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Waterfall Model of Personal Development

One of the ideas that I find to be flawed is the necessity of taking time to work on yourself before getting into relationships with others. Like most ideas, it probably has some grain of truth in itself. Under some circumstances this could even be the best way of going about things. But there are a lot of cases where this is not applicable at all. We define and discover ourselves within our relationships with others. You can't get better at this stuff alone.

We define and discover ourselves within our relationships with others.

This notion of taking time to work on yourself in isolation to figure yourself out in relation to others is equivalent to the waterfall methodology of product development. It is the assumption that you can correctly estimate what you need to be working on. It is the idea that you can meditate on a problem in abstraction, devise what is essentially a theory, and have it magically work in practice.

Imagine programming and shipping to production without ever compiling or testing your code. You define your functions, create your classes, construct ways to communicate to external APIs without ever running your code. It is possible that you could write something that looks great, but I am equally sure that it will not work well in production. It will fail in the most unexpected ways. It might even turn out that you were not working on the real problem all this time!

You need to live to get better at life.

Our most deep and fundamental flaws surface when we interact with others. It is in these interactions that we have a chance to observe and improve on ourselves. This requires a certain level of awareness and ability to correct course, though. I think an ideal process is equivalent to the agile methodologies of product development out there. You need to be able to listen to your "audience." You need to incrementally develop yourself, seek feedback, and understand what the priorities are. You need to be okay with being a work in progress. In human terms, it is about being vulnerable, understanding that you are a person with flaws just like everyone else out there, and paying attention to the patterns and outcomes of your interactions. All that is to say, you need to live to get better at life.