I am a human rights lawyer. I am also a personal development blogger. Both human rights and personal development for me come from exactly the same place: a desire to leave the world a little better than I entered it. They are exactly the same thing but on different scales.
What are human rights?
“Human rights” concerns itself with the rights and responsibilities of human beings.
I made that definition up myself. I have a whole Masters degree in International Human Rights Law.
You trust my definition, right?
If you have trust issues, I’ll quote the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner which says:
“[h]uman rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.”
At their core, both my definition and the one from the Office of the High Commissioner emphasize change and improvement.
Improvement because we recognize that those categories of discrimination are within our power to improve.
That is exactly the same thing with personal development. We have the power to improve.
What does personal development have to do with human rights?
Personal development is the process through which a human being improves themselves by addressing weaknesses in order to live a better life.
I made that one up too.
Personal development is for me, however a subset of human rights.
I agree with the nice people at Psychology Today :
“We consider personal development largely ‘personal’; something we do for ourselves in order to grow and develop. At first sight, this seems pretty obvious. But what if the seemingly self-explanatory concept of personal development is misleading?”
The process of becoming a better version of myself can’t just stay with me. That’s useless. What I’ve found instead is that it spreads. It changes. I want to explain how and why I’ve changed to my family and friends. And even people I’ve never met before. I want them to see the improvements that I have seen in my life.
The nice people from Psychology Today say it in fancier language:
“Personal development can be summarized as a two-stage process: Stage one includes the conventional self-actualizing objectives, such as developing self-awareness and identity, gaining expert knowledge and nurturing our personal potential. Stage two then necessitates the critical transition to reach beyond ourselves (self-transcendence), to spread our enthusiasm with the wider community and to enrich the personal experiences of others. In this sense, personal development is far from personal.”
Human Rights is Personal Development for the Planet
Most humans want the best life for themselves. They want to live a version of their life that reflects their gifts and talents and minimizes their weaknesses. There is a whole personal development and self-improvement industry that is built on helping people become the best they can be.
I work in human rights so that everyone, regardless of their background, sex, or nationality, has the same ability to choose their path of personal development.
Human rights and personal development are exactly the same. Just on very different scales.
And I, I represent both.
May God permit me to do that for the rest of my life.