Distilled Self-Help or Who is helped actually?

Hello everyone,

Today I want to write about interesting and hot topic these days as Self-help movement. And the main goal of this post is to try to figure out the useful parts of it.

The traces of the self-help moment are dated back to 19th century when the book of Samuel Smiles ‘Self-Help’ was published in 1859. Actually traces are even older if we consider works of ancient philosophers.

What really matters though is not the origins but the evolution of self-help movement and how it came to be as it is today when there are legions of self proclaimed self-helpers helping in most part enrich themselves.

But there are a number of real pearls, for my opinion, even in this sea of self-help chaos.

I think that any approach be it self-help or any other kind must have a scientific basis and must not be taking seriously without testing it first.

So according to this guideline I want to describe a number of self-help authors and their books that may be of use to you.

It is possible to split self-help movement into a number of intersecting fields. For example field that has its roots in popular psychology, pseudo-science, coaching, general literature. I`ll describe them in more details below.

I want to start from coaching field as it is called today. One of the prominent figures in this filed was Dale Carnegie who started his course on public speaking back in 1912. Dale Carnegie was a teacher and a salesman by education and used his skills to promote public speaking and sales courses becoming in effect the first coach of modern kind.

His most famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People‘ from 1936 is still readable and useful. Though this book hardly may be called scientifically based it still has useful advise that may help you in everyday communication with people. Dale Carnegie leave a heritage of Dale Carnegie Training that flourish to this day.

Next one worth mentioning who was a contemporary of Dale Carnegie was Napoleon Hill. He started as a journalist that happened to meet with one of the richest persons of his time Andrew Carnegie (not related to Dale Carnegie). Mr. Carnegie  challenged  Napoleon Hill to interview prominent people of his time and figure out what made them successful in life. As a result of this challenge came a number of books by Napoleon Hill and most famous one was ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ from 1937. This book is a collection of story based advises and wisdom. So it has no science based roots still there is a zest to it that may be useful.

Another person that also comes from sales background was W. Clement Stone. He collaborated with Napoleon Hill on one of Stone`s books ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude‘. Main point to be taken from the book is this quote ‘Every great man, every successful man, no matter what the field of endeavor, has known the magic that lies in these words: every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.

It seems that real burst of self-help movement was ignited by Earl Nightingale that had a radio program on self-help topics and appeared on TV. His well known master piece is the ‘The Strangest Secret‘ that was no more than motivational pep talk to salespersons at the company Mr. Nightingale worked at the time. The main point to be taken form his talk is this ‘Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.’

Next person who happened to start his career as salesperson at Nightingale-Conant Publishing was Brian Tracy. Mr. Tracy has produced wealth of content throughout his coaching career and the most remarkable for my opinion is ‘Maximum Achievement‘ book from 1993. If you`ll ignore pseudo-science subconscious mind stuff the book still has some insights and quotes from W. Clement Stone etc.

[Attention here comes opinionated view]

As you may have noticed there is a strong relationship between self-help courses and sales. I mean those who teach how to succeed are trying to sale there courses, books whatever in the first place. The content though sometimes important is on the second place.

There are many more self-help authors these days but those above stood out.

A few words on pseudo-science filed. I tend to put there Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) though it has interesting basic assumptions, The Secret movement and the like.

And last but not least is the field of general literature, I`ll mention Richard Bach`s ‘Illusions‘  and Paulo Coelho`s ‘The Alchemist‘ as worth glancing.


Thanks for investing your time in reading this.

I hope it was worth it.

Till next time.


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