(This post isn't specifically a response to John, but a general response to the thread topic.)
There is a saying:
"What's in the way is the way."
I don't think personal development and self-improvement are responsible for people feeling “stuck”, “burnt out”, etc. That’s like saying that it’s a dumbbells’ fault when you can’t lift a weight at the gym, or that it’s the dumbbells’ fault that you’re burnt out because you’ve been overtraining. It’s not the dumbbells’ fault, it just means that lifting that dumbbell is beyond your current ability and you should move on to something that is more suited to your current strength level. Either that, or you’ve been training too much (overtraining), and you need to balance training with a reasonable amount of recovery time.
Likewise, many people try to lift the weight of personal development and then start blaming personal development when they aren’t getting any results. But it’s not personal development; it’s the particular approach they are taking. If you’re trying to do weight training and all you do is try to lift weights that you can’t even pick up, you’re not going to make much of an improvement to your strength.
That doesn’t mean weight training is ineffective. It just means you’re not doing it properly (ie. in a way that is going to net you any improvements). Instead of trying to lift something that you are not strong enough to lift, use an ineffective approach that gets you no results, or partake in massive amounts of training with inadequate rest (overtraining), go and lift something that you can lift and use an approach that is not only going to get you results but allow you to get adequate amounts of rest and recovery.
But this is what makes personal development very difficult for some people (including myself at times). There is no real instruction manual, and while books, articles, and other products may help, largely you have to figure out most of it yourself. It’s a process of self-discovery.
And when you're trying to lift a "weight", sometimes it can take quite a while until you realise that you’re trying to lift something that's too heavy for you to lift. You keep saying “why won’t this weight lift? Maybe if I try to pick it up this way it will lift. Maybe if I change my diet it will lift. Maybe if I go out and read a book about lifting weights it will lift”. But if the weight is too heavy for you, no matter what you do, you’re simply not going to lift it.
The solution may be blatantly obvious, but until you raise your awareness to a degree where you can say “of course! I don’t need all these books and gadgets, I’m just not strong enough to lift the weight”, you have to go through that often uncomfortable period of constant failure while you’re still a beginner. But failure is a mindset. To me failure is an indication that my current approach was no good and I should optimise and try something else. I personally see the "discomfort" as challenging and enjoyable. It would be boring if it were easy, and I’d move on to doing something that was more difficult. That doesn't mean I want
to experience failure, but I understand it's part of the learning process and that failure is often a byproduct things that are challenging. It comes with the territory, and it's merely something to accept.
It’s generally like this with everything, people just don’t equate it with other pursuits. For example, if you’ve never played tennis in your life and you take up the sport, it’s quite likely that you’re going to suck. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed. It’s also quite likely that you won’t be able to do anything very well, even after repeated attempts at doing it. But that’s just part of the learning process -- a necessary step towards eventual mastery.
Those who are persistent and don’t give up are those who reap the rewards, while those who lose interest are unable to access such things. Much like a million dollars is out of reach for someone who only knows how to provide $50,000 worth of value (and no more), a professional tennis career is unavailable to someone who isn’t skilled enough to obtain the necessary ranking in competitive play.
Anything is possible in some form or another; you just have to invest enough effort to get it done. Of course, there are the self-help junkies
they're making improvements when they're really not. But even that can be a stage in the learning process -- something you must first do and go through before you learn not to do it. Overall, hard work
, "effortful study
", and the will to strive for greatness and practice a hell of a lot while doing it
(those are all links to good articles, by the way; some from Steve's website, some from others).
That said, though, I completely agree with John, as what he talks about is quite an effective approach. But really, in "quitting PD", he hasn't really quit; he's just found another aspect of it -- a previously unexplored path that leads to many undiscovered treasures.