Most Self-Help Doesn't Work

Jul 30, 2017

A Floyd Wickman Team blog by Mike Pallin “I don’t understand why so many people are looking for self-help. If you’re looking for self-help, why would you read a book written by somebody else? That’s not self-help, that’s help. There’s really no such thing as self-help. If you did it yourself, you didn’t need help. You did it yourself. You’ve gotta pay attention to the language we’ve all agreed on.” – George Carlin

“Most self-help doesn’t work for most people most of the time.” –Floyd Wickman

I walked into the Barnes & Noble book store in Ann Arbor and asked the clerk for directions to the self-help section, and she said, “If I told you, that would defeat the whole purpose.”

OK, that is a slight exaggeration, but I did visit the Self-Help section and was amazed. There is a self-help program for doing almost anything you can imagine. How to lose weight. How to stop smoking. How to find the perfect mate. How to find the perfect job. How to learn Swahili. How to get rich. How to retire early. How to go back to work after you retire. You name it, there’s a self-help guide or book or program to get you there.

And yet, Floyd is right on when he says that most self-help doesn’t work for most people most of the time. Why is that so true? What’s missing from most self-help?

What’s missing from most self-help is the secret ingredient of help – other people! Other people to hold you accountable. Other people to encourage and support you. Other people to share the struggle and the joy with. Other people to give you a larger perspective when you are lost in the details. Other people to troubleshoot when you are off track. Other people to help you avoid procrastination. Other people to cheer you up and celebrate your successes. Other people for you to help as they help you.

In a word, teamwork! And in another word, a coach. Or a trainer. Or a guide. Or a mentor. Or a teacher. And teammates.

A group of people working together in a spirit of harmony for a common goal will always produce better results than a group of people working as individuals.

George has a good point, too. If you could do it yourself, you would do it yourself.

Let’s take lead generation as a for instance. Without leads, staying in business is a very chancy proposition. Whether you generate them yourself, or buy them, or have them handed to you, leads are a necessity.

We did an experiment with 1,000,000 real estate salespeople. (Actually, we’re still in the middle of it, but the results so far are very enlightening.) We taught 200,000 of them to generate their own leads and how to work together as a team. Every week someone asked them how many conversations they had. Every week they had to report their results to their teammates, their trainer and their supervisor, both out loud and in writing. Every week there was recognition and a reward if they did, and a penalty if they didn’t. Their teammates cheered for their successes, and empathized with their challenges. These 200,000 were always within an arms’ length of help if they needed it.

The other 800,000 real estate salespeople have so far been left on their own. Go figure it out all by yourself. Work at generating leads if you feel like it, or not. Your choice.

What has happened so far is that the 200,000 have produced more leads than all the 800,000 combined.

Granted we’re just getting started and this experiment is only over a 37 year period of time in every economy imaginable, in every area of the country and during every season of the year. But I think we’re onto something.

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