Words get wrongly used all the time. Some words or phrases are used inaccurately so often, that we become numb or grow ignorant to their original meaning or significance.
To wrongly use or misuse a word means to change the definition (ignorantly or on purpose) to gain some political, economic, or religious advantage or that by our actions over time we actually change the meaning of a word or phrase.
I’ll give you a couple of examples to show you what I mean.
Most people would say that the words “education” and “schooling” are synonyms (different words with the same meaning). But nothing could be further from the true:
School /Schooling Defined* –
1) any activity that is designed to instruct, inform or train a person how to act; to teach a person his part.
2) a crowd or group. Doing things as a group.
Education Defined –
1) to bring up, nurture or rear from childhood so as to form their habits, manners, intellectual and physical aptitudes.
2) Develop intellectual and moral powers generally. This is done individually or with a few.
In this case, education has come to have the same meaning as school. However, the above definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary would beg to differ. There is plenty of evidence to show the deliberate and false synonym-“izing” of these two words at the beginning of the 20th century.
The title Statesman is an honorable title with many great historical examples: George Washington, John Adams, Benito Juarez, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.
But because of its misuse over time (bad people being called or calling themselves statesmen), most people associate the word with a crooked politician.
So when we misuse words, their meanings become distorted or watered-down until they retain very little of their original meaning-and power.
This brings me to the point of this article. I believe that we have entered a new era, a time of increasing human consciousness, a moment where we actually have the technology to vanquish poverty and ignorance-the Age of Self-Development.
But this phrase, Self-Development or personal development has been heavily over-used or rather, misused. When most people hear the term Self-Development or personal development, it usually brings to mind some motivational speaker or guru who just wants to con you out of your hard-earned money. And it’s true, those kinds of people are out there. I myself have found these charlatans in academia, Network Marketing, the world of real estate, and in business in general.
But not all promoters of Self-Development are bad or misleading. In order to develop the skill to discern the good from the bad, we first have to know what Self-Development really means.
To understand the true meaning of this most powerful of phrases and to clarify what I mean by the Age of Self-Development, take a minute to re-acquaint yourself with the these original definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary the jovell:
Of oneself: self-honor
By oneself: self-propelling, self-acting
To, with, or toward oneself: self-consistent, self-addressing, self-love
In oneself: inherently, self-evident
From or by means of oneself: self-solution
To set forth or make clear by degrees or in detail: develop a thesis
To make visible or manifest: paint a vision
To subject to a treatment or process in order to produce a visible image: develop film
To elaborate (a musical idea) by the working out of rhythmic and harmonic changes in the theme: write a song
To work out the possibilities of: develop and idea
To create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time: new ways of doing business
To make active of promote the growth of: develop muscles
To make available or useable: develop natural resources
To move from the original position to one providing more opportunity for effective use: he moved his chess piece with deliberation
To cause to unfold: gradually developed his argument
To expand by a process of growth: working to expand the company
To cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind: rain and sun develop the grain
To become infected or effected by: she developed pneumonia
To acquire gradually: develop an appreciation for ballet
To go through a process of natural growth, differentiation, or evolution by successive changes: a blossom develops from a bud
To come into being gradually: the situation developing in Eastern Europe
My guess is that the term Self-Development has a more “developed” meaning for you now than it did 5 minutes ago. True Self-Development is the most exciting, invigorating, and uplifting action that a human being can take. Fully engaged Self-Development will literally change you life. Life will be more fulfilling, satisfying, stabilizing, charitable, and revealing than you could ever imagine.
While the phrase Self-Development may have little meaning to the average person hearing it, it has huge significance to those who are truly seeking it.