Personal development and the whole person concept

I wanted to share with you my philosophy of personal development. It’s still a work in progress as all philosophies of life should be.

Whole Person Concept

I’ll start off with a bit of history for you. As some of you will know, I’m a graduate of West Point. To get into the Academy is a very stringent process, one that evaluates candidates on the “Whole-man” system instigated by former Superintendent General Garrison Davidson in 1958. Basically West Point evaluates a candidate on their mental ability, physical aptitude, and leadership potential (as measured by their extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, student government, scouts, etc). The idea being that West Point wants to recruit well rounded individuals, not folks who just excel in one area.

Building on that legacy, I’ve developed my personal development philosophy on the whole-person concept, that is Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Here’s how I break it down:

personal development


I’ll start with body, which is about physical fitness. I am an advocate for simplicity through bodyweight/calisthenic exercises, kettle bells, and sandbags, basically fitness that can be achieved without the need to join a gym. I love the gym, but sometimes I think the gym can be a barrier for some people, i.e. cost, convenience of location,time etc. The cool thing about bodyweight training is that you are your own gym so it’s always with you no matter where you go!

It’s easy to let our fitness training slip either through using time as an excuse or through lack of motivation. “I would love to exercise more, but I don’t have the time” is the common refrain. I’ll write some more about this in a later post, but the bottom line is there’s always time to exercise. Just remember if you take care of your body and your body will take care of you!


There are three components of mind training for me: Mental Toughness, Awareness, and Intellect.

Mental toughness can be achieved through setting challenges that force you out of your comfort zone and requires you to utilise your internal resources to adapt and overcome the challenge. This can take the form of physical and/or mental challenges such as adventure racing or learning a new skill.

I train my Awareness of self and others through the practice of positive psychology and practical philosophy. For me this is about learning how to use this powerful and wonderful tool we call a mind and understanding the mind of others.

Intellect is the final component of mind training. I do this through self-directed learning such as reading, researching, seminars, and discussions.


Self-reliance  for me is the key to training the Spirit and by that I mean not relying on any one particular doctrine – let Nature and your Inner Guide (Intuition) be your mentor and trainer. Spend time out in Nature either walking, hiking, canoeing or simply sitting and observing a sunrise, the wind in the trees, or a babbling brook. Learning to listen to your Intuition or Inner Guide will pay big dividends.

Final thoughts

I know these days it is fashionable to specialise in some school of thought or some program marketed by some guru, but as Robert Heinlein said specialisation is for insects . I encourage you to consider the whole-person concept. Train your mind, body, and spirit in equal measures as they are wholly interdependent and important. To neglect one is to neglect all three.

As always, share your thoughts, I’d love to hear about your approach. Drop me a note in the usual places comments, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. Or if you prefer, drop me an email.


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  • Specialisation is for insects! Blooming Norah Mr Lowe……how long have I spent focusing on one area? Way too long…for me this commentary is like the curtain coming away in The Wizard of Oz….it’s really quite a simple and easy thing to do. Often throughout my career I have focused on one set of skills to get me to the next position. It’s done me well this leaping from one Lilly pad to another but the learning becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.
    I remember when my children were waiting to go to school for the first time. Both of them during those summers would talkso much about what it would be like to learn. I somehow have lost that ambition? Now in my late 30s (yeah right) I am focusing on my mind, starting to learning Chinese, my body now have a personal trainer, my spirit is awakening and I feel rather excited about being able to demonstrate the requirements of West Point.

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comments.

      Sounds like your on the path to the whole-person concept, West Point would be proud!

      I’ve always struggled with this whole specialisation thing until read Heinlein’s quote. Our current society pushes us towards specialisation, whether that’s for capitalistic reasons (all these specialist need certifications and governing bodies, and membership dues, and re-certification fees etc) I don’t know. Whatever happened to the Renaissance man?!

      Again thanks for reading the blog and engaging with your thoughts.