About Steve Pavlina
In January 1991, my life was going downhill fast. I'd just been arrested for felony grand theft after a few prior arrests for misdemeanors. I got expelled from college because I ditched most of my classes. I played video games for up to 18 hours at a time. I'd fallen into a pattern of self-destructive, out-of-control behavior.
I didn't know how at the time, but I decided I had to make some serious changes. I really didn't want to spend my adult years wearing orange pajamas.
I began listening to personal development audio programs, and I liked the positive messages they shared. Sometimes I listened to them for 2-3 hours per day. This had a major effect on my attitude, thoughts, and beliefs. I gradually began setting goals, working on my self-discipline, and overcoming bad habits.
Soon I started over at a new university. Thanks to all this positive conditioning, I was able to take triple the normal course load, and I graduated in only 3 semesters with a double major in computer science and mathematics. At graduation I was presented with special award given to the top computer science student. I was amazed at the powerful transformation I went through as a result of exposing myself to daily inspiration.
After graduating I started a computer games business and ran it for 10 years. For the first 5 years, it was a real struggle. I sank into debt and went bankrupt. But I didn't give up because I understood the value of persistence. I kept going and eventually turned the business around. For the next 5 years, it did very well. Our games won several awards, and we had a write-up and photo published in the New York Times.
As I began to appreciate the amazing payoffs from investing in personal growth, I devoured many more books in the field and eventually read more than 1000 of them. I listened to audio programs and went to seminars to keep learning and growing. Soon I was formulating my own insights to build upon this knowledge -- and to connect the dots between what I'd learned from others and what I'd experienced for myself.
Paying It Forward
I felt a strong desire to "pay it forward", so in 1999 I started writing articles to share what I learned with others.
At first I wrote articles on software development, business, and sales. Later I branched out into time management, organization, and success. I loved receiving feedback from people who applied my ideas to their lives and businesses with positive results. This motivated me to share even more.
I volunteered to serve for a year as Vice President and then another year as President of the non-profit Association of Software Professionals, which gave me an even greater opportunity to give back to the community. Years later I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I'd been voted into the ASP Hall of Fame.
I also launched a discussion forum for game developers on my website. It became very popular, and I loved bringing people together to share ideas, lessons, and insights so that all of us could grow and improve. After several years I handed off that community to some of the members; the last time I checked, it was still up and running.
I began getting invitations to speak at software conferences, and I hosted an indie roundtable for a few years at the Game Developers' Conference. Since indie developers didn't get much respect at the GDC at that time, our roundtable was always assigned the very last time slot on the final day of the conference. I turned that into an advantage though. Since no one needed the room after us, I invited the attendees to stay and hang out as long as they wanted to, or until the cleaning staff finally kicked us out. As a result our 1-hour roundtables turned into 3-hour pow-wows, and people got a lot of value from them. Years later one of the attendees told me that those sessions and the discussion forums I hosted inspired him to build a very successful games business with more than $1 million in annual sales.
A Passion for Personal Growth
I didn't earn any money from all this growth-related work. I sure spent a lot of time on it, but I regarded it as a side hobby. My games business covered all my expenses, so I could afford to continue writing articles, speaking, volunteering, and hosting discussion forums.
To this day I remain a huge advocate of compersion. Compersion is the opposite of jealousy; it means taking pleasure in other people's successes. I love helping people experience those wonderful a-ha moments that precede positive changes. It lights me up inside.
By request I added an archive of my free articles to my games website, so people could access them in one convenient place. These articles got picked up by search engines and began attracting many links and referrals, which brought in thousands of new readers from outside the software industry. I didn't do anything special to promote these articles, but they kept getting shared by word of mouth.
Soon I was receiving frequent requests to republish my articles in books, magazines, and newsletters, as well as offers to translate them into other languages. I continued receiving positive feedback about these articles from all over the world.
Within a few years, I discovered to my amusement that more people were coming to my website to read my articles than to download our games. During that time CNET also began paying me to write articles for one of their monthly newsletters. This convergence of events encouraged me to seriously think about a career change. Could I actually turn this side hobby into something more?
Gradually I began losing interest in computer games. Writing games was my dream when I was in my early 20s, but after 10 years of living that dream, I was ready for something new. It was becoming obvious I had an emerging talent for inspiring people to make positive changes.
I did some serious soul searching and concluded that I could potentially do a lot more good if I retired from game development. Even within the confines of the gaming industry, I couldn't help but notice that I was helping other developers create and release many more games than I was capable of creating on my own. I also began receiving books and music CDs in the mail from people who told me that I helped inspire them to create these works.
I felt like I was being guided down this path, and with each passing year it became harder to resist it.
