There recently was an interesting article in a major newspaper questioning the value of self-help books. Reading it reminded me of when I had my own epiphany about whether or not personal development books were actually helping me in any way. Like many other people, there had been a point in my life where I discovered self-help. The danger in walking down the self-help aisle is that you typically find yourself there for the first time when you are in a vulnerable position. When something about your life is unsatisfying.
Writers in this genre know this and they write specifically to gain your attention, using titles and promises that play into your hopes and fears. I’m not against helping yourself, and there are certain personal development books that I would happily recommend to friends. In my experience, though, these books have done little to help me succeed in any aspect of my life.
For me, a self-help book has been most useful if I was buying into help for a very specific reason. For example, I worked in management for years and I would read books on leadership and literally implement what I learned on a daily basis. A working manager educating herself on how to manage better is effective. Because I’m already doing the work. I just want to do it better. Kind of like a person who paints every day and buys a book to learn new techniques. That works.