever enforced on myself has been one of the rules that Dr. Jordan B. Peterson wrote in his best-selling book "12 Rules for Life".
His literal rule is (which was rule #4 in case you're wondering) "Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today".
This rule has single-handedly changed my perspective on self-development and, thus, how I self-develop as a person.
When explaining this rule on Joe Rogan's podcast, Peterson said that comparing yourself to who you were yesterday is essentially aiming low enough so you can "give yourself a reasonable possibility of success" as he said.
But what the heck does that mean?
It means that when you want to self-develop, you know there are small things you can do that will legitimately improve yourself and your life, as Peterson explains. You do so by giving yourself small goals to do those things that you know you should do.
However, if you focused on the large things you should do, you would give yourself large tasks, so there's a chance you could fail at reaching them. Thus, you give yourself small daily goals to achieve.
Having an "aim low enough" mentality ensures that you constantly achieve small goals every day, comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, as you get a little bit better every day.
Peterson stated "A small step today puts you in a position to take a slightly bigger step the next day, and then that puts you in a position to take a slightly bigger step the next day. You do that for two or three years? You're starting to stride."
So stride. But stride in a way where you focus on developing yourself based upon who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Your destination is Success with a capital "S", and your path is self-development. So, develop yourself a little bit every day, and be the self-developing traveler who takes one secure step at a time, reaching the destination with full conviction in the journey, and in the destination.