in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

What 80% Of Readers Won’t Do – 3 Lessons From The Self-Help Section

“Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it.” — Kevin Smith

It’s great when people ask you what books they should pick up.

But lately I’ve been getting asked about books on self-help, personal development, and self improvement. I’ve noticed it trending towards people who ask something like: “What books should I read to get inpired to do that one thing I’ve been putting off for years?”

Well, for those interested in the answer, I’m not going to recommend any books in this particular case.


  1. Because this kind of question worries me.
  2. Because the statistic below worries me.

Publishing statistics seem to suggest that about 80% of people who buy self-help books are repeat buyers. Also, the most likely buyer of a self-help book is someone who bought one 18 months earlier.

This means that you (yes, I’m pointing my finger at YOU!) are very likely to end up buying and reading books rather than actually doing whatever the hell you’ve been putting off for who knows how many years.

And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t want that.

I want you (again, pointing my finger at YOU!) to get up (or sit down) and actually do it.

Pile Of Books

Read ’em and *bleep*!

Now, after reading 400+ books I can tell you the 3 major things that most of these books will tell you. And if that’s not enough to get you off of your ass, well, you’re probably not going to do it anyway. So, you might as well read what other people have recommended and enjoy life as best you can.

  1. You’re going to die. Yup, that’s it. One day you’ll be lying on your death bed having either done it or regretting not doing it. You can start imagining that scenario right now, it might be what kicks your ass into gear. Or perhaps, like me, start suffering from panic anxiety, and crying yourself to sleep. However, if you can grasp this lesson and/or get professional help managing the emotions that stand in your way, you’ll start behaving very differently. Not only when it comes to going for things you want, but in other areas of your life as well.
  2. Systems are greater than Willpower. While people might be divided on this issue, the only way to get somewhat consistent results is by setting up systems that enable you to do more of what you want, and less of what you don’t. Also, how those systems look and work are heavily predicated on the individual. For example, if you want to start exercizing it might be helpful if you get weights, a bench, and a treadmill at home. For someone else it might be better to have a gym membership where you go right after work. And for yet another it might be best to hire a personal trainer, let’s call him Jim, who holds you accountable and makes sure you show up every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. See, it’s about recognizing how you function, and what systems work best for you.
  3. You will fail, so get comfortable with it. So many of us try to safeguard ourselves against failure. In the process we end up procrastinating indefinitely or focusing so much on being safe that we never really get there. It’s like we knock on the door, it opens, but we never step inside because we’re afraid of what might happen if we do.

I know that statistically about 80% of people, if not more, will read the following quote, feel really inspired, but never do what it actually asks you to do.

I’ll include it anyway, because someone just might read it, get it, and do something about it.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

– Michael Jordan

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Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!


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