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Self – Help Books Don’t Help At All

April 28th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

When I was in my early twenties, I used to read a lot of glib and facile nonsense authored by people like Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Dr.selfhelp1selfhelp2 Wayne Dyer … you know what I’m talking about : “How to become a millionaire in 90 days” type of rubbish (One of my favorite titles is ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – just have a clear image of success in your mind & the $$$ will just start rolling in).

Today there is a whole herd of these self – proclaimed motivational gurus with their rags to riches success stories (Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Carlson … the list is endless) who are just eagerly awaiting you to open up your pocket book and make themselves, not you, rich – how sad. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that life is just not that easy. A medical Doctor doesn’t make a dime until he or she is nearly 30 years old; and prior to which they’re eating macaroni and cheese and studying their butt off every waking moment.
I think the reason many people are turning to these so – called messiahs of success in record numbers is because the economy is so god – awful and we’re desperate. What I find most troublesome about the gurus is that they are giving people false hope and preying upon our society’s (especially generation millenial’s) unquenchable thirst for instant gratification. The reality is that very often, even if you have the most incredible work ethic, you still might end up poor and miserable. Lady Luck and coming from an affluent family (the lucky sperm club) is 99% of the game.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I hate to be cynical, and certainly I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible for an individual to come from an impoverished family and end up wealthy and successful, but the odds are stacked up against you. As George Carlin used to say (I’m paraphrasing here) “The American dream is an illusion and the reason they refer to it as a dream, is that you have to be asleep to believe in it.”

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3 Responses to “Self – Help Books Don’t Help At All”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I read it Michael, I disagree with some of what you said. In 2005 I did the Anthony Robbins four day seminar walked over hot coals on the last day with 2000 others. In 2006 just after it I started my own company and raised $1M with my partners. We built a software as a service company and sold it. While the company was not as much as a success that I originally imagined, I’ll never regret take king the plunge. I feel that this was a direct result of what I learned about myself in the AR seminar.

    I firmly believe that you will only get out of anything what you put into it.

    Over the years I’ve listened to, read and participated in these types of programs/ information, like anything else some are good some are bad. But my attitude is if I get just one thing that I can apply in my life it was well worth the effort.

    What is your suggestion for an alternative form of sharing ideas?

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    The problem with the self – help messiahs is that they ALL speak in generalities, not specifics – that’s #1. The other issue, is I think they are simply sending out the wrong message i.e. life is not as hard as you think & if you just buy my book and follow these rules (invariably vague and general) you’ll be sitting in the sun and you’ll never ever have to worry about a problem from which you cannot ultimately dig yourself out from under. The last thing I want to say about this matter at this time, is that the writing is sooooo poor, facile and glib. Life is prodigiously and unspeakably hard and there simply are NO shortcuts. Learning about motivation and the human condition cannot be found in a Anthony Robbins book, but rather it more often than not takes a lifetime of real – life experience and maybe one can find some answers by studying and critically reading Shakespeare – which takes decades and HARD HARD HARD work.

  3. Michael Tabor Says:

    Incidentally, there is an absolute gem of a book entitled ‘Stumbling on Happiness’ written by the Harvard psychologist and scientist, Daniel Gilbert – 2006. What I love about this masterpiece is that 1. It’s incredibly well – written (it’s so good, it’s almost literature). 2. And, right from the preface, there is absolutely no mention of “self – help” i.e. reading this book is going to make you happy, etc. Daniel Gilbert is merely hypothesizing, theorizing, and analyzing what makes our species “happy”. I absolutely love this book and recommend it to everyone.

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