Personal Development

Do you read self-help or personal development books?

Have you ever done so and tried to apply the lessons offered up by the author with, at best, mixed success?

Many people who are looking to upgrade aspects of their performance or improve their lives generally, turn to this type of work. The most appealing – and best-selling – are often those when the author has a story to tell about how he or she overcame the odds to achieve success. These stories are often compelling, inspiring and, yes, there can be valuable, actionable takeaways which are applicable to many seeking that upgraded performance or life.

However, the reality is that many of the avid buyers of numerous personal development works will maybe find some temporary or marginal improvements, but not the life changing shifts described by the authors.

One problem arises from the concept of survivorship bias. This is the logical error of concentrating our focus on people who succeeded through some challenge while overlooking those that did not because the latter are typically not visible.
To put it another way, the person who overcame the odds and ‘survived’ to succeed gets to write the best-selling book. The many who used the same approach and failed do not get the book deal. The consequence of this is that much of the body of personal development reading amounts to anecdotal evidence, some of which may be scalable to a wider readership, some of which may not.
 Indeed, some advice may be positively misconceived if the author simply enjoyed the benefit of specific circumstances or individual personality traits which allowed their actionable ‘takeaway’ to work when for most it will not.
Some works have tried to overcome this issue. For example, Brendon Burchard’s ‘High Performance Habits’ proceeds from research undertaken from data provided by high performers from which a number of key performance habits were isolated. In ‘The Art of Impossible’, Steven Kotler takes this further by utilising state-of-the-art neuroscience to harness our common neurobiological features to maximise ‘peak performance flow states’. This is a significant step forward and many of the approaches advocated here are of real value.
But, while this ‘mass data analysis’ (MDA) type approach overcomes the main issue arising from survivorship bias, it also gives rise to the opposite problem :it is  unable to address the issues any given individual may confront in implementing change. For example, procrastination and anxiety in confronting new situations and challenges are a reality but will vary from person to person . This can be an issue even for many of those who are highly motivated to change by implementing the recommended takeaways and can be a chronic problem.
So, yes, it may be possible through MDA to identify the most commonly occurring high performance traits and, yes, we have certain common features in our neurobiology which may be able to be skilfully harnessed towards executing these habits. But neuroscience also gives us the concept of neural pathways which are shaped individually by personal experience. This is one of the reasons why one person may find it easier to implement high performance habit A than the next person who may find it easier, instead, to implement high performance habit B than the first person.
Learnt behaviours are often stored in our subconscious mind from an early age and we know through modern psychological science that our subconscious, instinctive brain acts quickly and makes 95% of our decisions. In this light, in even the best data-driven personal development books, some of the advice directed at changes at a conscious level, will inevitably fall flat. This is precisely because the subconscious mind is so powerful and invariably trumps the decision-making process of the conscious mind. This is what is termed the ‘Law of Reversed Effect’.
 So, what is the solution?
As I have said, there is real value in utilising the works of Burchard and Kotler. This is in shaping an understanding based on data and biology, of what is likely to be a successful high-performance approach, rather than relying on anecdotes backed by a compelling backstory. But what those approaches need, is to be complemented by an approach which caters for the individual and the specific psychological traits – and subconscious  roadblocks – he or she may have. Hypnotherapy performs far better than coaching directed at the level of conscious logic in addressing these roadblocks.
This is where working on a one-to-one basis with a performance coach trained in hypnotherapy comes in. Individual roadblocks can be identified and removed based on the specific experiences, circumstances, and needs which you have, rather than assuming you are the same as every other reader of any given personal development book.
Book below for a call, at no cost to you, and find out how I can be of help to you.

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