The self-improvement industry is worth $12 billion annually with more than 45,000 self-help titles in print.
Each year, more books are published and more dollars spent. And each year, the poor keep getting poorer. How poor? The median American in the bottom quintile of wealth is 63% poorer than his counterpart a generation ago, with similar drops in wealth for the next two socioeconomic strata.
These are the people buying books, listening to tapes, attending seminars, spending $12 billion on self-improvement each year. And it’s getting them nowhere.
Why? Because people aren’t looking for the “secrets” to success, they’re looking for the “shortcuts” to success.
They want to get rich with no risk and no money down; they want to lose weight without diet or exercise; they want to look 20 years younger overnight, through creams, lotion, and glitter.
Effortless, simple, risk-free! Those are the headlines that sell. No work required! And people buy and consume the hype, gorging themselves to the tune of $12 billion each year.
They read the books, watch the DVDs, and listen to the seminars. It makes them feel drunk, high. Their feet leave the ground and they spacewalk to the moon. Their dreams are alive and well, within reach, and it’s effortless, simple, risk-free – the books and seminars said so.
But weeks pass, then months, and of course, nothing changes in their life.
Each evening they wish upon a Ferrari, and each morning they wake up disappointed. And each year the cycle repeats itself: the poor and fat consume another $12 billion of self-improvement and end up poorer and fatter than ever before.
The truth is that success requires work, effort, action. But people don’t want truth – they want the results without the work. They want shortcuts, wishful thinking, unwilling to admit that success won’t happen by itself.
But think logically for a moment. Reading fitness books won’t make you fit; you must read the books and take action – change your diet, start exercising.
And attending wealth seminars won’t make you wealthy; you must attend the seminars and take action – spend less, invest more, start a business.
No matter how precise your goals, no matter how great your desire and self-belief, no matter how much knowledge you’ve crammed into your head, nothing will happen without action.
Action is the genesis of success – the start, the beginning. Without action, there’s no motion. Everything remains frozen, sterile, dead.
Action = results.
There are thousands of books, millions, that never left their authors’ minds – books that could have improved mankind, brought joy and wonder into our lives, inspiration, philosophy, meaning – which are lost, unborn, dead before inception.
The goal pyramid for my book, Life in Half a Second, hangs in front of me; my desire is enormous; I know I can achieve the goal; I know what to write and how to write it.
But the book won’t write itself. Unless I take action – unless I sit down each morning and write Life in Half a Second, page by page, the book won’t exist.
Matthew Michalewicz was the co-founder of SolveIT Software in Adelaide, NuTech Solutions in the US, personal training business Fitness Forever and financial planning business CFG Investments.
He has written books about entrepreneurship and innovation. The above is an excerpt from his latest book, ‘Life In Half A Second’.
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