5 Reasons People Don’t Do Personal Growth


  • “The more ‘torn’ you are from other people, the less you feel the God-given desire of service. If you don’t feel service or the desire to become better to help other people, you’ll never rise to the next level.”
  • In this episode, Brendon covers 5 big factors that can hinder your progress toward personal growth, and how to approach these roadblocks in order to push through and win.
  • “The external will never work unless they do the inner work.”
  • If you’re looking for motivation and guidance to help you advance on your personal growth journey, this episode is for you!
  • Watch the video to get the full teaching!


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[The following is the full transcript of this episode of Motivation With Brendon Burchard. Please note that this episode, like all episodes, features Brendon speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited. Filmed in one take, Motivation With Brendon Burchard has become one of the most viewed unscripted, direct-to-camera self-help series in the history of YouTube. It has also been the #1 Podcast in all of iTunes and is regularly in the top podcasts in the Self-Help and Health categories around the globe. Subscribe to the free motivational podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.)

1. Disbelief

I’m going to cover five reasons people don’t go to another level of personal development and success and conscious living in their life. Five reasons most people don’t get into personal development, don’t make self-improvement a way of life, and never get to experience that vibrancy and aliveness and connection and meaning and growth at the next levels. They never get that feeling of momentum, of becoming more, of enjoying life more, of giving more, of opening more. Why? Five reasons. Number one: disbelief. Disbelief. Not disbelief in personal development. Disbelief in themselves. They see the goal. They see somebody happy. They see somebody healthy. They see somebody in a good relationship. And they just feel unworthy or inadequate. That’s disbelief. I am unworthy. I don’t deserve that because my parents told me I was terrible. I’m unworthy because I just got divorced. Nobody loves me. I’m unworthy because they made fun of me in school. I’m unworthy because I got the self-talk that told me I’m trash. I’m no good. I’m not worth it. I’m unlovable. And so years and years of conditioning have formed disbelief that those happy people, those happy people over there, I’m unworthy of that. I’m unworthy of success and money. I’m unworthy of a beautiful relationship. I’m unworthy of happy kids. I’m unworthy of the next level. They disbelieve that they can have that, be that, express that, enjoy that, contribute that, they just disbelieve. That’s what’s happening. They genuinely disbelieve.

And so we have to go, woo, do I have any of that? Do I have any of that stuff that says I don’t deserve it, I’m unworthy of that next level. Or sometimes it’s not unworthiness. It’s a different type of disbelief in self-called inadequacy. And the inadequacy is, you know what, I’m not smart enough. I’m not capable. I can’t handle it. And I don’t want to be philosophical here with you guys, as I struggle with this just like anybody else, anyone else did. When I was young, I felt like I was inadequate to earn any more money because I didn’t think that I could handle the stresses of a hard career. When I started a, as, as a book writer, I felt very incapable and inadequate compared to other speakers and other writers who I saw on television, which was mortifying to me. Or I saw them on stage, I don’t want to talk. And so I felt inadequate. And so when you have those feelings, you don’t believe in yourself, so why even try? Read these books about having optimism and vision and building my dream life, sure, Brendon sounds good for your personal development people, but I’m unlovable and incapable and inadequate. Works for you and your happy friends, not for me. And so this disbelief stops people from even engaging in a different quality of life. Frankly, it stops them from even engaging in conversation and curiosity. It puts them in a fixed belief mindset that just believes this day is going to be like every other day. I’m always going to be unlovable, inadequate, and incapable, and I can’t change anyway. I’ve tried. Doesn’t seem to work. Those people seem to have it. I don’t. So screw you and your self-help section. You guys are stupid, woo woo, you’re fake, you’re phony.

