Did you know that the self-help industry has been going strong for more than 80 years? From the earliest years people like Napoleon Hill, Clement Stone, Dale Carnegie and Norman V. Peale have been exhorting us to set goals, read their literature, adopt their prescriptions for success and otherwise lift ourselves by our own bootstraps. It is hard to say how many successful entrepreneurs would not have gotten their start without the encouragement of these masters of the business. This is as true today as it was 70 years ago. |
It seems many of us still need permission to be successful, to take our rightful place among those who have made money by stepping up based on what they have read or heard. Characteristically, most people who attribute their success to this process try multiple times to break the wealth barrier but have to persist through multiple failures before realizing eventual success. Most attribute their eventual success to the encouragement in persistence of the people who started this industry. They may be an adherent of modern practitioners but those people stand on the shoulders of the pioneers and what they shared so long ago.
It is a strange fact that the numbers that the industry started with of the percentage of people who achieve the ultimate of success, who set written goals, which follow the recommendations of these giants of the industry hasn’t changed much over the years. For all the people involved in the industry there hasn’t been a significant change in the numbers as far as the practices or results obtained by adherents. There needs to be a sharp distinction drawn between continuous learning and changing attitudes. The staple of the self-help industry has long been that attitudes, which are the root governors of behavior, can be changed at will to achieve the results one wishes from life. This hasn’t changed in 80 years Although most who rise to the challenges of today’s business environment attribute their persistence to those of former years, that they changed their attitudes toward work and trying by choice and changing their own approach to learning and trying. The fact is that no one has been paying attention to this in the marketplace. No one has recompiled the numbers in a long time. So, what are the key take-aways for this industry in this modern age? There is one thing that is indisputable. Successful people have one key commonality. They learn independently and constantly. They seek out and read new ideas relentlessly. Perhaps that is the key. As adults they read, voraciously. Combine this with an accepting personality for all the encouragement offered in this industry and you have a recipe for success. This is a topic that needs study. It would be nice to know for certain what it is that works in this environment. That it is working is not really in dispute. What is working is another matter. We need new numbers.
It’s like that quote about advertising. You know the one about us knowing that 50% of advertising works, we just don’t know which 50%. Well, we know that the self-help industry works, we just don’t know what part, and how well. We need to know. It’s time someone had the courage to take a realistic look at the results we achieve when we undertake these types of activity.
Earl Nightingale in his recording, The Strangest Secret, uses basically the same numbers as used 20 or 30 years earlier by Hill and Stone which are still in use today by practitioners in the industry. Hill and Stone have passed on. Perhaps it’s time their numbers did as well.
It’s about time somebody did some work to nail these modern numbers down. If the numbers haven’t changed, and that’s a possibility, then 80 years of self-help will have been for nothing. Many have careers and much money on the status quo, but can we afford to stay there? My thinking is no! The career people will have to practice what they preach and adapt.
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