The self-help industry is big. Really big. In fact it is projected to be over $13 billion dollars by the end of this year and keep on growing. That includes books and videos and podcasts and speaking, but not school. This is “self” help after all.

If one way you want to help yourself is financially, write a book on how others can help themselves.

Do a good job with that and you will help a lot of people. You’ll probably also be asked to speak at various events. The top speakers in America are paid between $25,000 and $75,000 per speech. That also helps a lot of people and sounds simple, but it is a tough gig. (I know, you’d still like to try it once.)

Why is the industry so big? Because people — including me — really do want to improve.

I own a number of books that fall into the self-help category, including the currently popular Atomic Habits by James Clear, and the long time best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I have also been to the Global Leadership Summit several times, and just last week spent two days at the 2023 edition. It was self-help from a fire hydrant for leaders and future leaders. Books, you will guess, were for sale. I loved it all.

Why get better?

I heard a professional golf instructor say the best way to learn a new swing is at home. Immediately I thought, “This guy has never met my wife. She hates it when I hit golf balls in the house.”

But he went on to say he recommends just rehearsing parts of the swing, not hitting balls. He claimed anyone can get much better this way in just 15 minutes per day.

A group of professional golf teachers heard that and said to him, “We’ll do that!” And he said, “No you won’t.”

Then he asked all of them who spend 15 minutes a day improving their health and fitness to raise a hand, and no one did.

He said, “If you won’t spend 15 minutes a day to make your life healthier and longer, you won’t spend 15 minutes on this.”

Not so fast. His statement assumes all people care more about life than they care about golf. Perhaps they should, but in the short term they don’t. Logically health is more important than golf, but no one said golfers are logical.

My point is this: people care about what they care about, and they invest in that. Do they want to be better at cooking or golf or piano or relationships or even their job? Do they want to be smarter? Yes, in varying degrees.

Why? Psychologists say we are conditioned from early age to be strivers, and we probably are.

My reason for trying to improve is a little different. I think I should use well the gifts I have been given. That means I have to be intentional about my gifts. Those include — and for you too — some degree of health and mental acuity. Our lists of gifts also include relationships. Those are truly amazing gifts.

How do we get better?

Here is the really cool thing about all of these gifts, if you are willing to accept my premise about them. You can find ways to improve several of them at the same time.

Efficiency is not always my strongest suit, and I know it, but I have discovered the joy and reward of what I call “feathering.”

Bald eagles have more than 7,000 feathers, and they are all used for something. Think of your gifts as feathers, all used for something important to you and others. Now think of one thing where many of those can be used at one time — like flying.

Here is how what I do can be like flying. When I play golf I can improve physically (exercise), mentally (it’s a tough game), spiritually (temptations, lots of prayer!), and relationally (other players). Some days one of those gets a little more attention than the others, but every feather is there.

Writing (for me) is feathering without the physical exercise, but it adds creativity. Church lacks the physical but emphasizes the spiritual. You get the idea.

But the real power in all of these is not that they happen together, the real power is that other people are involved. I get a little better because I’m doing something. I get a lot better because I’m with other people.

The very best self-help in every area of life comes from being with other people.

People are all around you.

When you read a self-help book, you are with the person who wrote it and learning from him or her.

That should be part of your intent when you have the opportunity to be with other people in any way. You are not trying to take something from them, you are not trying to force something on them, you are trying to help each other be better.

Much of the time that is unspoken. It just happens by being together.

My car is cleaner because of Bob. I write better lyrics because of Gary and Coellette and Oscar Hammerstein, who I never met. I pray better because of Dick and more boldly because of a man I met in business ministry in Chicago. Bill has pushed me to write for a long time and made me stronger. The list goes on, and I haven’t even mentioned the dozens of ways my wife has made me better.

My friend Mark often quotes Proverbs 13:20, which says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” That is wisdom from Solomon, but hearing Mark say it makes me better.

Self-help should be continual, but it is not a mystery. All you have to do is this: be with people, care about people, be willing to grow, desire the growth of those around you.

It is an amazing way to do good, and you can do it. It’s in you.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Mark Starley

    Thank you Lewis!
    Good stuff for today.

  2. Randy Wolff

    One of your best. As Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt in As Good As It Gets: “You make me want to be a better man.”

    1. Lewis Greer

      High praise indeed, Sir! Thank you, and thank you also for that great quote. Though I had forgotten it, when I read your comment I could see Jack saying that priceless line. Love it!

  3. Bob

    Lewis, thank you so much for this one.
    As Mark stated, really good stuff today

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