Personal Development Fraud (part two)

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In yesterday’s post we discussed the fact that some ‘folk’… may, or may not, be an asset to the big wide world of Personal Development; people who dress like it, sound like it and talk like it… but actually smell like something else.

We established that (like in any profession) there are people who operate with more or less honesty and integrity….. and that there are some who make a difference, some who make money and some who do both.

Today I thought we’d discuss (yes, it’s a discussion; you can comment at the bottom!) some of the key Personal Development messages which are often taught (or inferred) that I personally struggle with, or disagree with completely.

Personal Development fallacies, self-help myths; call them what you will …. but they inhabit the pages of many books and the teachings of many people who (I believe) should know better.

Personal Development Fallacy (PDF) 1: You deserve it!

No you don’t!

You earn it.

You create it.

Whether or not we achieve our goals or turn our dreams into reality has got nothing to do with what we deserve and everything to do with what we create.

The problem with the ‘you deserve it’ philosophy is that we think success and happiness will somehow fall in our lap because the ‘universe’ owes us (more cosmic crap) and when it doesn’t, we’re disillusioned and feel sorry for ourselves.

And while we’re doing that, the smart ones are out there getting stuff done and reaping the rewards.

If having our best life and ‘living the dream’ were all about getting what we deserve, then we might have a tough time explaining why the majority of the world’s population live in poverty.

I don’t think anyone deserves that.

PDF 2: Motivation is the key.

No it’s not.

If motivation is the key, we’re all doomed….

Because most of us fluctuate between ‘pumped’ and…”I can’t be bothered” on a regular basis.

Motivation is handy… it’s an asset… it’s great when it’s there… but is it the key? Nuh.

For most of us, ‘motivation’ is an emotional state we get into periodically.

We ‘feel’ motivated.

It comes and goes; that’s normal.

Successful people do what they need to do (to create the desired result) even when the ‘feeling’ of motivation ain’t there.

It certainly helps, but it isn’t necessarily make or break.

Sometimes success is more about some very un-cool things like discipline, self-control, resilience, work ethic and determination.

Mmm.. that’s not sexy; how can we sell that?

PDF 3: You can do anything.

Sorry to be the voice of reason but… you can’t.

You can do lots of amazing things and create incredible results in many areas of your life if you go about it the right way, but can you do anything if you set your mind to it? No.

It doesn’t matter how positive I am, how great my attitude is or how well I train myself… I ain’t running 100 metres in 8.0 seconds.


And I’m never going to record a best-selling rock album.

I wish.

Occasionally we need to navigate our way through the feel-good, mumbo-jumbo, meaningless, personal development fluff and get a little realistic and practical.

It’s great to be pumped, driven, positive and excited… but all of that emotion needs to have a practical plan attached to it.

Too many people are told what they want to hear rather than the truth; they feel good for a while but long-term they end up back where they started.

Or worse.

Yes it’s important that we’re positive, glass-half-full people but it’s also important that we understand the sometimes complex and uncomfortable realities of creating forever change.

PDF 4: Success is about what we can accumulate.

While not too many gurus would come out and say as much, there exists in our culture a huge emphasis on our ability to accumulate wealth; money, properties, vehicles, toys.

We all know this.

Successful people are rich; that’s the message.

Of course there is nothing wrong with being wealthy but when there is a school of thought which teaches that ‘success’ is essentially about our financial worth, then maybe we need to re-assess.

I’ve suggested many times on this blog that success is an internal thing (happiness, peace, joy, contentment) not an external thing (career, money, toys).

It is about who we are, what we do and how we choose to live our life.. not about our net worth.

PDF 5: It’s not your fault.

Mmm… often it’s (whatever it is) not our fault.

Some things are beyond our control and we have little or no say in the situation or circumstance.

However (of course that was coming), sometimes… it is our fault.

We don’t need to beat ourselves up for past mistakes but we do need to take responsibility for (many of) the realities of our life.

If you weigh 400 pounds there’s a fair chance you may have something to do with that!

If you’ve never held a job for more than three weeks…. you again.

Living in a world that tells you nothing is your fault is a dangerous, delusional place to be.

PDF 6: Always go with your gut.

What if your gut is wrong?

If you want your life to be a catastrophe, live your life by this rule.

Sometimes our ‘gut feeling’ is little more than an emotional reaction to a situation or event; not always the best place to make a decision from.

How about this: listen to your gut (factor it in), reason with your brain, consult with someone you trust….. and then make a decision.

PDF 7: Always look after number one.

Sometimes putting ourselves first is okay.

Necessary even.

But this is not to be confused with being a self-absorbed, greedy, pain in the arse.

Experience tells me that the more ‘all about us’ we are.. the less we grow and the unhappier we become.

Of course we want to manage our own life and develop ourselves the best we can, but sometimes the way ahead is actually by putting ourselves second.

Or tenth.