Why self-help books will not help you to move ahead with your business

thoreau

About 10 years ago I was in a sort of a turning point in my life, when I decided to radically change the course of my professional orientation – from geology and natural sciences I swam into managerial waters. Somehow my easy-going, free research spirit started to be molded by managerial principles, business rules and ext. I was still involved with natural sciences, but on the other side of fence: instead of exploring I was learning how to manage resources and it included entirely different way of thinking… and enjoying company of different people.

My business school professors and colleagues had a list of books that if you want to survive in the business world is a MUST read. Some of them included famous Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. As much as I agree and wholeheartedly advocate the habit of positive thinking, I do find that these type of books have a certain limitations if you try to live by their implied rules and suggestions.

The real world does not operate as the self-help gurus would want you to believe. Focus on consumption, consumerism, acquiring more of material stuff, while neglecting spiritual and purposeful side of our existing in the world is only contributing to already soulless corporate system. We all want to be better than we are or used to be, but instead of money and material wealth to be our measure of success, we should focus on contribution, value, integrity and sharing.

To really live is to experience life in all its manifestations, but that’s not the obstacle to live in the state of love, empathy and caring. My reading list of books to help you move ahead is accordingly a little bit different.

I would recommend:

Walden by Henry Thoreau, which takes you on the journey of discovering real treasurers in life. It helped me to appreciate more life and enjoy the gifts we all have.

The second one is the Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems: 1957-1982. In one of his poems he writes:

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Metaphorically speaking, poet encourages us to seek the meaning in things like family and spirituality, to look deep inside ourselves in order to find peace and harmony. In his poems, every word is entwined with love for nature and community and he writes with such sureness and agility, that is so easy to absorb any of his thoughts. It’s a great reminder that how we integrate ourselves in the world around us, what are our core beliefs and purpose is the measure of success. Finding purpose everyday in your life is your shortcut to success.

 

4 Comments

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    • I’m not totally against self-help books, it’s just that instructional tone that they carry..I think our insights and needs for change have to come from the inside, when we are ready and open. Instead of someone telling what and how to do, I like to feel more inspired to do..like in meditation for instance. In one of my articles “Develop your own mindfulness practice for more patience and joy at work” I talk about using poetry as meditative tool. I find it quite helpful. Maybe is also something for you to try 🙂

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