This photo is from the opening pages of Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. It came out in 2003. I found it while browsing the self-help aisle in a bookstore in Logan Valley Mall in Altoona, PA while in college (that’s how I found my books before the internet blew up). Arden wrote another book, called Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite a couple years later. He died in 2008.
I still grab Paul’s books and re-read them at least once a year. They’re only available in physical format.
A lot of what Arden writes in these books influenced me. You can hear traces of his stuff in my writing or videos or podcasts. And it wasn’t so much that what he says in these is brand new information.
Arden’s works are inspirational self-help books, and if I had to explain self-help in one word,
I’d choose Focus.
Self-help is not designed to teach you a bunch of new things — it’s designed to direct your focus to things you may have thought of in the past, or even stuff which you know very well, and rejigger your perspective by bringing those ideas to the forefront of your conscious thoughts. Being that such elements are intangible and don’t have a direct, look-at-this payoff, their value is often overlooked.
I browsed the reviews of Arden’s book and confirmed this. Some complained that the content is “too basic,” that the book is not long enough, that they’re “just quotes — you’re better off going on Pinterest,” that you could “sit in a bookstore and read the whole book instead of buying it.”
I have nothing to gain or lose from how anyone feels about Mr. Arden’s books. But the this knowledge isn’t new enough / deep enough idea concerns me.
Some people already understand.
Some people will learn one day.
The rest, never will.
For Your Game
- I’ve many times had someone opine that what I’d shared somewhere was something that they already knew (which is always true — afteryou read, listen to or watch it). I’ve explained this on the Work On Your Game Podcast: Knowing something has no value. Zero. If you’ve gone to school and graduated, you have 12-16 (or more) years of knowing things under your belt — has anyone paid you money for it? No. If you were tasked with writing down everything you know — literally everything — it’d be the longest book ever written. How much of this knowledge do you consciously think about and/or use on a daily basis? This is where the humans only use 10% of their brains saying comes from. It’s not that we don’t use it; it’s that we don’t have the time or energy to access all of it.
- People pay for what you do with what you know. Knowing things is like practicing basketball: A means to an end, that some people seem to continue as if it is the end in itself. You practice your basketball skills so you can perform well in the games— not just to say that you practiced. You learn things so you can apply the knowledge and produce meaningful, worthwhile results. The stuff you know which you haven’t used to produce a result is living rent-free in your mind, taking up space and sleeping on your couch.
- As much as people and technology have advanced, I also see people regressing in some ways. Where people used to organize and demonstrate in order to enact lasting changes, now we get a hashtag trending, form a social media mob, and… move on to the next outrage three days later. Whereas I shared how I was practicing basketball as a means to be ready for my next playing situation, now the practicing itself is the endgame for some empty-gym athletes. The knowing, practicing and feeling are not the goals. The goal is the production which comes from them.
What do you know that you really need to begin using? What’s the holdup? Reply and let me know.