Why I stopped Believing in Personal Development

Part 1: the naive student

From 2007 till mid 2019, I listened to audio programs or video shows of the following motivational speakers:

  • Brian Tracy
  • Abraham-Hicks
  • Larry Winget
  • Tony Robbins
  • Robert Kyosaki
  • Eric Thomas

I used to think those guys had massive success in their life and wanted to share their wisdom with the world through audio books. But then I looked nearer and I got disappointed.

Here is what you can read about them in Wikipedia :

  • brian tracy 2
  • Tony Robbins
  • Eric Thomas
  • Robert Kyosaki
  • Larry Winget
  • Abraham Hicks

Don’t you spot the common trait among them? I neither read nor heard of them having some big real-life achievements, besides scoring best-selling books or seminars. All of the mentioned above are either authors, speakers, seminar gurus or all of it. And by the way, over the years I realized they seem to have more or less the same stuff to teach.

I had only ephemeral success with either one of them. Nothing permanent. I had even almost all of Tony Robbins material, from Personal Power to Get The Edge, and I did not have the drive to explore them all. I went through Tony Robbins’ Personal Power audio and workbook at least once completely and the changes were not lasting. That’s because I only felt in the flow only while listening to his voice and “inspiring” messages.

In a nutshell, such personal development programs promoted ideas like:

” – you can do anything you want. You can fulfill your dreams”

“- Set unrealistic goals. Put deadlines. Work hard. Be the best.”

“- Empower yourself. Be positive about your future.”

Bla bla.

How naive and fucked up I was for more than 12 years! I feel sometimes like I lost 12 years of my life, listening to bullshit in different rhythms. Maybe I could not relate to them and therefore I did not believe what they say 100%. I really believed that I lacked motivation back then, whenever I had a difficult task to do. But then I remember the personal development gurus saying in my head “you are responsible for your results. If you fail then you are not taking action enough.” etc.

My past failures were my excuse to resort to personal development books and audio programs.

Whenever I did not feel like doing something, I opened a Youtube clip of some motivational speech, get fired up for some minutes, and then fall back on my lazy habits of procrastination and self doubt.

I looked like a motor each time filled with a cup of oil, enough to run a couple of minutes.

I even could not finish anything I started, whether it is a book or a sport endeavor. It seemed I had all the resources and best motivational speakers in the world, and could not finish a spit!

Part 2: The spark that exploded the house

In the second half of 2019 I was experiencing a sense of emptiness and mental loss on a pretty daily basis. The bubble I was living in was perforated. Welcome to the real world honey!

It went like a monotonous piano tone, until one morning, as I am taking my breakfast and searching for an answer in Youtube, I discovered this:

how I went from broke to millionaire
how I went from broke to millionaire

I watched part 2, then part 1, and the trilogy again. It was very appealing. The guy was real. His achievement was real. And he made it not through collecting subscribers or selling books, but through hard work. I watched the trilogy at least three times. I decided I wanted to get rich.

Again, like a fool, I plunged into the world of motivation and self development. I am a Youtube-addict. I scrolled through old Tony Robbins videos, with no results as usual. I was fooling myself with luxury lifestyle videos. In the meantime I saw a couple of videos where young guys show off their Lamborghini and claim they made it through some online business.

I wanted to become rich. I wanted to do something like an online business. I did not know how.

To try to motivate myself, I searched for videos of people living/working in extreme conditions, videos of Japanese workers and students, videos of people transforming their bodies through workout. The effect was also temporary and I still yawn whenever I try to do something productive with my time (so, it is not working).

On September 3rd, 2019, I discovered Dan Pena, also during a morning breakfast before work:

dan pena 2
Dan Pena

I was shocked. This man made a fortune before going to teach people how to do it. He is a real deal. I devoured everything I could in Youtube about Dan Pena every day during breakfast and during commute time. I downloaded all his material from his website.

Dan Pena made me feel doofus, not only because I am financially poor in his standards, but also because I was mentally poor. I learned a lot from this man. I even wanted to meet him in Munich in person. Here is what to expect when you want to meet the 50 Billion Dollar man:

meeting Dan Pena 1
meeting Dan Pena 1

I crafted the requested documents in a full day on one Sunday. I was really excited to be able to finally meet Dan Pena. But, shit happens in life as always. Due to Corona pandemic in April 2020, the meeting was canceled:

meeting Dan Pena 2
meeting Dan Pena 2

One of the reasons I was inspired a lot by Dan Pena is his personality. He symbolizes the alpha male. At first I thought I wanted to make a lot of money using his QLA techniques. But as I learned more, I decided not to use his system because of one big reason: I am a moslem and I do not deal with banking interests.

Yes. I am dropping down an opportunity in life to potentially become a millionaire, first because of my religious conviction. I am not sad about it. I am 100% conscious about it. I would rather continue to struggle as a network engineer than disobey Allah and fall into sin.

I truly believe however that when you shut a door for the love of Allah, Allah will show you a better door.

Part 3: Can’t Hurt Me phase

On my birthday I was reflecting on the past few years and what I’ve achieved so far. I was grateful to Allah, no doubt about it. But I was not satisfied with my results. I still had almost the same dreams of 10 years ago and achieved just a minuscule part of them. I don’t really blame anybody except myself. I spent too much time consuming personal development books and videos instead of working hard. Most of the self help crap in the market tell you to do the things you are passionate about. I was constantly searching for passion but to this day did not find it.

Quite often I find myself scrolling Amazon searching for best sellers in the personal development area. A title caught my attention. “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by David Goggins. I was attracted by the amount of positive feedback the book got. So I subscribed to Audible and gave the audio-book a try.

I felt like it was the first time I learn the true meaning of suffering. It is like I found a better answer to “why am I not getting what I want?” type of questions.

After a dozen time listening to the audio book everywhere I could, I found myself incorporating some new changes in my life:

  • I dumped every material I had from Tony Robbins
  • I switched from occasionally doing half or even quarter sessions of P90X to half sessions of Insanity Max 30
  • I switched to a keto diet
  • I started tracking my time in all activities of the day using an Android software
  • I started welcoming suffer and hardship
  • I stopped considering money as an important goal and switched to focusing on myself.
david goggins cant hurt me
David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me book


In my opinion, all you hear in personal development seminars and books is probably a fairy tale. It does not work all the time. It did not work for me when I most needed a push. In the lonely moments, I had nobody to cheer me up. No motivational speaker had such an impact on me as David Goggins. Buy the book or the audiobook and judge by yourself.

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