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Something Better than Reading Self-Help Books

This 9-month-old baby boy is getting ready to walk for the first time. He gets up and is able to balance himself after a few moments. He looks just ahead and sees his parents a couple of meters away. They're looking on proudly, prompting him to move forward.

The baby takes one wobbly step forward and his mom squeals with excitement. He takes another wobbly but successful step, and his dad fist pumps the air proudly. Then he takes the third step, wobbles for a little bit but quickly falls over.

The parents rush over to check on their child ensuring there are no scratches or bruises on him. But the baby shoos his parents away, gets his reading glasses out, and opens a book on 'How to walk within 30 days for babies.'

I know this story sounds silly. Why would a baby read a book on walking? First of all, babies can't read. But most importantly, babies learn to walk perfectly by making consistent attempts every day.

Yet, when it comes to our lives, we think we can learn and achieve our goals by reading some self-help books, instead of actually making consistent attempts.

Don't get me wrong, reading self-help books is nice.

The author went out of his or her way to consolidate their hard-earned information into a neatly packaged book. And us lucky readers can get the same amount of wisdom with less effort.

Yet, it's not exactly like that.

The author has put their knowledge down on paper, but it's still not the same type of knowledge for the readers. The author has made countless attempts in trying to gain their knowledge. And as a result, he/she understands the countless ways that lead to failure in their particular field. This leads to a much more nuanced understanding of the knowledge they have written. But for the readers, they don't get to experience the same amount of mistakes and failures. Therefore leaving them with only a hallow understanding. And no matter how many books are read, it's hard to get the same nuanced knowledge of the authors.

That being said, we shouldn't be discouraged.

Because we can get a deeper understanding of whatever field our goals are in. We just have to toss the books and focus on making consistent attempts every day. I know this sounds like a lot of work, because it is.

If you want to get better at reaching your goals, whether it be in business, fitness, dating, social life, etc. You need to prioritize daily attempts. Mind you, it's going to feel very tough at first. But after a little while, it gets easier. And the more you commit to making these daily attempts, the sooner you will be able to find success in reaching your goals.

Then with more consistent attempts, your success starts becoming a little easier.

You are making fewer mistakes because you see the nuisances of why you failed in the past and what needs to be done.

Yet, if you tried reading your way to success, it would rarely be the same.

In dating, I've seen guys read countless books and still have a lackluster dating life. On the other side, I have seen guys with similar merits, not read any books, but focus on just being a social individual, leading to numerous dating opportunities.

Making serious attempts at your goals every day will give you a lot more than any self-help book on the market. You just have to be willing to make the effort consistently.

But how often should I be making consistent attempts?

Besides making daily attempts, you want something a little more tangible. Like how many attempts should be made in a day? Well, one principle I learned from a coworker who learned it from a random podcaster is 'The Lay 5 Bricks' Principle.

'The Lay 5 Bricks' Principle is all about making 5 small attempts every day.

For being more social, making eye contact with a stranger is one brick, smiling at a stranger is another brick, and so on until you have your 5 bricks for the day.

What makes this principle so amazing, despite the fact that it's so simple. Is that you slowly get more accustomed to more complicated attempts. Sticking with the example of being more social. You eventually move up to having small talk with a stranger count as a brick or getting the number of a stranger for coffee as another brick, etc.

By being consistent with the small attempts, you naturally grow into the person who can make bolder attempts. So there you have it, lay 5 bricks in whatever goal you are trying to pursue.

Now some of you are thinking that your specific goal is not feasible with making consistent attempts.

But personally, I think it's possible.

You just have to ask yourself "What is the smallest thing I can do on a daily basis?" If you are trying to be a writer, you can write for 25 minutes per day, splitting it up into 5 min segments if you would like. Or if you are trying to get fit, you can focus on daily stretching or going for daily walks etc.

Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure you can make a small attempt at getting closer to your goal. Because if you think you can't, then you need to ask yourself if you really want to achieve this goal.

Life is incredibly simple and it's all about starting small.

