Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Those Self-Help Books

What do Zig Ziglar, US Anderson, Irene Kassorla, Maxwell Maltz, Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill have in common? They are motivational experts. And they are very rich because we all subscribe to their philosophies and buy their books.

They were a huge influence in my life. They showed me how to survive by thinking positive thoughts and that all things are possible if I think so. Some of them taught me how to feel rich even without the huge filthy sums of money in my bank account, or floating around in the stock market. Most of all they taught me to get through with life, even when things looked so bad I felt like I was in a hole in the ground.

That wasn't all true though. I wanted to be rich by thinking like Napoleon. But, sheesh, it was the earlier Napoleon that kept creeping into my mind. You know, the guy who they said was "born apart", the one who allegedly said, "Able was I, I saw Elba…" I guess if I had kept at it I'd probably have ended up in St Helena. Only I was a few hundred years too late. Probably that saved me.

But about being in a hole in the ground, I did find myself, several times. Somehow those lessons helped. But I'd rather think the thing that got me out of those holes was the upbringing and survival instincts I inherited. The same thing that kept my grand-father in the boat from China until he landed here and then kept going until he cashed in of old age some time before the Japanese landed in Malaya. At least he was spared those crazy times. And it was the very same thing that kept my dad going, working the land to keep eight kids fed, clothed, and schooled.

Anyway, some of these guys taught me to work hard. So I did. I spent a whole part of my youth working my ass off, sometimes right through the night. OK that wasn't totally true either. I tried to avoid working late whenever possible. I noticed what happened to a cousin of mine who was constantly doing that. He succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 40. I blamed that on his staying up late and going on without proper nutrition too often. He never smoked and never drank. What else could he blame it on? It wasn’t inherited.

On my part it wasn't voluntary. I hated having to stay up all night just because my boss had to show his boss that his team of people could work right through the night if necessary. I zombied along and grumbled all the way home to bed the next morning. That wasn't working smart. That was stupid. Any kind of accident could happen when you're tired. We only succeeded in letting him know that he could further exploit us, and we'd let him do so willingly. Since we didn't have much choice those days, I stuck with that boss until I couldn't take it anymore. Then I quitted and started from scratch.

Then I read Robert Ringer's "Winning through Intimidation".

This Ringer guy didn't mince his words. He advocated that if you work hard you only end up getting old. Not rich, just old. He gave me his 'Uncle George" theory. He said probably every one of us had a relative or at least know someone who worked hard all his life keeping his nose to the wheel and who only managed to get old. I said, Hey! Here's one book which dumped all my past lessons and turned them all into cow pie overnight. Overnight was how long I took to read that book. I then took the next few days to digest it. Luckily it didn't taste like cow pie.

I found out that the Ringer guy was teaching me how to intimidate my way to the top of the pile, which means going into money-grabbing ventures and getting away with the dough. I thought that if everybody were to follow that philosophy then there'd be a whole lot more of aggression in the world, because everybody would be trying to out-intimidate everyone else, because nobody would want to lose face, and least of all, money.

And what he did was, he blew all those success philosophies to smithereens. Like, working hard, for example. He managed to convince me that most of those who became rich were actually embarrassed about how they made it. So they settled for some standard formula; something that could sell, other than luck and chance. These philosophies don't sell.

Upon further reading, I decided that I could use those ideas effectively; I only had to learn how to recognize those trying to intimidate me into giving them something for nothing. That means; not working for free, not paying money for nothing or substandard things or service, and not giving in to demands for my time when it doesn't benefit me. It also tried to tell me not to negotiate myself into a corner. I said 'tried' because it didn't succeed. I didn't manage to use it to earn and receive any substantial income. I blame it on my honesty. It (honesty) was too deeply entrenched in my head by my upbringing in the missionary school where they indoctrinated me with honesty being the best policy. There you go. Just how easy in life it is to blame someone or something else.

Later, after all these I decided to follow Michael Korda's advice that after 40 I could either dance the night away or sleep right through it. I guess that advice didn't catch on. I couldn't find any of this advice printed anywhere in the websites that feature his works. I guess taking things easy seems too cozy for those under 65 nowadays. Besides, it doesn't sell either. Anything that people value nowadays is something they have to pay for. They get them for free; they think it’s too good to be true.

Now back to those self-help books. What did they really do for me? They helped me feel good in whatever I wanted to do. I get to pick and choose what I want to believe and follow. That was all the good they ever did for me. I did all the fumbling right through life and came out with all those scratches and scars. I still thought some of it was fun. And I'm still proud that I did it my way. That wasn't my favorite song either, I just happen to like it because Frank Sinatra did it quite well.

When they asked me if I'd like to Think and Grow Rich, I asked, "Do I have do that all day?" I'd like to think about lots of other things as well. Like love, like hobbies, doodling and taking photos, having fun and spending time with family and watching my kids grow up and graduate.

While some say, enough is not enough, I'm happy enough. It could be better....but that's life.


  1. LOL, nice one. These are very perceptive view you've got on those rich peeps. This teaches us a lesson, never to follow blindly. One gotta have their own principle and mindset. So I think these books are really just there to aid not to change you.

    Recently, I've been introduced to the Awakening the Giant Within by Anthony Roberts. I think it's good. Been reading it ever since and discovered some pointers or reminders that is helpful for those times when there are predicaments and such.

  2. That's right. To aid not to change.
    U mean Anthony Robbins I suppose?