In mid-2004 I went to Hay House's I Can Do It! Conference in Las Vegas. As I watched Dr. Wayne Dyer give a beautiful talk about the power of intention, I felt this huge swelling of emotion in the center of my chest. Tears began streaming down my cheeks. It wasn't so much what Dr. Dyer was saying, but the amazing energy of the place and being surrounded by so many growth-oriented people inspired me tremendously. I had this undeniably powerful feeling of coming home and realizing where I truly belonged. By the time Dr. Dyer concluded his talk, I had a clear vision that I was supposed to be that guy on the stage, helping to motivate and inspire people.
After the conference I put that vision on the back burner for a while, not really knowing how to take action on it. I wasn't sure if I was ready for it. But I'd already seen how it was possible to grow into a new vision of myself. Eventually I leaned into it by joining Toastmasters International, so I could start gaining comfort and building more skill in public speaking. I loved Toastmasters and quickly improved, giving dozens of free speeches. Later I joined the local chapter of the National Speakers Association and spoke at some of their meetings too.
In the Fall of 2004, I took notice of the rapidly emerging blogging scene. I saw that blogging could be a terrific new medium for me. No longer would I need to hand-code my articles in HTML and manually upload them to my website. I could focus on creating new content and let the software handle the formatting and archive management. I thought it was especially cool that people could use a feed reader to subscribe to my RSS feed, so they'd automatically be notified when I published new material. This seemed like a golden opportunity. I couldn't justify any more delays.
I launched StevePavlina.com on October 1st, 2004 and began publishing new articles immediately. I put my games business on the back burner and publicly announced that I was retiring from game development. I decided to scale down the business gracefully, so customers could continue to receive support for games they'd already purchased.
StevePavlina.com quickly took off, and within a couple years it became one of the most popular personal growth websites in the world. I didn't spend any money to promote it, and I had nothing to sell. I simply loved sharing, so I gave away all my best ideas for free. I believed that as long as I kept learning and growing, there would always be new ideas to share and that I'd never run out.
Being in the Flow
I seemed to have a knack for writing articles that people liked sharing, and my web traffic grew quickly from word of mouth. Apparently Google loved my articles too and began listing my new content faster and faster. Soon I saw my latest articles showing up on Google within seconds after I published them. I focused on writing the best articles I could, and I avoided using sneaky search engine optimization tricks. If my articles ranked high in search engines, I wanted to know that they deserved to be there. I had already seen what the something-for-nothing mindset had done for me earlier in life, and I had no desire to revisit it.
StevePavlina.com didn't generate much income at first. During the first six months, it earned $167 total, mostly from Amazon's affiliate program. Eventually I figured out how to make a sustainable living from this kind of work. By 2006 the site was bringing in more than enough money to cover my expenses, and by the end of that year, it was generating more income than my games business ever did. Since then I've continued to experiment with different business models, with my primary aim being long-term sustainability. I want to make sure that financial concerns don't get in the way of contributing.
In October 2006 I completed the shutdown of my games business. I could have sold it, but I was so passionate about this new career path that I wanted to keep all of my energy moving forward and not slow down to manage a sale.
About a year after I started blogging, I received a letter in the mail from someone who shared that he was looking for a way to commit suicide when he somehow stumbled upon my website. He said he read my articles for 6 hours straight, and by the time he was done, he no longer wanted to kill himself. Instead he began thinking about his life purpose and what he might be able to contribute to the world. I was deeply touched. Since then I've received countless other stories about how this work has positively affected people, including from those who claimed it saved their lives by restoring hope. I feel very fortunate to be able to help people in this way.
A Beautiful Circle
In 2007 Hay House approached me about doing a book deal, and in 2008 my book Personal Development for Smart People was published. The book hit the Amazon.com top 100 list 3 months before it was released, just from the pre-orders. Since then it has been translated into a dozen different languages, including Russian, Romanian, and Bulgarian.
As a result of that book deal, I ended up speaking at Hay House's I Can Do It! Conference twice. So my vision of being the guy on the stage literally came true. I opened those talks by sharing this story with the audience, and I could tell that people found it inspiring. At one of the speakers' dinners, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Wayne Dyer and to personally thank him for inspiring me. Isn't it beautiful what's possible when we follow our hearts and do what we love?
Since I began blogging in 2004, I've written more than 1200 articles. That's enough to fill 25-30 books. In 2010 I relinquished my copyrights and donated all of my articles (as well as my podcasts) to the public domain. This includes the new articles I write as well. So now you have as much right to all of this content as I do. This means you're free to translate it, republish it, or even repackage and sell it. If you search for my name on Amazon.com, you'll see that lots of people have already released products based on my work. My desire is to help spread conscious growth ideas far and wide, so I consider this a win-win arrangement, even when people make money off my content.
