There was a time when doing any kind of coaching, self-help or personal development was a bit taboo - you had to be a hippie or have serious issues to spend your time and money on such things. Times have changed...
and now anyone who’s anyone has a coach, purchases of self help books are at an all time high and this raises another issue cited in a Guardian article last week - in the pursuit of becoming the best version of ourselves and finding our own path in life, aren’t we all becoming just a bit too self interested and narcissistic?
It’s an interesting argument and normal when an idea swings from one extreme to the other so let’s get a few things clear on what improving yourself really should be about:
Most of us are much more capable that we think we are.
Once people are emotionally regulated, can think clearly and understand themselves well, they find that they can achieve much more than they thought possible. This doesn’t mean big light bulb moments, but solid incremental steps forward. Human beings are complex creatures, but our brains like simplicity so we often ending not making sense of life and other people in a very helpful way. The good news is that getting enough knowledge about this to make a difference in your life no longer requires a psychology degree. Unless you want to work with other people clinically, a series of coaching or a self improvement course like an NLP Practitioner will probably give you all you need.
Your ability to communicate and have good relationships is the single biggest determining factor in your success.
A recent BBC study concluded that the quality of our relationships are the number one factor affecting happiness. Society doesn’t set you up well for it though, we learn to communicate chiefly by accident through modelling our parents and other people around us. Without some form of personal growth or development we will merely end up repeating their patterns, even if we don’t want to. In general most people have trouble with negotiating, conflict management skills and setting healthy boundaries (let’s face it we learn them in the play ground after all!). Very few people do this well, and by that I mean not so that they can beat other people up verbally, but so they can reach good compromises and resolve situations well. This is where the Guardian article raised concerns, that we all become too ‘to hell with everyone else’, and forget to care about other people. We get that. When these skills are trained poorly, where people don’t get enough chance to practise new approaches they come across aggressive and clunky. This is why this stuff is hard learnt from a book, you need to practise with another, living, breathing human being (who has no agenda for you) and get their feedback.
We are ALL sabotaged by our own thinking.
As Einstein said ’ we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them’. Yet we still try rather than seek help or find a way to take a different approach. Our deep seated attitudes, limiting beliefs about ourselves and other people and general habits and patterns limit us. Good quality personal development doesn’t involve throwing out who you are as a person, but mindfully tweaking and altering your thinking until you get results for yourself and other people that fit for you.
People are not broken and don’t need fixing. All the good work done by the likes of Princes Harry and William and other high profile people is helping us all to understand that our mental health is as important as physical health and the good news is that like good diet and exercise you can do things now to help your mental health now and in the future.
The world needs more emotionally resilient, well adjusted people, doing their bit to guide us through the times we are in. You don’t have to become a world peace negotiator to achieve this, raising healthy families, running healthy and successful businesses and teams at work, doing your bit for your community interest group - these all make a huge difference. But doing these things well is not easy so learning how to remain emotionally balanced, be a professional communicator and be able to understand yourself and others well sets a solid foundation to achieve whatever you want to in life.
Find something that works for you, avoid over inflated quick fix promises, do the work, keep going and you will get there. Choose your authors, coaching providers and training providers carefully. For lots of free resources, free webinars plus free guides on choosing coaching and training see our website.
Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, John is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. His new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.