Do you feel that the personal development industry has failed you?
Have you been filled with a desire to lose weight, make a million dollars, or any other goal that can be easily solved (so I am told) by buying a book out of the self-help section of your local bookseller. Have you then been let down when that desire has not been fulfilled?
Are you then told that you failed because you weren’t visualizing hard enough, didn’t have the right attitude, or you didn’t hustle enough?
I have realized that most companies and people that sell personal development products and services have one problem that causes most people to fail.
My “light bulb” moment happened when I saw the Facebook status update from one of my speaking coaches, Craig Valentine:
Most personal development experts would say that the people that stopped going to the gym failed at accomplishing their New Years goals of getting healthy or losing weight because they lacked the will power, didn’t schedule it, or any other reason that puts the problem on the back of the person who failed to accomplish their goal.
Those personal development experts are wrong, and it leads us to the number one problem with the personal development industry:
The personal development industry puts the product before the process.
The Effect of Putting the Product before the Process
Take the gym as an example. Come January 1st, the gym is packed with people that want to get into shape. They have been sold on the fact that they need to stay healthy and the best way to do that is by going to the gym. So they go, they workout, and everything goes well for the first few weeks.
They lose some weight, they have more energy, and they might have made some new friends. Then it happens. They get busy, they lose interest, or they get sticker shock when they get their first bill. People stop going, cancel their membership, and go back to their pre-January routine. Then ten and a half months later the cycle repeats itself.
What does the gym do?
The same thing they did last year, convince people that they need to work out to get fit, give them a great rate, and watch them drop like flies after the first month. I am guessing that the owners of the gyms say the same thing, “I guess they didn’t really want to get in shape.” In thinking that way, the gym owners put the product before the process.
When you are putting the product before the process, you are putting the self interest of the person selling the product ahead of the person using the product. Since it has worked for you and maybe a few other people, you assume that it is everyone’s best interest to do what you do in order to accomplish your goals.
The problem is that accomplishing a goal isn’t about you or your product. It is about the person who has a goal that they want to keep.
Let’s use the gym as an example and a theoretical character, Bob:
Bob wants to get in shape for the New Year, so he takes advantage of an offer he is given by a nearby gym. He gets some new shoes, some new workout gear, and hits the gym after work on the 2nd. The first few days seem to go OK. It is busy, but he is getting a workout in and is starting to feel like he is making a difference.
After a few weeks, Bob is getting tired of having to deal with the traffic on his way to the gym. Now that the holidays are over, work is piling up again and he is leaving for the gym later and later. It is in the opposite direction of his house, and by the time he gets home, he is tired, cranky, and doesn’t feel like it is worth it anymore with all of the work that is piling up at work and at home.
Those daily workouts have become once or twice a week, and then by the time spring sports start for Bob’s children, he thinks about going to the gym every time he sees the membership on his key ring. Come April, the membership is cancelled and Bob is back to his normal pre-gym routine.
You could say that it is Bob’s fault that he doesn’t make time, but that is still putting your needs before Bob. I believe that the problems we encounter are far more systemic that many solutions presented can fix with a low monthly membership fee.
The problem is not necessarily with working out. Maybe the real problem is that the only time that Bob has available to work out doesn’t work with a natural time for him to work out because of work and family obligations. It could also be that the atmosphere of the gym focuses on people that are much farther along than Bob, so he doesn’t feel comfortable working out there. Whatever the case, the person selling Bob the product has put the product before Bob.
How can we help Bob and others like him?
Put the process for helping people before the product.
Stop focusing so much on the product and focus on the individual. Bob’s real problem might not be working out. The real problem is his job and other obligations. Find out when and where Bob needs to workout to succeed and focus on helping him work out at those times and places.
Individuals are not broken when they come to you. They just might need some help figuring out where your product or service can help them. Help them find that, put their needs before the need to sell them a product, and you can help them and you be more successful.
Stop telling people they are broken, and start fixing the process.
P.S. I am coming back strong. Get ready.
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