Like a baby walking, one step at a time until it's waking all over the house. You can do the same, so don't create excuses.

Now, I know I can sound like an old man preaching random nonsense.

So to give this article a little more legitimacy, I'm going to show you some great thinkers who believed in consistent attempts, action, or whatever you want to call it, being great for the individual.

Publius Syrus, an Ancient Roman Poet, has the following sayings on taking action (aka making attempts):

  • Practice is the best of all instructors.

  • Fortune has no more power over our destiny than our own actions.

  • To be deprived of all capacity for action, is to be at once alive and dead.

  • He who hesitates to take the right course, deliberates to no purpose.

  • Okay, that's enough of the ancients. Let's look at something a little more modern.

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People:

  • Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

Jordan Peterson, Author of 12 Rules for Life:

  • Truth is discovered in action.

Alright, before I get too philosophical, I hope you are getting my point.

Making consistent attempts, taking actions, moving forward, etc. Doesn't matter how you slice it, you just need to be active in reaching your goals and not just reading about it. The truth is discovered in those tiny bricks you lay every day.

And over time, you are going to have built a mansion for your goals.

So crazy ol' Uncle Bulcha is saying to never read self-help content. first.

When you are new at something, it's easy to be caught up in the self-help book and think you need to be perfect in understanding the book before making an attempt. And if we're being honest, there is never the time we feel we have a perfect understanding of anything.

So to remove any simple obstacles that will delay our attempts.

We can just toss the book aside and go learn head-on. Like I said before, it's going to be tough at first, but it will get easier over time.

Keep making those attempts until you get some fluency.

And then at this point, you can consider reading a book to help you. A book at this stage would be more fruitful as you have experience from all your attempts. You can read this book and relate to aspects of it. You will also quickly see which areas you will need help in. But to make the most of the book, you have to go back to making more attempts with your newfound knowledge.

Then after some more fluency with the adjustments, you can read the same book or a new book (but preferably the same book again), for new insights and nuances.

Books can help, but only if you are willing to show up and do a little bit of work every day.

Now, I know that there are going be some people who are not convinced.

But perhaps I am not explaining myself clearly. Let's put it another way. Say you go back in time and are 6 years old. One of your parents just got you a bike with training wheels. You hop on and are riding the bike like a pro. After some time, your parents feel it's time to take the training wheels off.

So they take them off and get you to ride the bike.

It's scary, the safety of the training wheels is no longer there. You have to balance the bike on your own and ride it. However, you make one attempt, ride a few meters, and fall. You get up, make another attempt, ride 10 meters but have poor control, and crash into a tree. You dust yourself off, make another attempt, ride 10 meters, now 15, now 20, and you're off riding your bike without falling.

And to this day, you are able to ride a bike easily.

Your parents didn't read you a book on how to ride your bike within 30 days. They didn't listen to a guru on how to get their kids to ride a bike. Instead, you made consistent attempts at riding your bike with no training wheels. Even though it was hard at first, you were able to get a hang of it and be successful.

I can bring up countless examples and I'm sure you can think of similar examples in your life where you didn't need a book to achieve something. You can achieve so much in life by making consistent attempts.

Mind you, you can always read a self-help book, but make sure that consistent action is in place before reading a single page.

Now what was I blabbing in this article again:

  • Consistent attempts will give you a deeper understanding than reading a self-help book on the same topic.

  • If possible, follow 'The Lay 5 Bricks' Principle for your daily attempts.

  • No matter the goal, you can make a small daily attempt at getting closer to it.

  • Thinkers from the ancient and modern world valued taking action in life.

  • Only read self-help books after you have committed to daily attempts after some time.

  • Reaching your goal is like riding a bike. You don't need to read about it, you just need to make consistent attempts at it.

  • Now I know this article is quite long in explaining my point. It's just that I want you to understand that you can do so much more by making attempts than reading.

And if that silly baby had some sense, he would toss that book he was reading and make another attempt at walking to his parents.


The Charismatic Nerd

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