I get shit for it sometimes, but I enjoy self-help, personal development books.
Yes, I know most of the practitioners are saying nothing new. Yes, I know most of them are shysters.
Still, there’s a fascination in it. I don’t believe in the law of attraction or the power of positive thinking or that kind of stuff. I prefer my self-help to be more reality-based. Regardless, it makes me think about big picture stuff and how I approach my life, its works and its relationships, including the one with myself. To me, even if I think the writer is full of it, that still matters.
It still helps.
Plus, it’s often fascinating to dissect these writers, to see who demonstrates congruence with the precepts they preach and who is playing the role while hiding a disaster or a straight up con behind the scenes.
The most recent one I read is one of the latter. I won’t name names, because I’ve made a personal decision not to attack people I don’t know for no particular reason. It’s not worth it and most of it is supposition anyway. I don’t know these people in real life, so my assessment may not be accurate.
But it could be damning, especially if this writing career ever takes off. A cruel word from me could harm someone who may be nothing like I think he or she is. I’ll save that for people who openly demonstrate poor behaviour, like the outright hostility of Donald Trump and the Republicans toward the rights, freedoms, health and welfare of anyone who isn’t one of them (and many who are, but just haven’t realized they’re in the GOP crosshairs yet).
This particular book was a fairly reasonable example of why I always look for little clues about who a person really is. Most people take others at their word. I’ve always advocated taking them on their actions. I still do, though I’ve added a caveat to that: listen closely.
If someone portrays themselves as some sort of bodhisattva, but then in asides and explanations of actions, demonstrates behaviour that is selfish and neurotic, that’s their true nature. If they portray themselves as some sort of amiable, bumbling, Woody Allen type, then talk about how their family won’t speak to them and preaches only short-sell, short-term company building, then you can be reasonably sure the part of Woody Allen they identify with isn’t the on-screen version.
If they talk about how as a boss, they wanted everyone to graduate to become their own super-powered entrepreneur, then later, state how they used to call their secretary to make sure the hall between the front door and the office was clear, so they could sprint to that office and lock the door before those same employees could engage him… well, I think that about says all we need to know about the genuine nature of the first sentiment.
It’s my goal here to be as genuine as possible. I’m not some bodhisattva with all the answers. I’m as imperfect as I can get, because imperfection means there’s still room to improve. An assumption of perfection means we think we’re done, and can’t do better.
But we can always do better. And that starts by being honest about who you are and when you fuck up.
Start where you are, keep an open and thoughtful brain and be willing to self-evaluate.
And don’t lock your employees out of your office. I guarantee that’s not helping them be better.
And it’s not helping you either.