And disbelief becomes contempt, bitterness. It becomes cynicism. Do you know all the cynics? People are cynical about everything. Disbelief is at the root of that. They disbelieve something as possible for themselves, for others, or in the world. And so soon as they don’t believe it, they start doubting everyone who does, making fun of everybody who does, and getting resistant or bitter or pushing away from everybody who does. Isn’t it true as often as you start succeeding, more people who are really struggling go, well, yeah, works for you, sure works for you. Isn’t it true? Who’s ever experienced it before? You know what I’m talking about. You’re striving for a better life. You’re trying. They’re like, ehhhh. And they start judging you. You see it on their face, and you’re like, oh, boy. And so they judge you. They question your intentions. They question why you’re trying so hard. They make fun of you. Oh, you and that personal development, oh, did you drink the Kool-Aid? Everything they can do to belittle you because they feel a little inside. They wouldn’t admit it. Just like a narcissist doesn’t admit how much they hate themselves. But we know from that disorder, we know from that psychological truth that narcissists aren’t people who think so much of themselves. Actually, they feel so bad about themselves that they have to act out in these ways to feel superior. But there’s no self-love there. Narcissists are the championship-level shamers in life. They shame themselves, so they do everything externally to feel and see and perceive themselves as superior. And it is a massive, massive coping mechanism usually.

And why do I bring all this up? Well, just because the truth is you have to realize it in your life this week. If you feel cynical about something, you have contempt for other people who are striving more successful than you, you feel a little bitter that they’ve done better than you. That’s your own disbelief. Don’t put it on them. Take back charge of your emotional reality, your mindset. Be like, ooh, wait, I’m judging them because I’m in a fixed mindset. I’m judging them because I feel lowly about myself. Wouldn’t that be a gift to the entire world if overnight that could disappear, if people could stop having contempt for other people just because they feel bad about themselves? What a game-changer. This is why a lot of people don’t engage in personal development and so they don’t engage. And anything we don’t engage in, we tend to judge harshly, right? For example, if you’re somebody and someone says, hey, you want to go play tennis? You’re like, tennis? No, I don’t play tennis. And it’s easy to go, well, tennis is stupid, right? Because you don’t do it. You think it’s stupid, right? Or you don’t like sushi? I hate sushi. Your friends want to go to sushi like you’re stupid. Sushi’s stupid. Sushi is terrible. This is how ignorant people are in their brains. We actually do that. If we don’t like it, if we don’t engage in it, if we don’t believe it’s possible, we judge everybody else. And that is what happens.

There’s this huge disbelief barrier for people and it prevents them from getting into personal development. The very thing that will make them feel better, open up, learn, get momentum, breakthrough, have more health and happiness, success, contribution, everything they actually want. But their unworthiness, their inadequacy stops them. And it’s sad because how are they going to get over that? One way, only one way. There’s only one tunnel. It’s called self-improvement. There’s only one tunnel. It’s personal development. There’s only one tunnel. It’s called growth. There’s only one. There’s one direction, only one. Some people need a therapist for that. They need a coach for that. They need GrowthDay for that. They need a better peer group for that. They need a mentor for that. They need a loving spouse for that. They need something external to help them there. But even the external will never work unless they do the inner work, which is the sad truth. A lot of people actually have a good environment, a good job, loving spouse, but they’re not getting ahead because all those externalities are not engaging and giving that fire to the internal work for them to improve. So it must begin within. It must begin within. And until they deal with a little of that disbelief and ask where it’s coming from, it’s almost impossible to get them to care about personal development. That’s strange. It’s the weirdest paradox. The thing that is preventing them to get into personal development is the very things and reasons they need personal development And so, I don’t know that I have an exact answer for this, but I can share it with you. It’s important. It’s really important to understand disbelief and where it comes from. Because if you’re not really dedicated to personal development, I always tell people it’s like it’s because it’s so hard. It’s challenging, and it’s frustrating. It brings up a lot of stuff. A lot of people just don’t want to do the work. And yet I would say, they are doing the work. They just don’t know it. They’re working harder, they’re working and suffering more. They’re – everything is harder, more difficult, less joyful without doing the inner work of personal development.

