Sunday, April 29, 2012

Over-coming Fear And Increasing Achievement; The Basis of The Self Help Industry

Dale Carnegie would tell you that he made a living all those years, not by teaching public speaking - that was incidental. His main job was to help people conquer their fears and develop courage.  For the purpose of this writing I'm defining fear as a state of purposeful inactivity (escape and avoidance behavior) and courage as a state of observable action (exposure to feared situations).

As of 2008, the self help area of books, video's and public speaking was considered to be a $11 billion industry and still growing.  A quick search of listed almost 150,000 current titles related to self help.  A cursory review of titles suggests that self help materials could be broken down into 4 or more distinct area's including self improvement, relationship building, work related behavior, and business improvement; the list could go on and on.  Visual inspection suggests that self help books and audio tapes cost an average of $11 each and well known associated names include Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Deepak Chopra, and Marianne Williamson among others.

At the end of the day, what all these resources share is an unwavering belief that courage towards our specific fears results in the success we desire.  This is a premise I wholeheartedly support and encourage.  Whether or not self help resources are the best delivery system for this message is another issue.

Perhaps the most vocal and well known detractor of the self help movement is Steve Salerno, author of Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (  Salerno believes, as the title suggests, we have become less self reliant due in large part to a growing belief we are either victims of some wrong inflicted upon us or a victim of a disease process outside of our own control; in either case a victim who may not be responsible for our own behavior.

The basic conflict put forth by those who do not espouse the self help movement is that our society values and morals are eroded by today's brand of victimology and that as a society we are more self reliant when we adhere to more traditional values of personal responsibility and self determinism.  

In other words, take responsibility for our own actions and step up to correct the things in our life we do have control over.  Face our fears and act courageously.  Sounds to me like the exact nature of people who make successful changes in their life.

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