With growing concern I’ve noticed more and more hard-working and talented people are getting duped into the great “super-learning” hoax.
Being told the thing that will change our lives is reading more books, consuming more courses and passively absorbing the ideas of others. That somewhere out there … is the key to your success if only you could find it.
To be fair, I can see why so many people believe this.
For a long time self-help gurus and YouTube creators have cherry picked the lowest fruit, the visible behaviours of the world’s most successful people and proclaimed “Look over here, these are the 10 habits all successful people do.”
And they focus on the WORDS of wildly successful people like…
"I spend a lot of time reading."
- Bill Gates
"I just sit in my office and read all day."
- Warren Buffet
"I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can.
They sell themselves short without trying."
- Elon Musk
Leading people to (mistakenly) conclude that reading is the key skill to these super successful people’s success. When reading is a tiny fraction of the real story.
Reading is just the INPUT side of the equation. What really played a critical role in their success, as Charlie Munger puts it is “becoming a learning machine.”
And so there are many blog posts, YouTube videos, and podcasts episodes on highlighting these visible things.
That’s why tens and thousands of new books and courses are published each year with the promise to teach you a new skill -- whether it’s on coaching, selling, dating, or parenting.
There’s a big market for that. (Last time I checked, it was in the Billions).
A market that profits from teaching you…
...how to present like Steve Jobs.
...how to invest like Warren Buffett.
...how to build companies like Elon Musk.
...how to sing like Beyonce (as if that’s possible!)
Which begs the question...
And, worst of all:
Why do these lifelong learners start to doubt themselves despite investing more time, money, and energy into themselves compared to almost anyone they know?
I don’t know about you…
...but I found myself asking this question a lot.
I started searching for answers.
And I was NOT satisfied with commonly accepted answers like “It’s the knowing vs. doing gap.”
Yes there is always going to be a knowing vs doing gap, but that alone isn’t enough to explain what is going on.
So I dug deeper and deeper. I started looking at popular culture, documentaries like Fyre, We Crashed and my personal favourite at the moment:
Hit TV Show:
As I was watching The Drop-Out on Hulu, I couldn’t help but think:
“This is very much like whole sections of the personal development industry today.”
If you haven’t seen ‘The Drop Out’, it’s the story of Elizabeth Homes who promised the world a medical revolution. At 19 she claimed to invented a miniaturised machine that with a single drop of blood could diagnose your health problems. She boasted serious health problems like cancer could be prevented before they ever happen. And went on to build a company worth $4.5 BILLION on that perception.
Only problem was, the whole thing was built on a BIG LIE. Her famous machine couldn’t do a fraction of what she promised.
The two pictures above capture accurately what happens when people can’t see the gap between a finely crafted perception and the actual reality of what is really going on…
Unfortunately, this huge mismatch between perceptions and actual reality has a LOT in common with what’s happening in the “personal development” industry today.
Acquiring customers has become more important than serving them.
Just think about it:
There are internet marketers out there who are proud of teaching other people “the art of selling an ideal future (aka. “their upcoming course”) even BEFORE creating the outline of the course.
They don’t care whether the course will deliver or not.
They just teach others how to market a course.
And here’s where the big problem starts...
Without having that “X-Ray vision” built-in…
Most success-oriented people follow the advice of greats like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey or Warren Buffet on the importance of reading and learning…
...and still find themselves living in a loop…
...going around and around…
...repeating the same old unworkable behaviours…
...hoping for different outcomes in their personal and business lives.
They find themselves continuously dreaming a better future... for themselves... and for their families.
A future that they want... but don’t have… feeling incredibly stuck.
Over time, the drip-drop of continuously wanting but not having...
...of trying but not succeeding
...of aspiring, yet time and time again, never truly achieving their expectations or what they are capable of...
...begins to eat into their confidence.
And it affects how others begin to see them.