I’m not ever sure how to start this article. I know what I want to say and yet, it’s hard to get down into words.
I used to hang out in the Self-Help section of bookstores. I was constantly looking for answers. How to live my life. How to think. How to deal with people. How to achieve my goals. How to figure out just what the hell my problem is.
The Self-Help section was not what I needed.
There are a lot of books in the Self-Help section. And they all have 12 step programs, or their authors are gurus, or they are just absolutely positive of their opinions.
They throw around “truisms” that they just expect people to accept. Like it’s self-evident. It’s rare that there are any citations of studies, or explanations of any kind.
I found very little solace.
I love Byron Katie’s Work, but most of my problems are not in my head, but in my blood and bones. I already understand my problems logically. But viscerally, I’m unchanged.
“The Secret” made us think that that if we just visualized what we wanted hard enough, we can get anything we want. But without action, this is usually not true.
Side Note: I have seen The Law of Attraction in action, in its advertised form. A co-worker of mine lived boats. Getting a boat was all he thought about. He didn’t actually work, he just surfed the net looking at boats. (I was working for a company that valued dallying around more than getting things done) He talked about boats. He went and looked at boats. His entire noodle was devoted to boats.
One day, he got a call from an organization that took boats as donations for charity. A couple needed to get rid of their boat that day. I have no idea why. But the organization didn’t think that they could sell the boat. It was very old, completely wood. Although it was a gorgeous specimen, they couldn’t take it. So, they called my co-worker.
He ended up paying $25 + one month’s moorage for that boat. A beautiful 6-seater, hand-carved, livable sailboat. I went out on that boat with him. He took it to knots that surpassed the limits of the boat. He was in his element. Sometimes the Law of Attraction happens.
Some books say that if you want something bad enough, you will get it. The implication is that there is something wrong with you if you fail.
I have seen people take the information in Self-Help and turn it into a cult. I consider Landmark and Conscious Language cults. The things both groups are willing to do to get converts and the disrespect they heap on those outside their groups is amazing. Yet, they are based in legitimate, useful ideas.
I have seen people follow Self-Help ideas and expect others to do the same, holding people to their ideas of perfection. So silly, no one can be perfect and it’s irrational to think they should be.
The Self-Help Section needs something…
The Psychology Section
Everything that’s in Self-Help, comes from Psychology, Sociology, or some other Scientific background. Studies have been done. Case studies and books and articles have been written, all citing sources and proof for their theories.
Every theory has been open for debate. People in the scientific community poke holes in all the theories, working their way toward a theory that can be said to be true.
Now, most theories can never be truly proven, but people have a lot of fun trying to figure it out.
Whereas the Self-Help section seems to cause problems by asserting truths where none exist, the Psychology\Scientific section is focused on truth and science.
The problem with science is that its study doesn’t always include practical application on the human level. You can read all the books, understand yourself, and still have no idea what to do to solve your problems.
The Psychology Section needs something…
Something is needed
I’m not a blind follower. I distrust gurus and I don’t join cults. I need to understand things before I accept them. I read, a lot. Some people think that I think too much.
I have a great intuition, usually. Sometimes I make mistakes. But my intuition is not based mainly on feelings, feelings can be self-deluding. Human beings are very complicated. My intuition is based mainly on knowledge and understanding.
There is this idea of things “feeling true.” As someone who has read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”, I know that just because something “feels true” doesn’t mean that it is true. Someone who is afraid of someone who has a different color may think that person is dangerous. It “feels true” to them. Then they react to that rather than logic. See: All the violence toward each other in our world.
Feelings are not good enough. We need to be knowledgeable. We need to understand our limitations and our own proclivities. We need to be students of the world. Ignorance, no matter how many people value it these days, is not reasonable. Not if we think we have something to say. Not if we want people to listen.
The Psychology Section gives us clues into ourselves and how messed up we are.
The Self-Help Section tries to take those ideas and tell us what to do and how to live.