And so I want to again celebrate you all for being in GrowthDay. I know I’m preaching to the choir a little bit, but I want to give you insight into this because maybe your family is there, a friend is there, somebody on the team is there, and, you know, I hope that you end up being the spark for them that gets them interested or curious. You have to hold space for them understanding that they are dealing often with unworthiness and inadequacy. They feel incapable, and so they just – there’s no belief. And so you role modeling the way can open up that door, you inviting them into GrowthDay can open up that day, you, you know to buy them GrowthDay, you can go to GrowthDay.com/gift, that’s /gift and you can gift a subscription to your friend, your family, your team, your coworker, your uncle, your spouse, you know? It’s like you can actually go buy them and let me do the work for you because I have a way of doing it that I’m pretty good at. You know, having brought in over 100 million people into personal development. Let me be your worker on that one. Just go get them a subscription. I’ll bug them by email. We’ll get them into something like this and they’ll go, oh! I hope you’ll do that. Oh, my gosh, just go to GrowthDay.com/gift. So, if you want to invite some people and bug them today. Let’s be that catalyst of annoyance to people that are going to help them get over the bitterness and the contempt. Let’s go help them open up a little bit. I know I’m teasing here a little bit, but it’s because I’m speaking with you guys and I hope you appreciate it because we got to have some fun in this process.

2. Discouragement

A second big reason people don’t do more personal development work is that they’re discouraged. This means they’ve tried before. Oh, here’s Brendon again talking about goals. Well, I’ve set my goals before. Nothing changed in my life. Here’s Brendon again, talking about high performance habits. Well, you know, I try to generate energy, but I ran out of gas, Brendon. Here’s Brendon talking about, you know, some science about, you know, brain health. Well, I tried that before, but you know what? Pizza’s good. Or, hey, you know, here’s Brendon saying to be a role model. I tried to be a role model and nobody came along and they made fun of me. They tried. They tried the work of mindset, habits, goals, improving relationships, leading, building, serving, selling, and doing the hard work. And it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. So let’s just disengage because it’s easier to avoid the reality of something not turning out the way that we want than to engage it, learn from it, and build from it. Avoidance has become their strategy in personal development because they felt bad one time or too often, you know? Okay, well, Brendon, it’s my fifth year saying I’m going to get healthy on my New Year’s resolutions. I still haven’t done it. Stupid. Why even try, right? Stupid. Why even try? That’s what we do when we’re discouraged. Just like when we’re in disbelief, we call everything stupid. Why even try? Then we start making fun of other people. It’s the same downward spiral.

But you have to recognize, I always tell people, and maybe I just feel very differently, I know that in my world or in my culture, in my industry, a lot of people make fun of other people, they say they’re not hardworking, they say they’re entitled, I actually have not found that to be true. I travel the globe. Most people are really hard-working. They’re trying to provide for their kids. They’re trying to deal with their traumas and addictions. They’re trying to make it through. They’re trying to get promoted. They’re trying to earn more. I don’t see effort level as this catastrophic thing that everyone else does worldwide. I actually have a tremendous amount of empathy and respect for people. If you knew that really hurt, if you knew their real trauma, if you knew how many times they have tried and were diminished, discouraged, disempowered, or made fun of it, we would all call each other fewer names. We would all be kinder to each other. We would understand why more people don’t engage in this because it is hard and they have tried and they feel like they failed at it. But I’m here to tell you, if you feel discouraged about personal development or improving your marriage, improving your health, or working at your job better, I just want to share with you that those failures we’re not events. Those failures were not you. Those failures were, you know what, strategy and timing at the same moment, not coming together. Excuse me. So we can have that truth that, oh, maybe the thing I was trying and the timing didn’t work. It doesn’t mean that the same strategy later couldn’t work or a different strategy at a different time or at the same time couldn’t work. And so we need to not be so hard on ourselves.

