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About the Author

Clare Herbert
Development Consultant (Kildare, Ireland)

I am a development consultant and educator, blogger and writer. My background is in communications, non-profit management and political work. My interest in international development bred from a period spent working in Zambia in 2007. Please take a look at my website, for more biographical information, or feel free to contact me for more information.


Personal Development

Published 29th April 2010 - 10 comments - 2759 views -

First of, let me start with a word of apology. Things have been hectic both at home and in work, eroding the time I had carefully carved out for blogging. I hope this marks a return to writing, but if it doesn’t, there’s a good reason why. Thanks for your patience and continuing readership.


“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” 

Leo Tolstoy


When I read the Tolstoy quote in Edgar’s piece, I thought I’d write about something a little different today.

In the main, us Th!nk bloggers have stuck to the ‘Development’ topic as an international or at least national one. As a set of problems that we wish to play a role in solving, as a set of circumstances which we feel are beyond our control, as a set of issues requiring debate, discussion and hopefully, action.

But, as we all know, the best way to help others is to help ourselves and I wonder how many of us invest as much time on PERSONAL development as we do to arguing about international development.

As soon as I mentioned, personal development I’d say I lost 50% of my readers. It’s a field occupied by self-help nuts and sceptics. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry (if all the money spent on personal development books was spent on aid......). It’s a labyrinthine squabble of self-fulfilling prophecies, faux positivity and cookie-cutter catchphrases.

I’d like to leave all that nonsense aside and just talk about what works. There isn’t a person on the planet who has achieved perfection. Everyone of us could be better, and if we were to devote 30 minutes a day to being better, then I believe the world would be a better place.

I’m thinking about things like time management, setting and aspiring to goals, improving productivity, following your passion etc


In a field like development, where bad news stories outnumber good ones 100 to 1, it’s easy to become despondent. There are days that I’ve read articles on this very site and left feeling deflated at the gravity of the problems we face. Furthermore, development is about striving for perfection. We will never achieve 100% development everywhere. We will never be satisfied. There will always be more to do.

For these reasons, I think that from time to time, we would all benefit from turning our focus inwards and re-orientating ourselves.

Imagine yourself on your best day – at your most inspired, most productive, most successful and most passionate. Now, triple it.

Imagine the impact you could have on the world if you felt that emboldened, that invigorated, that excited every single day.

Choose today as the day you apply the principles of international development to your personal life.

As Socrates said, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Start examining.

Making a small investment in yourself may reap huge rewards for the developing world.

I was interested in Hemant’s post on redefining development. If there were to be only one Millenium Development Goal, what would it be? 

That every human being would have the ability and the resources to reach their full potential in whatever field they chose, living a joyful life in harmony with the earth.

You will notice that this starts and ends with the individual. For me, this is what Development is all about.

 Writer’s Note:

Obviously, this a completely new departure from this usual topics here on Th!nk. Ruth, am I straying too far from the topic? What do the rest of you think? All comments welcome.

Category: Education | Tags:


  • Bart Knols on 30th April 2010:

    Hi Clare (pls remove typo from title of your blog). Your blog inspired me to drop all other things I was doing and write another one that is closely related to yours. Have a look and I look forward to hearing your views. Personal development: In my view a better component of TH!NK3 than many of the other topics I have seen blogs about…

  • Clare Herbert on 30th April 2010:

    Wow, what a blunder! I will fix the typo when I get home.

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad my post inspired you to write something. And, I certainly wasn’t sure how my post would be received, so thank you for the encouragement.

  • Giedre Steikunaite on 30th April 2010:

    Clare, I would like to express my support to you. What you’re doing here is really good, you have a fan here!

    I wish I felt excited every day, as you say. I wish we all lived in harmony with Earth. Yet we don’t, and it’s no news. Just now I was planning a post on the feeling of helplessness, as in watching the environmental catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Think whales, dolphins, turtles, birds, all that marine life that is being lost now. And what can you do? It’s just so sad. I know bad times should be an inspiration to convert them into something positive, to fight, to make change happen. OK, a bit off the course here…

    Personal development: examining your behaviour. That is definitely worth doing. I got caught on one phrase. Could you please elaborate on “applying development principles to your personal life”?

  • Clare Herbert on 30th April 2010:

    Could you please elaborate on “applying development principles to your personal life”?

    Thanks for your kind words Giedre. I really appreciate them.

    I think that principles we apply to international Development can be as powerful, if not more powerful, when applied to our personal lives. Things like: setting and striving for goals (like the MDGs), working in partnership with others (synergy), striving for excellence and best practice, evaluating and measuring the impact of aid (taking stock of our path and making sure we chose the right road), increasing the capacity of people to care for themselves (as we do by exploring our strengths and weaknesses.

    We are better development activists if we are better people. It’s a worthwhile goal.

    What do the rest of you think?

  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 30th April 2010:

    Actually, I’ve already got a post “Sources of truth” that gets very much close to personal development, but in the specifics: so its two for now. Check it out if you want.

  • Clare Herbert on 01st May 2010:

    Thanks for the tip Ivaylo.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 01st May 2010:


    Thanks for this post. Yeah, I totally agree. When the schedule is too hectic, we forget about the things that we really should be doing.

  • Clare Herbert on 02nd May 2010:

    Glad you liked it Iris.

  • Radka Lankašová on 23rd May 2010:

    Hi Clare, one wise man told me a long, long while ago: “A good day for me is a one when I learn something new.” I have a good day every day smile.
    I think we all do, it is just about realizing it….

  • Clare Herbert on 24th May 2010:

    What a great way to start a Monday morning, Radka. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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