What is a Theory?It is simply an idea or ideas that are used to explain facts or events. It is the general principles that relate to a particular subject.
Personal development helps individuals to enhance the quality of their lives, learn new skills and achieve greater things. It contributes in assisting people realize their dreams and aspirations in life. It can also include developing other people, for example, you are a teacher or mentor.
Several theorists have provided us with a better understanding of this all-important subject. In this article, we shall examine a few of these theories. A personal development theory has to do with a set of facts that show how individuals can improve their: self-awareness, self-knowledge, skills, self-esteem, strengths and talents, wealth, potential, health and quality of life.
Personal Development Theories
- Confucius TheoryHe is known as the first personal development expert that existed and is called the father of personal development who understood the law of reciprocity. This states that 'we should not do to others what we would not want to be done to us'. His work generally centred on personal morality, sincerity and justice. He also believed that humans must keep their core values at all times. These values include respect for elders and loyalty to friends and family. He emphasized the need for individuals to live high moral lives and not just because
they need to obey rules or laws. Most of his writings were focused on morality, ethics and the exercise of political power by the rulers.
In one of his writings, the Great learning, he emphasized the need for individuals to strive to achieve a state of balance and refine their moral self; the need to get adequate rest and time for reflection to achieve peace of mind; the importance of setting your priorities right; individuals should bring their affairs and relationships into harmony; that men are capable of learning and personal development regardless of their social, economic or political status and that no single aspect of learning is isolated from the other.
- The Theory of AristotleAristotle is widely known as a great Greek philosopher who is also said to have influenced several theories of personal development that exist today. Till date, his theory still continues to have a major impact on this very important subject. He was said to have known everything about everything and spoke in details about almost every topic.
Like I said, his contributions to the study of personal development are vast and his study of ethics is well known. He defined personal development as the process by which the practice of virtues can lead to a happy life. He emphasized the fact that everyone seeks a flourishing life. This he called Eudaimonia.
He tried to show that every individual desires a better life and would aspire to flourish in every area. He stated that there are four aspects of human nature and that it is impossible for anyone to flourish if they are not doing well in any of the four aspects. For various reasons, there are people who find it difficult to fit it in society. If you don't take care to develop yourself properly in any of the aspects, you may find that you cannot function optimally.
Aristotle listed these four aspects and said that we are:
1. Physical beings - This means there would always be the need for food, exercise, rest and every other thing needed to help our bodies function maximally.
2. Emotional beings - He stated that we all have wants and needs that need to be met. Human beings can get whatever they want and also avoid whatever they want to avoid.
3. Social beings - He said that human beings always live and function in groups. Man does well in social settings and
this aspect of our lives is higher than our emotional nature. This leads to wants and needs that we would not naturally have longed for or desired.
4. Rational beings - Humans beings are known for their rationality. They are able to reason, are creative and expressive.
- Socrates TheoryHe is known as the father of ethics and is celebrated for developing the Socratic theory. This is a line of questioning that helps to generate answers from individuals and also stimulates deep thinking. He believed so much in the need for individuals to develop themselves rather than pursuing material wealth. He was well known as an educator. He was very interested in ethics and believed that the knowledge of self is a condition to the good life. He identified knowledge with virtue and believed that it could be taught.
- The Theory of PlatoHe is also a Greek philosopher and self-help master who is well known for opening a school of higher learning in Western civilization in Athens, Greece. His writing were advanced and had a belief that individuals must study in order to determine their level of character. He stated that personal development was the way through which an individual would be able to uncover the gifts God has given him. He was well known for his discussions on the topic of reality.
- Abraham Maslow's TheoryThe theory of Abraham Maslow's showed that personal development in individuals was dependent on their ability to meet their needs. The needs of man are much and ever increasing. Maslow described the hierarchy of needs and how it affects the personal development goals of individuals.
You can see the various stages of needs that exist almost throughout the lifetime of individuals:
Self Actualization: At this point, you may have achieved your potential.
Aesthetic needs: This is the stage, you desire beauty and order.
Cognitive needs: At this stage, you desire to know and understand.
Esteem needs: Feeling of competence, self esteem self respect.
Love and Belongingness: Giving and receiving trust, acceptance, affection.
Safety needs: We all want to feel secure and safe.
Physiological needs: At this stage, many people would be content if they have the basic needs of food, water, oxygen, shelter, sleep.