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Why So Much Self-Help Misses the Point

Vol. 25 Issue 2

Post Categories: Entrepreneurial Journey, Personal Growth

Improve yourself by learning to show up for other people.

Here’s a question: What if we spent less time on “self-improvement” and more time showing up for others?

A lot of us spend considerable time and energy, not to mention money, on learning better people skills, sales skills, skills in communications, personality tests, etc., and in so doing get so introspective and so focused on ourselves that we forget to show up for others.

There are real benefits to many of the self-help programs, but I’ve also come to understand that, for the most part, those programs mostly offer simple techniques and strategies.

We strive to better ourselves through these programs, hoping to be happier and more successful, when in all actuality we already have everything we need for success and happiness. All this self-help stuff, a multibillion-dollar industry, sorely misses the mark. We eat it up like candy and can easily become self-help junkies (guilty as charged) going for the next offering to fix whatever it is we believe might be holding us back.

So I’m driving a big nail in the self-help industry’s coffin with this statement: No one ever needs fixing. Not you, not me, no one. There may be certain aspects of ourselves we’re not fond of, but those will dissolve on their own when we shift our focus.

Start showing up for others intentionally. Most of us interact by default and rarely show up with a real interest in another person. We don’t have to know where we fall on the Enneagram or what personality traits any of us have. It doesn’t matter what someone’s Myers-Briggs type indicator or love language is. Those can all be fun and helpful to learn, but to really show up for someone else with curiosity, compassion and a true desire to connect trumps everything else.

There is no greater gift we can give another human being than to show up for them in a way that allows them to be seen. To really see someone, their warts and all, and know they don’t need fixing changes everything. This may be the most powerful relationship secret there is and can make a tremendous difference. It works everywhere, at home and in the business world.

Here’s something to try at work next time you have a meeting with an employee, co-worker or business partner. Turn off all distractions, hold your calls, pull out pen and paper and ask questions. Then listen, and I mean really listen. Showing up for a significant other in this way at home works miracles, too, though you may want to nix the pen and paper—or not!

As you start showing up for others in ways that allow them to be seen and heard, you’ll create connections in very different ways. You’ll find yourself seeing fewer and fewer flaws in yourself and others, and if you really, really show up, you’ll realize that it was never was about you. You now have the freedom to truly enjoy success and happiness however you define them.