On Self-Help

I read a lot of books from the personal development industry or motivational books.  They are part of the “self-help” industry.  I got attuned to this by virtue of being an Amway Independent Business Owner.  I’m still an active IBO, and I’ve been been building my Amway powered business on and off.  I’m part of a personal development program through a “training organization”, as Amway Lines of Affiliation (LOAs) are referred to.  Most LOAs heavily promote self-development, and improving ones self which is GOOD.  This is done through listening to audio, reading books and attending events.  I’d like to share some thoughts on self-help, mostly from the reading viewpoint, and also I think it’s applicable to anybody in any area of life no matter what they are doing.  Here are a few thoughts:

– Not all material is good, and obviously this is subjective. Generally speaking, I tend to discount books by authors whose primary claim to success is being a “motivational speaker”.  There’s a lot of regurgitated, cliche, and outdated material out there.   Anthony Robbins is one notable exception.

– Self-Help shouldn’t be about a magic pill. It should be about regularly aligning yourself with a frequency of positivity.

– If you’re 100% exclusively reading “self-help”, something will be a little “off”, in how you relate to other people. As I see it it is good to throw in a little of everything in addition to the self-help. It doesn’t hurt to read some pop-culture (GQ, Esquire, or whatever you want–these are great, sometimes they have insightful articles by succesful people like Brad Pitt, Jay-Z, etc), or some best-seller fiction, etc.

– I find socializing, and working hard to expand your network/circle of friends and acquintances is good for developing relationship skills. And it can help in areas such as expanding a business, being exposed to new experiences i.e. being invited to an ethnic festival, for those with kids–your kids can make new friends, etc.

– You should spend on self-help. Even if one is not building a business, they would benefit from buying books, and finding some audio, or attending a convention or a cheap/free workshop seminar (such as what Trump or Kiyosaki occasionally offer). Simply put you become a better person by investing in yourself.  Personal development will develop the leader within you, make you a better friend, make you able to handle adversity better, introduce big-picture thinking, etc.  Then once you are improved, you will find you are able to leave an impression on others, but you cannot give what you

– Use self-help proactively. Don’t be afraid to stop reading a book if it’s just too much of a pain in the ass to get through (I did that for instance with David Allen’s “Getting things Done”). Not everything in every self-help resource is the gospel and the ONLY tried and true way to do something. Remember self-help is not a magic pill.

– Self-help should not be depressing or about doom’n’gloom. It shouldn’t be overhwelming. Because of self-help, your inner smile should GROW, and you should find yourself walking through the world with ease, not with dread. If due to exposure to self-help books, seminars, or other resources, you start feeling burdened, guilty, depressed, cynical, etc. that is a corrupted path and you should examine the materials you’re being exposed to or if other negative variables are affecting your continuing self-development.

– Self-help never stops. It’s continous. It is not an “event”, it’s a way of life and an on-going process.

– I do agree with the concept of low-information diets, such as not reading newspapers beyond skimming the headlines or staying away from political blogs (this was tough for me, I got hooked after the 2008 election–reading several blogs from both ends of the political spectrum religiously). I watch movies, documentaries (travel & nature), and some sports. I stay away from TV series, and reality TV which I find soapoperaish in their tendency to cause one to emotionally invest themselves in the lives of fictional characters. Plus unlike movies, or sports, for me, the slippery slope of watching a bunch of TV series is more damaging….

– No one person, entity, company, philosophy or religion has a monopoly on “self-help”. There’s many great resources to draw from. No one has a patent on it.

– Just because you or me are exposed to self-help, or have read some books does not suddenly make us superior to the “clueless masses”.  Beware of hubris. Stay humble, relatable and down to earth.

– Self-Help should eventually transition into more about “being positive”. It should eventually become holistic, reaching the point where one is conscious of being more socially savy, healthy, reducing stress in their lives, significance, etc etc.