When I first discovered the literature of personal growth and development, there weren’t many titles to choose from. Today there are thousands. I always have a self-help book or two in my current reading pile because there’s so much to learn.

However, the self-help movement has spawned plenty of dropouts. Why don’t all readers find this genre helpful? Here are some thoughts on that.

° Refuse to abandon skepticism. Hanging onto cherished beliefs is a guaranteed way to prevent growth. “I tried that positive things stuff once. Didn’t work,” is the motto of the self-help dropout. Simply reading a single book is not going to produce visible change. It’s more a process of chipping away at limiting thoughts and behaviors that have taken hold over years.

° Exercises are too much trouble. Most of us think of reading as zooming from the beginning to the end of a book. Self-help books invite us to slow down and take a low-speed journey. Exercises are like rest stops along the way, causing us to pause, reflect and apply.

° Wrong book at the wrong time. Personal growth is an evolutionary process and we expand our receptiveness one concept at a time. Sometimes a book arrives ahead of our readiness. When that happens, don’t abandon self-help. Try a different book.

° Don’t have a laboratory to experiment. You’ve got to have context. If you are in a position to try out new ideas and assess the results, you’ll start synthesizing healthier attitudes and behaviors more quickly. That’s one of the secret rewards of self-employment. Running our own business not only requires a high level of self-awareness, but also a commitment to on-going growth and improvement. Best of all, we can try out our new ideas every single day.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau