Getting the Most Out of Self-help and Motivational Books

What do you think is the cheapest investment you can do to achieve your goals? For the same price, few things could match the impact of a motivational book in energizing your will to succeed. Despite this, most people would rather read popular novels like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” to relax instead of readings books that could change their lives.
In our fast-paced world, there is hardly time to do what must be done—let alone read books. No wonder fewer people are reading books, and far fewer still are reading motivational books. Despite the glowing promises on the cover, many believe that it is a false assurance. It is a pity that motivational books have a poor reputation with some people.
Self-help/motivational books are indeed full of extremely helpful advice that inspires and aids countless people, but there are also those with ideas that are of doubtful value or are possibly even harmful. Even famous books can have dubious parts, which means that readers of self-help/motivational books must not just believe everything they read. However, it is no simple matter to separate the grain from the chaff. To guide readers, I’ll discuss both the advantages and what to be wary of when reading motivational books:
It helps build your self-confidence. For most people, the only missing ingredient is self-confidence. How often do you know of someone who is wildly successful, but who you personally know is less capable than yourself? It is a common theme in motivational books to read of stories of people who are in terrible situations overcome and triumph against all odds. Such examples rarely fail to boost ones confidence.
You are taught the actual steps to take. The best motivational books not only motivate, but also spell out in detail what you have to do to accomplish your objectives.
It teaches or reminds you on the right attitude to take. It may seem just simple, but all of us need a good advice now and then. Sometimes in the middle of stressful challenges even highly intelligent people fail to respond correctly. A timely reminder of the best attitude to take can prove very useful to a person who is being engulfed in problems.
It stimulates your creativity. The underdogs in motivational books do not succeed by using magic. Besides perseverance they often manage to do so by using unconventional tactics.
You are able to learn the success secrets of the masters. There is no need to reinvent the wheel— if you can apply the actions that worked for others, then you may try to adapt them. Sometimes just reading of the innovative or gutsy way a person has managed to solve a problem can inspire you to come up with a similarly brilliant solution.
It may save you money. More knowledge on a given topic may save you money by enabling you to make better decisions.
It gets you motivated. If all a motivational book accomplishes is to increase your motivation, then it is already worth more than what you spent for the book.
What you must be careful of:
Get rich quick schemes. While reading about people who made a fortune shortly after reading the book may be exciting, you must be aware that there is no such thing as a sure path to instant wealth. At worst, you may be taken in by a scam or you may be disappointed after you failed to reach such over optimistic expectations.
Neglecting professional help when needed. Things are often not as simple as they seem. This is especially dangerous if it concerns your health, especially if it’s of the emotional and psychological nature. While there are many things you can do on your own, there are cases where it is better to seek the help of a professional in the field.
Unproven ideas. A person would have been considered insane during ancient times if he thought the earth was anywhere but in the center. However, empirical evidence and scientific research have proven that correct. Be wary of ideas that seem too good to be true or lack basis. Ideas that are contrary to known science need to be examined with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Neglecting skill-building activities. You may be so impressed by the power of the motivated mind that you can easily give insufficient effort to actually acquiring needed skills. Motivation is like advertising. If you advertise a low quality product, you will just increase the number of people who will learn about its shortcomings. In the same way that displaying confidence without actual expertise will make you a laughing stock as you will soon be exposed as incompetent.
Self-help/motivational books can bring a fresh and stimulating perspective that recharges your spirit. Even if you already heard many of the ideas taught, the repetition and inspiring stories will serve to reinforce your determination to apply the lessons. But do not forget that despite all the benefits of self-help and motivational books, you still must always check the soundness of the given advice.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.