When you get discouraged, you just fall into disbelief. At first, you say you’re disappointed, but when the disappointment sticks, now you’re discouraged. Does that make sense? Something happened and you were actually just disappointed. Maybe you were even rejected, embarrassed, and shamed. Maybe you’re really upset about it. But the end result is you are no longer encouraged to do it internally. You are discouraged and soon as you’re discouraged you go, I don’t like myself anymore. This doesn’t work. Excuse me, I’m unworthy. And discouragement drops into disbelief, that drops into why even try, that drops into they’re stupid, that drops into I’m disengaging. Does this make sense? Is this resonate with anybody, how this happens, this process happens? And most people aren’t doing the personal development stuff because they’re just discouraged. If they could get a little bit of momentum, a little bit of momentum and they could feel a little bit better, get a little – just some more results, have a few more kind conversations, have a few more good days, they’d feel encouraged again and they would try again. It’s important of getting a little bit of momentum because the cynic is stopped, right? The cynic, they just – I’m out, they’re disengaged. But if we can get people engaged and just try a few things and get a little bit of momentum. All of a sudden they’re like, hey, okay, this ain’t so bad. Yeah, okay, I got it. And suddenly something shifts and they get back in motion again. This is why we make GrowthDay so easy for people, right? I don’t know how to journal. Great. Go to the Journal and press one of the buttons, we’ll give you the questions to Journal about, you know? It’s like, I don’t know how to set a goal. Go there, press the plus button, and write something down. You know, we try to make everything here in GrowthDay easy for people to engage and to stick with it and to start. And hopefully, that leads to a sense of progress and momentum and opens up another level of hope, another level of inspiration, and another level of readiness to try. Just to try. I think that’s important. The willingness to try again. That – there’s no right word for that. Some people would call that grit. They break away, you know, call that, you know, for what – they would call that, you know, perseverance, tenacity. There’s something magical there, the willingness to try again and again and again and again and again. Not in a discouraged way, I have to try it again, but more like a Thomas Edison. Like, oh, that didn’t work. Interesting, what did I learn? Let me try again and be willing to try it, you know, a couple of hundred times before the light bulb really hits. That’s the story of invention. That’s how you reinvent yourself. You try again, you try again, you try again. I’ve tried myself into my best self. Could you write that one down? I’ve tried myself into my best self. I tried so many times, and tons of times I failed. Most experiments fail, but you get these little distinctions, this new insight like, Oh, right, okay, yeah, bam. And you keep going and there’s a tenaciousness because you really want to have excellence. You want to be better.

I was talking with Susanna, the person I brought up here, I’m here at this event with her, and she said that when she came to my event, she became a Certified High-Performance Coach. And she said that you know, she’s talking about why she signed up for it. She signed up for it because she said, I want to be among the best in the world, so I’m going to go learn from the best in the world. So she came to my event, and she just shared this in an interview yesterday. And what I heard her say that, I was like, oh, oh, her intention from the get-go was to be excellent at this. No wonder she has outstanding success. Her desire is to be excellent and world-class. So she’s tenacious. She’ll keep trying. She’ll fail. She’ll not be great. She’ll keep going. Ain’t that powerful? Something to that. I don’t know. What is it for you? What’s going to give you the willingness to try this week? Maybe you already tried to launch the thing, it didn’t go well the first time. Why would you try again? Maybe you already tried to have that conversation with somebody you love, it didn’t go so well. You can try again. What is it for you? What’s your reason to try again? Stay connected to that. Just like every day, connecting with that reason that we’re here. Reverence for life. Gratitude for life. Okay, we can do that, right? On top of that, we say, well, what’s our state of mind? How are we going to show up this week? On top of that, is there any disbelief stopping me from this week? Is there any discouragement from the last couple of weeks of trying that’s getting me down and leading to some disbelief? Let me unblock those things because if I don’t unblock those things, if I don’t change the story in my head and the state of energy in my mind, my body, my spirit, my social interactions, well, guess what? It’s going to be the same ole week. And then we get discouraged again. Same old week, discouraged again. Same old week, discouraged again. But if we start our weeks and our days and the way I’m describing it to you, it can make a major shift in your mindset and your results. 