In 2009 I started doing original 3-day personal growth workshops in Las Vegas, beginning with the Conscious Growth Workshop. Later I created and delivered several more workshops. I also speak at various conferences and events regularly, both in the USA and internationally.
My Philosophy of Personal Growth
My approach to personal growth is extremely hands-on. I love to dive in and conduct personal experiments. Some of these are temporary excursions, while others lead to long-term lifestyle changes. For instance, I went vegetarian in 1993 and vegan in 1997 after conducting 30-day trials to test these changes. I also ran the L.A. Marathon, trained in martial arts for several years, performed in an improv troupe, and experimented with 100% raw vegan diets and polyphasic sleep.
Committing myself to conscious growth has had its share of challenges. In 2009 my wife and I separated after 15 years together, mainly because we grew in different directions. I accept these consequences because I know that personal growth can bring many waves of change. This lifestyle sometimes requires making tough decisions, but it remains immensely fulfilling.
The three principles that form the core of my philosophy are Truth, Love, and Power.
I'm deeply committed to open and honest communication. I feel that in order to grow, we must be willing to look into the dark corners of our lives and bring them to conscious awareness. I don't consider any growth-related topics taboo or off limits. When I feel it's important, I'll gladly write about topics that other writers in this field won't touch. My first commitment is to the truth. I'll gladly suffer some reputational slings and arrows as long as I know I'm communicating with integrity. Truth is truth, whether it's popular or not.
I'm also committed to doing what I love and being happy and fulfilled with my life. I'm not willing to stress myself out, work crazy hours, abuse my health, or take advantage of people. I've already made those kinds of mistakes in years past, and that isn't who I am today. For me this requires setting realistic boundaries and taking time to sharpen the saw. While I like to work hard at times, I also take time off for travel, to enjoy a rich social life, and to relax and have fun.
Finally, I'm committed to empowering people to face their fears and to grow stronger. I believe that everyone has greatness within them, but it takes a lot of inner development work to fully express it. I don't preach overnight success and phony quick fixes. I tell people upfront that personal growth involves a great deal of work... and that it's well worth the price. The time is going to pass anyway, so you might as well improve yourself as you live out your life.
I know that personal transformation is possible because it's part of my daily reality now. By making a serious commitment to personal growth, I went from sitting in a jail cell facing felony charges to becoming a globally recognized author, speaker, and personal growth expert. This did not happen overnight. It took 15-20 years to reach this point. But what if I hadn't made this commitment? I might have eventually received a much less pleasant 15-20 year sentence.
My life purpose is:
caring deeply, connecting playfully, loving intensely, and sharing generously;
joyfully exploring, learning, growing, and prospering;
and creatively, brilliantly, and honorably serving the highest good of all.
The Message vs. the Messenger
Some people think I'm a bit unusual, which is a valid criticism. I don't find much value in living an average life. Most of my friends are pretty unusual too -- and by unusual I mean happy. :)
I haven't had a regular job since 1992. I mainly live off of passive income streams that I set up years ago. I live in Las Vegas and love the vibe of this city. I'm very playful and love to share laughs with people every day. I love women, open-hearted affection, passionate sex, and long cuddle sessions. I love to travel, and I always get excited at the chance to hop on a plane to someplace new. I love meeting new people and feel equally comfortable with introverts and extroverts alike.
Now that you know something about the messenger, I invite you to spend some time with my material to discover what inspires you. You'll undoubtedly encounter some ideas you love and other ideas that challenge you or push your buttons. If you and I agreed on everything, we'd be the same person. Personal growth is a very individual experience, and no two people react to ideas in quite the same way.
My goal here isn't to try to convince you of anything or to sell you on a singular growth strategy. My goal is to help you grow in the ways that matter to you.
This website is designed to stimulate your growth by giving you an abundance of interesting ideas and insights to ponder. While some people have read every word of it, I don't expect most people to do that. Instead I suggest that you browse through the Archives, and click on a few titles that look interesting to you. Just start reading and go from there. If you find an article you really like, consider reading some of the related articles listed at the end of it.
Stay in Touch
Please be sure to sign up for my free newsletter to receive the newest updates.
If you're coming to Las Vegas at some point and would like to meet up, use my contact form to let me know when you'll be in town and tell me something about yourself. I love meeting new people. Rest assured I'm not one of those unapproachable guru-types. I truly enjoy forming and maintaining close connections with the people in this community.
Also, if we ever meet in person, don't do the handshake thing. Just walk right up and hug me. If you're a part of this community, you're family. :)