Self-Help Isn’t the Problem It’s The Way You’re Looking at It That Is
Pernille Harder is the best female footballer in the world right now. Uefa’s player of the year in 2020, she knows what it takes to be the best in the world. But she doesn’t have a skewed view of success. In fact, quite the opposite.
“It was hard right after because you’re so close to winning and then you don’t. But afterwards, when you’ve had a bit of distance, you realise what you achieved just by getting to the final.”
Harder is describing her experience losing the Euro 2017 final as she captained Denmark. Yep, even the best players in the world lose. But that’s because getting to be the best of the best, just being on the stage, well that’s a huge achievement.
For some reason, this reality is missing from most self-help literature (if you can call it that). Every self-help book seems to end in a Disney-like fashion.
You always win if you try hard. You will achieve your dreams if you try.
But what about the reality? What about trying your best and getting 2nd best, where’s the story on that?
Self-help is a Big Market for a Simple Reason
According to Market Research, self-improvement was worth $9.9 billion in 2016 and by 2022 is estimated to be worth $13.2 billion with 5.6% average yearly gains. Yep, that’s billion with a ‘B’.
And what’s that made up of? Well, there are some staggering numbers surrounding self-help products:
- Self-help audiobooks — $769 million (5.6% growth YoY);
- Self-improvement books — $800 million (6% growth YoY);
- Self-improvement apps — $27 million;
Self-help is big money because, well, people want to believe they can. We get well-being from thinking we can achieve things. But simply consuming self-help won’t move the dial. If you’re spending all your time-consuming content, you’re spending zero time getting better. Absorbing content isn’t a recipe for success. And what do most of these self-help books tell you?
- To spend time building a craft;
- To work hard;
- To learn.
You’re not doing any of that if all you are doing is consuming content and doing nothing with the information. You can read all the self-help books in the world but if you don’t take what they tell you and implement them, well then that knowledge fades into the background of your mind.
Change Happens When You Act On the Information You Are Given
If Pernille Harder spent 700 hours reading how to kick a ball, how to work as a team, how to lead a team, how to play football, she’d probably never have stepped foot on the football field. It’s a ludicrous thought, isn’t it? Reading about how to become a better footballer. Anyone would tell you to go out and kick a ball if you want to get better.
So why does no one tell us that if you want to improve yourself you must go and do something? The recipe is really simple:
- If you want to learn how to become a world-class writer you must write.
- If you want to learn to be a six-figure business owner, find a product or a service and learn how to sell it.
- If you want to learn how to be successful, figure out what success means to you and go do something about it.
Consuming content is part of the equation. It’s a brilliant part if used correctly. What a wonderful time we live in to be able to access all the world’s information in one click. It allows us to learn from some of the smartest and gifted people in the world. It allows us to access information from the people that have done what we’re hoping to. It’s a magical thing.
But it’s only part of the equation.
Self-help Isn’t the Problem, The Way You’re Looking at It Is
It’s not self-help that is the issue here. That’s an industry that exists because there is a market for it. There are enough people in this world thinking they’ll get better by continuously reading self-help articles. And so, the self-help industry keeps pumping out books, audiobooks, podcasts, videos, apps. Anything you can get your hands on.
But you don’t need more self-help. You need to do something with it.
Implementation is the name of the game. If David Goggins teaches you how to embed discipline into your life because that’s what you’re missing, you don’t need to read another book you need to utilise what Goggins said.
If Tim Ferris taught you how to experiment you don’t need to listen to another podcast to move the dial, you need to go out and get experimenting.
But the Greatest Fear Is That You Know All This
But maybe you know all this. Maybe you know that you consume too much self-help and in fact, all it is doing is propelling you backwards. You’ve read everything from ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ and still you can’t seem to get the motivation, inclination or determination to put the lessons you’ve learnt to good use.
In that circumstance?
Start tiny. Start with the smallest lesson possible and start today. Send one email, do one action towards your goal that you’ve been putting off. Just one. then you can go back to your self-help.
Tomorrow? Try two.