3. Division

Okay, five things. Five reasons people don’t engage in personal development or go to the next level in their own lives. Disbelief, discouragement. Third is division. Division. They feel separate from everybody else. Kind of like that, oh, those people can have success. Well, in a very disempowered way, they have become separated from the world. They’ve disengaged. So there’s a division between themselves and other people. And the more division someone has in their life, the less open they are to the concept of oneness. The more division they’ve created in their life, those people, those people, those people, those – they’ve grouped, everybody else, as you know, they versus us. The more walls you built up like that, the more walls are in front of you psychologically. And so you won’t feel the calling to serve the more that you judge. You won’t feel the calling to get better for others because you have identified others as a threat. Let that sink in for a minute. Let that sink in for a minute. This is what happens to people. They’re so divisive. Everyone else is bad. Why would I try to help these people? Why would I try to get better? Why would I try to lead if everybody is so awful? And so the funny thing is, the louder the judgment in your head that divides you from other people, the more torn you are from other people, the more torn you are from other people and more groups of people and more judgment and more segmentation and more division. The more torn you are from other people, the less you feel the God-given divine desire for service. And if you don’t feel service to become better so that you can help more people, you’ll never raise to the next level. Why? You’ll be so disconnected.

Let me say it another way for people who don’t believe in God or whatever Brendon. Okay. Listen, the more you divide from other people, the more you build up those walls of the division of judgment towards other people, and the less you will ever feel purpose. Because tell me anybody, any philosopher, any psychologist, any sociologist, any contemplative, thoughtful person who’s ever written, who didn’t associate purpose with in some way or another, making a positive impact on others. Why would I want to make a positive impact on others and challenge myself to develop the skills of empathy, communication, and leadership with other people if I believe most other people are idiots, jerks, irresponsible, stupid, too left, too right? Those people. See, it turns out the most judgmental people are the people who are ripped from purpose. This is why all the studies of mindfulness require a degree of openness. This is why almost every study ever done in all of the psychology found that one of the dominant truths about successful people is they had out of the big five of psychology, openness being a dominant trait of successful people, like one of the most important, like openness and conscientiousness. Like, I’m open to how the world can be, I’m open to others and I’m conscientious about how I show up, what my habits are, how I impact other people, and about my own responsibilities. Well, if we don’t have those two, I mean, those are some of the highest correlates of long-term success, long-term well-being, financial outcomes, marital bliss, and longevity. I mean, in almost every measure imaginable, especially with other people, openness is required. I’m just here to say if you are a divisive person, you’ve been trained versus them. You group other people into, you know, awful people. The more that you do that, the more you’re ripped from purpose.

Stated in another way, in an extreme way, the more hate you have in your heart, the more torn you will be from humanity and your life’s purpose. And this is why a lot of people don’t do personal development work because they are righteous. I’m already good. These people, they’re stupid. And so these people who are stupid, who are wrong, who is awful, who are power mongers, who are rich, who are this, who are left, who are right, who are  – all the judgment gives me righteousness. So I’m good. I don’t need to change. They’re the problem. Do you see how this becomes an intellectual manifestation of misery and division? Are you getting this? See my hope in you being at this level with us here in GrowthDay is that we can go deep on these topics like this because, you know, this isn’t just a Monday Motivation session, this is like, this is the depth of it. Hatred in your heart rips you from other people, which rips you from the desire to change, rips you from the desire to build the skill sets that would allow you to serve, communicate, build with others, and lead. And so it’s easy to stay siloed in your own house, not care about anyone else, not do anything else. Why? See, most people who believe that they’re, you know, well Brendon, you don’t understand, I guess I’m just lazy. I’m like, no, you’re disconnected. Do you want a deep thought for Monday? There it was.

4. Division

Disbelief, discouragement, division. Now, if those all sound disempowering or they sound judgmental to you, well, what I’d like to share is this fourth one. A lot of people, just don’t engage in personal development because of the fourth D: direction. They have no direction. They don’t know how. They don’t know where to go. They don’t have a plan. They don’t have somebody to follow. They, don’t have that mentor. They don’t know where to start. People always say I don’t where to start, you know what, my marriage is a disaster. I don’t know where to start. Brendon, my health is a disaster, I don’t know where to start. My career sucks, I don’t know where to start. And so what they do is they say, well, I don’t know where to start, seems overwhelming. I’ll just stay here. Even if there is misery. See people’s fear of the unknown and their inadequacy in being able to learn or handle something makes them stay where they’re at, even when where they are at is terrible. You know, many of you know, I’ve worked with people who were in domestic abuse situations, and it’s easier to stay there sometimes, even though there is misery and harm and danger there because they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what they would do without that other person. They don’t know what they do out there in the world. And so they feel stuck. And that first step, which would seem so obvious, get out of this situation that’s harming you. They can’t make that leap because they don’t believe in themselves. Do you see how these all tie together? Even though they have the direction, to get out of the house and be safe, disbelief is killing that progress. Yeah, but I’m unworthy. I guess I deserve this. I can’t handle life out there. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know where to start. I wouldn’t know how to get a job. I wouldn’t know what to do next. And when people don’t progress because they don’t know what to do, we definitely need inspiration, we need volunteers, we need support, we need, you know, free content, we need a kind neighbor, we need better programs that help them realize you can take that first step, you can take that first step. And please realize that by knowing the first step, you already got it. Everyone else, I don’t know what to do. I’m like, what’s one thing you could do? What’s the first obvious thing you could do? And that’s all they have to do. You don’t have to know every step. You just need to know the next, right action of integrity and health for yourself. Do that, right?

