After reading my first self-help book, I was hooked – I think it was Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell. I’ve started reading books only on this topics and no other genre was of interest to me. I thought that by constantly consuming “how to be successful” books, I will eventually become successful and profitable. Not that the books weren’t valuable, quite on contrary, they were. Simply, I wasn’t doing anything else besides reading.
There is a common belief that self-help books will make a person successful and skyrocket him towards the first spot in any industry. In a way this is true. After all, there is this word “help” in the self-help genre. So, how many self-help books you need to read to become successful?
The net is flooded with content about making our lives better and helping us win the war of mediocre lifestyle. The question is: does this content can really help us get rich and successful or all of the authors are simply taking our money?
I will try to answer this question with the content below. Let’s first see how reading self-help books help us:
Reading 100 Self-Help Books
Firstly, let’s see how long it will take you to read 100 books, in general. The average length of a single book is around 250 pages.1 One hundred times two hundred and fifty equals 25,000 pages. If you’re reading 20 pages a day, which is the average reading ration for many people, it will mean that you will need 3 years and four months to read 100 self-help books or any kind of books.2
I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a girl that have read more than 100 self-help books. The girl is really smart you can give her that. You can sit with her and have a decent conversation on different topics and feel pretty good about the girl. If you’re smart yourself, you can even fall in love with the girl. Still, let’s see how reading 100 self-help books influenced her life:
Well, she’s smart, practical, self-controlled, ambitions, she works in a corporate firm and takes care of her body by exercising regularly. She knows her limitations, strengths, weaknesses, and she is doing her best to improve herself in every possible direction. However, in terms of income or in terms of long-lasting impact on the world, she is nothing more than the average person walking around the street. She’s kind of happy with her life and with her career, but she’s only focused on herself and her needs without considering the rest of the world.
Reading 50 Self Help Books
If we use the calculation from above and simply divide the number by two, we will see that we’ll need around 1 year and 8 months to read 50 self-help books. I’m pretty close to reading 50 self-help books myself. I’ve read around 70 books through my entire lifetime, probably. The majority of which in the above-mentioned genre.
How this influenced my life? Let’s see:
It surely motivational to read a book in this genre. You get a burst of energy to start something new, to change the world, to start a business, to create, to be, to become. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do, but I at least knew that it has something to do with my passion. So I started asking myself: “What do I like? What I don’t like? What’s my passion?” Since 2010, I’ve created several sites – 6 to be exact. My first site was a motivational site. A site about becoming a better self. After that, I’ve created websites that are more focused towards building a website with WordPress.3 Now, on this site, as you can see, I’ve returned back to my roots and I write about improving myself. The other thing that happened after reading 50 self-help books was the fact that I become more organized and I started to value my time. I quit smoking, drinking and I regularly exercise. I was promoted 2 times for less than 2 years in my current job. I’m not sure if all of the above is thanks to reading, but it surely helped me a lot.
Am I successful? Well, it depends how you see success. I still don’t consider myself successful. Probably because my site is still not making the impact I hope it will.
Not Reading Self-Help Books
One of my best friends is quite a smart guy even though he doesn’t read much. I don’t think he even read one self-help book in his entire life. However, he is one of the best businessmen I’ve ever know. He is a born salesman. He has his own personal business and he earns good amount of money. He sees opportunity and he acts.
Is he successful? Well, he works a lot. Around 11-12 hours a day. Every day except Sunday, if he’s lucky. He earns enough money to afford a nice car, fancy clothes, vacations to exotic places every year. He doesn’t complain and he likes what he does. So, according to the standards set by society, he made it.
The Problem with Self-Help Books
So, it turns out that people who read a lot are lazy cowards who earn an average wage and read because they don’t have anything else better to do. Is this correct? Yes, you can basically put it this way. Like social media, listening to music, watching television and porn, one can easily lose himself behind books. Novels can easily become a habit, not in a good way though. I’m sure you know a lot of people who constantly go to courses, read books, blogs, motivational quotes and videos that will potentially make them better selves. It seems like this is the only thing they do – consume positive content but it’s like they never put it into action.
We watch a video about making better sales calls and while we go through the short movie we agree with everything the author is saying but once the film is over, we once again go to our old habits where we don’t ask enough questions and we lose the sale.
I was such a guy myself. I was only consuming content without actually putting it into action. I become a self-help junkie. Constantly looking for more. I thought that this was the only way I will become successful and earn enough money to buy myself a cozy apartment.
Of course, this never happened. I was like: “Ok, that was a good book. There are a lot of valuable things inside and I should change my perspective so it can match the ideas of the author.” The next day I was again sleeping till noon and not doing much of a difference.4
You won’t change much if you only read a book. You will also need to act. Put effort and apply the techniques the author is mentioning in the book. Otherwise, there won’t be any point in reading any book. You simply wasted your time.
