Self Help or Help Yourself

March 16, 2016 9:49 am Published by

As a self diagnosed sufferer of a mild form of attention deficit, I find that I very seldom take the time to sit down quietly with a book and read. Unfortunately, that leaves me on the wrong side of the Mark Twain truism: the man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. It is not that I dont like to read, I do. Rather, I seem to be easily distracted by virtually anything else. A book versus any present bright shiny object, and the book does not stand a chance. As a result, the most contiguous reading I am able to achieve comes when I am confined to an airplane for several hours in a row. So it was, on a recent flight to Phoenix, that I found myself immersed in a biography on Elon Musk. If ever you find yourself feeling satisfied about your lifes accomplishments, the story of a come from nothing entrepreneur who built 3 separate billion dollar companies ( PayPal, Space-X and Tesla Motors) all before his 40th birthday, is a certain cure. To characterize Mr. Musk as driven, would be an understatement. But, as the saying goes, no one ever won a horse race by yelling WHOA.

I purchased the book in the airport bookstore, where it was shelved with books that can loosely be categorized into 3 sections: Novels, biographies of the uber successful, and self help books that endeavour to help us become uber successful. Personally, I find myself attracted to the autobiographies, figuring them to be akin to self help books – without the middleman. Curiosity and amazement however, lead me to peruse the self help section where I am continually amazed with the never ending flow of published product that when boiled down, mostly seem to be a rewriting of the original self help book – Norman Vincent Peales 1952 classic: The Power of Positive Thinking. Or, for those of you who may suffer a similar affliction as I, The Little Engine Who Could tells you most of what you need to know. Remember I think I can, I think I can, I think I can from grade school? The uber successful apparently already know they can. The rest of us, seem to be to some degree, constantly needing to reassure ourselves that maybe, just maybe, if we read the right books, hire the right life coach, hang out with the right people – we too can.

The life coach profession is a curious phenomenon in society today, and admittedly not one that I have fully understood (although I have a hunch that Elon Musk doesnt have one). As best I can tell, a Life Coach is a paid mentor – and we all need mentors. Given a choice however, I would prefer to be mentored by someone successful enough on their own accord that they dont need my money. What it isn’t however, is new. In an earlier and more idyllic era, we all had a Life Coach. Back then we called them mom and dad.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann

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