Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
The above is a timeless warning from the book of Ecclesiastes – kind of reminds me of the old Home Depot slogan more saving more doing – less reading more doing 😊
That having been said, the Preacher didn’t say don’t study, but instead I think, argued for balance and against bromides, a bromide being a trite and unoriginal idea or remark, typically intended to soothe or placate, i.e., feel good bromides create the illusion of problem solving. If it’s anything the world needs less of today and has more of, it’s 21st century bromide double speak, like this from a New Yorker article “Improving Ourselves to Death” by Alexandra Schwartz.
“Once your goals are in place, it might be smart to design a methodology that will encourage you to accomplish them. Charles Duhigg, the author of “The Power of Habit,” recommends a three-step self-conditioning process. You want to get to the gym more? Pick a cue (sneakers by the door); choose a reward that will motivate you to act on it (a piece of chocolate); execute. Bravo! You are now Pavlov and his dog.
But soon enough February will come, mid-winter doldrums will set in, and you’ll start to slide. Not to worry. Jane McGonigal’s “SuperBetter” tells you how to gamify your way back from the edge with the help of video-game-inspired techniques like finding “allies” and collecting motivational “power-ups”; and Angela Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” reminds you that persistence makes all the difference when the going gets rough. Duckworth doesn’t think you need talent in order to become, as another of Duhigg’s books puts it, “Smarter Better Faster,” and neither do any of these other experts. According to their systems, anyone can learn to be more efficient, more focused, more effective in the pursuit of happiness and, that most hallowed of modern traits, productivity. And if you can’t, well, that’s on you.”
The article is a fascinating, by turns hilarious and cautionary, tale of the western world’s long standing creation and embrace of yet another market, the $10 billion per year self-improvement industry.
Now, I am not against self-improvement. In fact, I consume lots of content that I seek to use to make me better and I work hard to share that knowledge with our team in the hope that we can all add to our toolbox of life skills to make us better at serving, which is the point of life. The old truths are the best truths and as upside down as it seems in our consumerist culture, it remains forever true that more blessings come from giving than from receiving.
Which brings me to the point of this weeks and maybe next weeks missive(s).
I mentioned “The Wisdom of the Flying Pig” last week, a compendium of (mostly) anti-bromides of a leadership and management variety by Jack Hayhow. I am currently reading this to our team at Advance as a part of our ongoing education series. I was struck at the beginning of the process at just how applicable his summaries are reminding us that everyone manages something even if it just yourself.
“Don’t try to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. Napoleon Hill once said, “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
The idea that we can do anything we want as long as we work hard enough is just plain wrong.”
He means simply if you are 5’5” and weigh 130 lbs. you will never be an NFL linebacker, which is unassailably, incontrovertibly, true. He goes on to add, “So I’d like to suggest an adaption of Mr. Hill’s bromide: “Anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve – as long as the required talent is also present.” He explains that all of us, for ourselves and those we seek to serve, that one of the best things, one of the most PRODUCTIVE things we can do is identify talent and apply it to tasks that need to be accomplished in moving toward our shared success.
Stay Curious My Friends