In my constant journey of self improvement I am always looking for new resources. But with the overwhelming number of self-help books available it can be challenging to know which methodology will really work or which author’s ideas for change will inspire. Open to new ways of approaching my personal development, I found my interest piqued by Derek Rydall’s Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change, a book offering a unique and spiritual perspective on how to become our best selves.
In this step-by-step guide, Rydall outlines what he calls the law of emergence. By engaging with the seven stages of his approach, he writes, we can begin the process of “emergineering” ourselves: working with the material we have within us to to let our true selves emerge, flourish, and thrive.
Admittedly, I was not immediately taken in by Rydall’s message. As the book is geared toward a spiritually open-minded audience, I had to suspend my religious skepticism to embrace his theory. He describes several seemingly-out-of-nowhere epiphanies that led him to his theory — but I didn’t quite understand what made him the authority on the subject and why, as a reader, I should trust him.
Despite all that, there were some nuggets of wisdom that I found useful.
Rydall begins with a lovely metaphor of the acorn that blossoms into the great oak. He compares this transformation to our own inner potential. He then describes what many of us can relate to: No matter how hard we try sometimes, or how hard we want something, we hit a wall and can’t make progress. Instead of focusing on how to change the negatives about ourselves, Rydall encourages readers to accept ourselves and build from there. We have what it takes within us to live a fulfilling life, he writes.
Despite the spiritual undertones that I could have done without, I found this perspective affirming.
Rydall instructs us to find our true selves by engaging in a series of reflections, exercises, and meditations. Some of the more useful tips I found within his seven stages include how to develop and take the time to make a plan for your goals — and how to think about the actions you take to bring you closer to them.
I particularly found the guidance in stage five and stage six useful to my own personal development. In stage five, Rydall encourages readers to turn beliefs into action. He discusses the idea of personal integrity, of aligning your goals and beliefs and actions to feel more at peace with yourself and your life.
In stage six, Rydall talks of embracing struggle, problems, and past trauma and emerging from the ashes. He provides examples that encourage readers to see the good in every situation, to not focus on the bad or negative, and to embrace all problems as growing points.
Although the book merely skims the surface of most concepts, it does provide some good starting points. And while Rydall sprinkles in a lot of spiritual principles, he makes a point not to single out any specific religion. Still, a willingness to be open to spiritual concepts is necessary to get through the book, and not all readers will be interested.
But if you are open, Rydall offers a new way of seeing yourself that may change your perspectives and behaviors. I found his primary message of growing from within to be empowering. Plus, the tools and activities he offers seem like helpful practices for achieving greater self-awareness.
The book isn’t totally clear cut as far as guides go, but it still includes a few enlightening insights.
Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change
Atria Books/Beyond Words, January 2015
Paperback, 256 pages