Personal Development Zeal

I have a challenge for you.

If you want to be more successful, you must devote yourself to continual personal development. Yes, you should set goals.  Yes, you should believe in yourself.  Yes, you should get enough sleep.  But above all, you must zealously upgrade your abilities.  Every day.

We know this, but most people don’t do it.  To understand the importance, compare personal development to compound interest.

This is an example I share with students every year.  You might have seen it before.

Imagine that someone offered you the choice of receiving:

  • $1 million cash


  • one cent on the first day of the month, which doubles every day for a month

In the second case, the formula would look like this:

0.01*2*2*2*2*2 . . . .

In this example I am a risk taker, so I accept the penny-doubled-daily offer.  At the end of the week, I only have 0.64, or 64 cents.  I feel really stupid.  But switching to the other offer—a flat $1,000,000—is not an option.  Too late.

At the end of the second week, I have less than $82.  I feel even more stupid. Then, with only one week left, I still have a little over $10,000 in my account.


After 26 days, the month is almost over, and still only a little over $335,000. Then I finally start to catch up.  Day 27 = over 671,000.  Day 28 = 1,3420,177, finally more than the $1 million alternative.  Day 29 = almost 2.7 million, and Day 30 = almost 5.4 million.



  • if you find an opportunity to earn 100% interest per day, take it
  • if someone offers to double your money every day for a month, choose a month with 31 days, if possible

Here is the Big Idea: this doesn’t only work with money.  The principle works for personal development.   Motivation expert Darren Hardy is a big proponent of this.  He wrote a book called the Compound Effect in 2011.

Your efforts compound, just as with interest, when you consistently work on yourself.  This includes developing a skill, becoming fit, or improving yourself in another way.  You won’t notice a difference for a few weeks.  So it might seem like you have earned only $0.64 in value.

My new favorite quote is from Martha Stewart:

Once you realize that you have identified a passion, invest in yourself. Figure out what you need to know, what kind of experience and expertise you need to develop to do the things that you feel in your heart you will enjoy and that will sustain you both mentally and economically.

Here is what I now recommend people to do with their income:

  1. Save 10%
  2. Give 10% to charity
  3. Spend 10% on self-development

For #3, you can buy books, pay tuition for courses, or hire tutors.  I devour audiobooks from  While I drive to the post office to drop off customer shipments each day, I listen to a book on my iPad.

I have implemented this rule for myself, and I hope you will join me.

Be fierce.  Be kind.  Be knowledge-hungry.

Published by Brock Stout, PhD

Brock has helped many people to be extremely successful. He has lived in various countries and has enjoyed several careers, but is now a writer and a career coach. He sustained mild lead poisoning as a child, resulting in neurological damage. The result was a life of learning disabilities, always struggling to keep up. But he completed two degrees from competitive universities, then advised Wall Street executives in Asia for 15 years. He later earned a PhD and worked as a university professor for six years. He has started three profitable companies in between. So he particularly wants to help those with special learning challenges. Because so many of us now have these special challenges, they are no longer special. But they are challenges. He wants you to TEACH YOURSELF how to be successful.

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