People don’t begin a diet program because they go, oh, my God, a program. I’m like, what’s the first thing you could do? I guess I could throw out the chips. Throw out the chips. Do you know? I don’t mean to be too heavy today. The simplest, elegant, first, right action of integrity and health for yourself. Do that. Do that. You know, people like, well, I can’t start working out until I get my full gym equipment in the gym. I’m like, there’s a sidewalk out front. Do you have shoes? You have shoes. Go walk, go run, go jog. Simple. Get in motion. If people think they have to have the complete picture, they’re toast. And this isn’t just like philosophy. I remember hearing Jeff Bezos at the time when he was still leading Amazon, talking about how he teaches his teams that, hey, they got to make decisions often when they only have 40%, ideally 60% of the information. They got 40 or 60% of the information they need and they go. They’re not waiting for 100% certainty. If you’re waiting for certainty in life, you will never act because there’s always going to be uncertainty, doubt, and unknowns internally and externally. Anyone selling certainty to you has done very, very little research on the human condition. They have opinions or they have their style. But let me tell you what. If your grasping for certainty, that means therapy is needed because nothing can be certain. Can we have confidence? Yes, we need confidence. Can we have courage? Absolutely. Can we be bold? Yes. But listen, there’s always going to be doubted. I spoke to 6000 people in person, but 48 hours ago when I was backstage, I feel anxiousness, the anxiety a little bit, and doubt. Yeah. I’ve spoken to 70 arenas in my life. You know, literally, I’ve been in front of so many audiences of 10, 20, 30,000 people, you would think, of course, that’s easy for Brendon. I still have doubts. I don’t need certainty back there. What I need to do is have confidence and faith and enthusiasm and joy and find my flow of service, even if I don’t know the entire speech. What I do know is I’m going to go out there, I’m going to talk about, you know, praising the person who put the thing together. I’m going to share about the potential potentialities of a good life, talk about the problems in our way, talk about my story, give three or four big ideas, and end with a crescendo. Let’s go. Do I know every sentence in every word? No, I would hate that. So, I want you to understand that we got to move away from perfectionism. We’ve got to move away from this idea that we have the complete map. I hope that helps.

5. Division

Last idea: drive. A lot of people don’t change or engage in personal development because they don’t have a drive. That reason, that why, but they don’t have a hunger for excellence and contribution. That’s what drive really is. Some people think the drive is just the connection to why, lots of people have a why, they got their kids, but they don’t have the drive, real hunger for excellence in service. That mastery mindset that wants to build and grow and serve others, pulls them out of those funky days. We got to reconnect, reconnect to those things. Your hunger for excellence develops mastery. Why? So you can serve more people or serve deeper or love more, even just your family or immediate friends. Because if you can do that, if you can have the drive, you can inspire others to grow. You can overcome their own disbelief, their discouragement, division, and their lack of direction. They will see you as an example. And that, if anything, if that’s all we could be for others, what a well-lived life. To be an example for others of what’s possible. I want to thank you for being on GrowthDay. I hope that you will continue your journey with us here at GrowthDay. Make sure you get yourself upgraded to All-Access if you really enjoyed this session. I can’t wait to see you again. I appreciate each and every one of you. Every day is a great day to grow and we did it today together.