Two Main Problems:
There are two main problems with self-help content that I will like to point out:
Obsessed with content:
Although all of the authors of the different types of self-help content are all saying that they want to help you progress, they’re also doing it for the money. But of course, we all need to make a buck. Simply, don’t fall for the cheezy headlines or for the stuffed with positive reviews landing pages where people want to sell you something you don’t actually need or you actually already know.
Most of the so-called experts are repeating pretty much the same things in all of their posts, videos, or other: Be positive; Dress to impress; Have a morning routine; Don’t have a morning routine; Drink a lot of water; Drink coffee and water; Take a cold shower in the morning; Go for walk; Delete your Facebook account. We quite often see the message to delete our Facebook exactly on Facebook. Isn’t this strange? Remember, self-help authors need money too. So, don’t buy everything they sell. Don’t get so obsessed with content. Rather, set a goal and pursue it and use the self-help content as a leverage to create even better content.
Just do it, dude.5 The comfort of the comfort zone is really cozy. I know from personal experience. Once I first read The Game by Neil Strauss, I did it because I wanted to learn how to seduce women. The book has a lot of practical advice that can help you persuade a female to go to bed with you but by only going through the pages you won’t actually see a naked flesh in front of your eyes. Maybe on a computer screen, but not on top of you.
You’ve surely heard this quote:
It’s always best to challenge yourself and go to a place out of your comfort zone.” Eliot Sumner
Or this one:
Be willing to step outside your comfort zone once in a while; take the risks in life that seem worth taking. The ride might not be as predictable if you’d just planted your feet and stayed put, but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting.” Edward Whitacre, Jr.
It doesn’t quite matter which one you’ve read precisely. All of them say pretty much the same thing: you need to act and be willing to do stuff that you’re afraid of doing. Was I afraid of speaking to a woman I don’t know for the first time? Hell yeah. Was I afraid speaking to a woman I don’t know after speaking with 20 women before that? Not so much. It was still a bit strange but I was in the zone and I didn’t care much if the girl will refuse me.
By exposing yourself to a lot of uncomfortable things they will soon feel ok. That’s the whole idea of getting out of your comfort zone and actually doing stuff that doesn’t feel quite good in the beginning. By taking baby steps you will soon expand your own bubble and you will feel much better.
The Main Benefit of Self-Help Books
Ok, at this point, you will probably ask yourself is there any benefit of reading self-help titles at all? I asked myself the same question hundreds of times. Why? Why I’m still reading books that I kind of know what I will find inside?
Besides the obvious reason: such books are a good read, there is one more reason that no so many people are aware of: Self-help books help me stay on track and remind me what’s important. Imagine this like food for the brain. If you want to have a healthy body, you will exercise regularly and you will eat healthy food. Well, the same applies if you want to be a positive person and if you want to actually make a change in the world. You will want to feed your mind with positive content that will help you stay on track.
Reading self-help books acts as a reminder of what matters. The current world we live in is a world full of noise. There are constantly people, ads, signs that are telling us to buy this and that, to eat more, to watch the news. We turn the television and we see murder, death, bankruptcy and we tell ourselves: “What’s the point of pushing harder. It’s best to live an easier life and drift away.”
Self-help books are a reminder of what’s important in life, what you need to focus on and to help you from quitting. Even though most of the books have similar content, there is always something new that will learn: a new point of view, a new story, a new technique. The content will keep you inspired and help you go back to your work and master your craft.
Reading all published self-help books will certainly not make you successful. Not reading even one doesn’t mean that you will live a miserable life as well. It all comes down to how much motivation you need.
If you’re smart enough and if you’re willing to do the work, the hard work every single day, you will succeed without having to read anything.
On the other hand, if you’re still not quite sure what you want to do, and you’re still searching for your meaning then you should probably need some motivation and some guidance.
No matter which one of the above is true, the most important thing is to act. If you don’t push yourself every day for the better, you’re letting your body, mind, and self-degenerating.
- The following articles shows a really good chart in regards how the average book length changed for the last couple of years: LINK.
- Here’s the whole calculation: 25,000/20=1,250 days. 1,250/365= 3,424 years.
- Here are the links to my two other sites if you’re interested: narrowem.com; buildp.com
- The above is one of the reasons I’ve created this site and more particularly the book reviews section. After I read a book I tend to forget what I learn and that’s why I started writing notes.
- This one minute video is probably the best motivational videos in the whole world. I’m sure it will help if you watch it once a day: link.