The Business Section takes the science and marries it action.
The Business Section
A lot people may pooh-pooh the Business Section, putting it down due to a hatred of Capitalism or “the Man” or to some vague distrust of corporations and their drones.
But who else is positioned to be the most interested in people and how they get things done? Who else is more interested in how to handle people and their problems? Who else is more interested in figuring out how to make people, and their businesses, more productive?
Enlightened businesses are always looking for ways to lead their people into the future. They want to give them something to believe in. They want them to feel like they are a part of a family, doing great things. It might be helping people do their job better, reducing stress. Or helping them grow as a person. Is it for the business? Of course! But the people are a part of the business. Enlightened businesses are very aware of that.
Side Note: Yes, there are many unenlightened businesses. You probably won’t be finding their executives browsing in the Business Section at the bookstore. They often don’t realize they have a lot to learn.
Business books take the science of the Psychology Section, add in assumptions from the Self-Help Section and then present solutions that actually make sense. They talk about the limitations and the areas that the ideas can be exploited or corrupted.
They attempt to make sense to people like me, people who need studies and logic to accept anything.
I know that the Law of Attraction only works if you also take great and directed action.
I know that any solutions to many of my problems are going to be physical.
I know that just wanting something badly is not enough. The world is full of things that can get in my way, and they do.
I know I’m not in complete control of my life, and that fact doesn’t diminish me.
I know that while using “proper language” is best, sometimes you have to say the other words. Communication is more important than using language in a specific way.
I know that many gurus and cults use a person’s vulnerability to pull them in, all the while promising healing, love, and acceptance. Then they withdraw that same healing, love, and acceptance in order to secure obedience.
I know that much of this world thrives on getting me, and everyone else, to doubt ourselves. Insecure, vulnerable people can be manipulated, and often are. Whole industries are predicated on this.
Finding information we can use, that is open about its limitations and dangers, is the most important thing we can do. We need to see clearly, make choices logically.
We need to find ways to grow that will not take us down a dark path.
So, my recommendation is for everyone to get over themselves and take themselves to the Business Section.
Let me know if you want some recommendations. I have many.
Oh Heck, here are my favorites:
“The Visionaries Handbook” by Jim Taylor, Watts Wacker, and Howard Means
This is a book about paradoxes. The focus is on business, of course, but all of it can be extrapolated into a personal life. If you’re looking to broaden your mind, in the fastest way possible, this is your book. Your mind will be blown. This is my all time favorite business book.
“Inspirational Presence” by Jeff Evans, PH.D
This is a book about enlightened leadership. What it looks like and how to achieve it. Its tag line is “The Art of Transformational Leadership.” I like this book not only for leadership skills, but also to see what a true leader is. Too often we give our faith to those who are not true leaders. We might have distorted views of what a leader should be. It’s a great reminder to be discerning.
“Originals” by Adam Grant
This is a book about what it means to be an “Original.” It talks about the great original thinkers of our time, how they lived their lives, and how they achieved greatness. It debunks such romantic truisms such as the belief that you should completely throw yourself into your endeavor if you’re serious. True Originals know that they need to make sure they still pay their rent and feed their kids.
It also talks about how to lead others to your point of view. The Apple employee who stood up to Steve Job, failed and left, only to return to challenge him again, and win. She’s now an Apple executive.
“Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
Chris Voss, federal hostage negotiator extraordinaire, is a must read author. Whether you’re negotiating with the bank robber, your teen, or the car salesman, not only will you learn skills to help you negotiate, but you will also understand how those same skills can be used on you.
We all think we can’t be hoodwinked, that we’re too smart for that. Even understanding what was going on, a Fred Meyer sales guy still got me to buy something I didn’t want. I saw it coming. He was good. It makes me wonder, how much of my life is actually my own choice? I think the closer I can get to %100, the happier I’ll be. Clearly, I still have a long way to go. Maybe I’ll re-read this book next.
That’s four books. If you love them like I did, and want more, hit me up.