If you are reading this, one of these statements is probably true:
I am seeking personal development
I am attempting to increase my productivity
I am hoping to glean some undiscovered nugget that helps me reach my goals
I read all your blog posts (no wait, that’s just my mother)
According to recent data, Americans spends about $11 billion annually on “self-help” books. (Out of curiosity, I just got up and counted the self-help books in my library…sixty-four. Please don’t tell my wife.) Here is one I am kind of fond of if you would like to contribute to the self-help industry total for 2017.
Here are three that I haven't bought yet, but I did get an Amazon gift card for Christmas...
In 2013, Kathryn Schulz wrote a beautiful essay on the self-help industry and her conclusion was this: if we truly understood “self” and “help” shouldn’t there be only one scientifically proven way to help our self?
She has a good point, but no one is listening. In fact, we gobble up self-help lists like they are our last indulgence before lent. Someone must have told self-help gurus that we like lists because they are ubiquitous. In case you are interested, I used the word ubiquitous because on the Top 5 Ways You Can Impress People using obscure adjectives was number three. Hope it worked.
Raise your hand if you’ve read one of these:
-Do these 7 things to be more productive.
-Successful entrepreneurs never start their day without these 4 habits…
-5 ways to affair proof your marriage…
-The wealthiest people never do these 10 things with their money … FYI #1 on that list is “buy self-help books."
For me, if I don’t try to incorporate a personal development list into my daily routine, I start to feel unproductive, inadequate. How can I possibly keep up with all of you out there who are obviously more organized and efficient than me? So, naturally, I googled the Top 10 Ways for Dealing with Guilt.
But then, one Sunday afternoon, when I found myself compiling a personal “Best Of” list, I just stopped. I looked back at what I had saved on a thumb drive and counted. If I adhered to every task on my lists, I would have to perform 432 tasks each day to be a happy, productive, entrepreneur who manages time and money well, effectively uses his network to market, and has a great marriage with independent, responsible children that are college ready.
Overwhelmed, I moved my mouse to the side and reflected…I thought about the many things on my list and how many other people like you are probably just as eager to improve as I am. I thought about the massive amount of data that we have at our disposal and how in the world we can even remember it, much less incorporate it into our lives.
I came to some simple conclusions about the self-help industry. See if you agree. And, of course, we’ll do it in list format!
#1. Baby Boomers started the self-help industry, and their mark is still influencing it. Boot-strapping, independence, and be the best version of yourself are all mantras of this generation. Boomers proudly put the self in self-help. This generation defined success as climbing to the top or being noticed for what you accomplish, so it makes sense that their version of self-help is how one can distinguish himself or herself from others.
#2. This is not true for the everyone-gets-a-trophy Millennials. They are more educated than any other generation in the workforce, more open to diverse teams, more collaborative, but with a shorter attention span. Technology’s laser like focus has prompted the shift toward blogs, bullet points, and TED talks to provide a different kind of help for the Millennial self, which leads to #3.
#3. As Millennials replace and eventually outnumber the Boomers as the major influencers in the workforce, here’s what you’ll see. The loss of the “self” from the Boomers and the new “help” of the Millennials will redefine getting ahead or success. Self-help will accentuate creating culture, leading teams, harnessing innovation, and exploiting technology.
The pendulum that for generations has swung primarily towards results will swing toward relationships. Millennial leaders will encourage self-expression, working remotely, flexible schedules, and real-time feedback. To be successful, leaders will have to engage a workforce that seeks a purpose beyond getting rich. They will forge strong teams of diverse individuals. They will deliver products and services quicker to keep impatient consumer eyes from straying. In short, relationships will be the primary focus through which results come rather than just being a nice after thought once results are achieved.
So, if you want to get ahead of the curve, I would start practicing these behaviors now. I’m sure there is a list out there somewhere that tells you how to do it…