The Self-Development Industry

This week I had a conversation with a friend of mine John Purkiss www.johnpurkiss.com, who came out with an observation that summed up my big frustration in my line of work. I couldn’t put my finger on what wasn’t quite working, like listening to an orchestra with one instrument out of tune and you just can’t pick out what is a miss. As soon as John put what I was feeling into words the light bulb went on. Here it is in summary: The mind-body-spirit/self-development industry seems to be divided into two main camps. “You can be, do or have anything you want in life. My teachings assist you.” and “You may not get what you think you want in life, but you will discover who you are and what is possible. The results may exceed anything you’ve ever dreamed of.”

My teaching and consultations fall into the latter category. I believe in spiritual breakthrough rather than spiritual bypass. However the former is the one that puts the most ‘bums on seats’ at events and what many clients want. Let’s face it, working on yourself and confronting your ego is no easy task. Most people would love to find a very simple solution to avoid pain. But pain is a natural part of life; it is a growth tool, and we need to stop and reflect; we need to feel, otherwise, what is life all about?

We all get stuck from time to time, so going to classes in self-development, reading books, or consulting someone for help is advisable. However I have discovered that many teachings in life-coaching models encourage speakers and the people you consult for help to ‘Poke your pain’. To poke a client's or audience's pain, basically means to make them feel terrible about themselves or their situation, and then offer them a relatively easy solution. It normally involves parting with money. But when a person is in pain they will do anything to get out of pain and avoid future pain. Practitioners may charge large amounts of money, as the perception is the more you pay the better the results of the work. This often leaves the person in debt with no change in situation.

I have to say it does make me really frustrated. Getting what you want is only possible when you really think about why you want it. Problems cannot be bypassed if you want long term sustainable change.

It’s easy to sell bread to the starving, but teach them to bake the bread themselves and they never go hungry. Terrible business plan, but surely the art of helping people grow is to give them the fertile soil to do it themselves.