Self-improvement Books and Real Change

Did you ever wonder why there are so many business self-help books on the market today? Amazon even has a category for Business Motivation and Self-Improvement.  It’s not to be entertained, certainly not just to gain facts or be educated on global economics!

The simple fact is, people read business self-improvement books because they are looking for solutions to their problems.  Not just any business problem, their specific problem. They want to find answers to such pressing issues as:  how to deliver results, how to lead people, how to sell, how to negotiate, how to innovate.  I also classify biographies and autobiographies of successful business people in the category of self-help.  At least that’s why I read them, along with a natural human trait of voyerism into other people’s lives!

Okay, so if people are looking for “how to’s” and solutions, then why do the problems seem to continue after reading the book that contains the solution?

It’s the same reason that reading a diet book doesn’t really result in weight loss!  It’s not the information, it’s the application.  It’s not the knowing, it’s the doing.

Here’s a great question to ask yourself every morning.  “What am I knowing that I’m not acting on?  Say that again:  What am I knowing (about my problem and its solution) that I’m not acting on?

Then use the 5-Why tool of effective problem solving.  Ask yourself “Why am I not acting on what I know?” Answer that question.  Then keep asking “WHY” five times (answering each time of course) and fairly soon you will get to the real reason.

In my case, and in most cases, it’s fear!  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, just plain fear.

Another thing I’ve learned, and need to continue learning:  The things we fear, when confronted by a positive action, often turn into shrinking cowards.  So feel the fear and do it anyway.

WHY?  Because it works!

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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