This Article Is Dead – Awaken It from Death

Personal Development
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How many blog articles have you read today? How many this week? How many personal development articles or books? How many of those articles had information in it that could benefit your life or even change it on a big scale?

Now comes the big question: What have you done with that information?

Let me guess (and I am not mean, because I am guilty of this too) – for most articles, slim to none.

How come? Are we all stupid or brain dead? If you’d agree that doing some of the things that all these authors suggest would change your life for the better, how come you (and we all) not do it.

That is a frustrating question. Especially for authors.

Most Books, Articles Are Not Read

Do you know that the vast majority of self help books (some statistics say about 95%) will never get read beyond the first chapter. That’s amazing and frightening. And I don’t think that this is much better with blogging in general and personal development blogging especially. 95% of the people will buy books, tapes, videos or go and subscribe to a blog (or only read some articles) and won’t use the information.

It means that the real target group for any author in the personal development field are people who won’t do anything with the information. This fact annoys me a lot.

I want people to change. I want people to use the information I have, and use it to change their lives for the better. Now I should be happy with people not following through (and still coming back), for they may make up the majority of my readers and if I would make some money from it via books, tapes, videos, courses, etc. I could make a fortune from people listening to my ideas, getting a comfy feeling from it, and then going back to their old lives and not changing anything.

But I don’t like that idea. What could I do? Well, you tell me. But besides changing the structure of information and making it easier accessible (which will happen soon – watch out) – my influence on your willingness and commitment to change – is slim.

Information Without Action Is Dead

Believe me, that doesn’t feel good for me. Pretty powerless, right? But I guess, that is something every author has to face. Once I’ve pinned down the words, there is nearly nothing I can do to direct the way you use it.

I spit out the words, and there they are, right in front of you – dead. Like the clay from which we were made according to the bible. I don’t take this theory literally, but it is a great analogy. There you have the dead matter of words (printed or on a blog) lying in front of you. Yes there is an idea hidden in it. But this is just potential. Potential that needs a vital force to turn it into life. Like God used breath to pour life into that clay, YOU need to breathe life into these words.

How Can You Awaken the Information from Death?

How can you breathe life into these words (or any good advice you read)?

You commit to do something with it.

All words are dead, unless you do something with it. All words are useless, unless they make you do something. All advice is useless, unless you use it. You see useless means also you use it less than it deserves. Maybe the quality of information is bad, but maybe (and very often) your quality of focus is bad. We are a generation of skimmers and collectors. We don’t use information anymore, we scan it and collect it – but we don’t apply it. Does that sound familiar? I could raise my hand, because I was (and still am sometimes) guilty of that too.

I would even suggest you start reading less and start doing more.

You don’t need to read 100 books on personal development, fitness, finances or whatever. This is just your fear of not doing it right. You know what – any doing is better than not doing at all. Even the poorest financial plan is better than no financial plan. Even the smallest savings account is better than no savings at all. Even the smallest effort of changing your diet or starting to exercise is better than doing nothing at all.

Start early and adopt to the needs as they arrive.

  • For every article that you read, ask yourself: “What could I do today or this week with this information that could be beneficial to my life?”
  • And don’t just think it – ink it. Write it down.
  • Commit to do something with the information. If there are steps described you should take, take them. Do the things that 95% of the readers won’t do.
  • And do it now, don’t wait, or the small particle of life you had put into the article will soon vanish, and you won’t remember doing something with it.

Be an exception. Be a creator. Breathe life into the dead words and awaken them from death, so they come to life for you.

AMEN.

P.S. I am about to create a new series of articles, that have a much more pro-active format. They will be shorter and much more focused on solving one specific problem by you following specific steps. Look out and subscribe to stay tuned for this.

P.P.S. Oh and if you just skipped over this article and had not done anything with it, then I still want you to subscribe to my blog and buy any books and articles I will come up with, so that you at least can join the 95% of people to pay me for giving useless advice to them. I still appreciate the money, but at least I’ve been honest and gave you a warning.

16 comments… add one
  • Excellent article, Patrick, one of your best ever.

    I totally agree with you and I just wish more people were to read our words and apply them. Most self development books simply end up developing on their book shelves!

    I think you highlighed a couple of key reasons – people are scared to get started and they want to get it perfect. They don’t even read the books that will help them get started and overcome their perfectionism.

    On that note, I shall go off and check out what unread books are on my book shelf. I shall either decide to read them, not to read them and will pass them on to someone else to showcase on their book shelf:-)

    Maybe people are just saturated with personal development stuff – they just need to read some books on how to get a life!

  • Great article – right to the point. My take on this is has to do with the concept of readiness. I have seen that when people are ready and willing, they change. You have to want to change more than you want to stay the same. Personal development articles, books, etc. can take you to the doorway, but people walk through because they want to. And from having a psychotherapy practice for years, I’ve learned not to be attached to other people’s outcomes. I do my best to offer what I offer from my heart, to want the best for people, then what happens from there is not something I can control.

    • Patrick

      @Gail: You are right, my (and every authors or consultants) choice is to offer something and then detach from whether and how it is used. And I am fine with that. But I’ve noticed within myself as well as many others a tendency to use reading about personal development as an excuse to changing. We are constantly looking for the optimal strategy before we get going. And so we might be reading, reading, reading 100 books, articles or more, when all it would take is apply the advice of the first one or two books or articles.

  • Edgar

    Some times knowingthe strategy does not mean we should implement them. it’s all about timing. i love you man, but you should also take in consideration the constraints of timing, distance and proportion

    • Patrick

      @Edgar: I don’t mean you should only do personal development and I am well aware of constraints implied by time, distance and proportion. Sometimes you aren’t ready to do something. But I know from my own experience that reading too much about Personal Development could easily be an escape from changing all by itself. It is not about putting 24 hours into it, but I could do a little step to get me going. I don’t mean to do everything that is written in all articles. But asking yourself what have you done from the last 10 books or articles you read about Personal Development is sometimes a tough question.

  • I think you nailed it, when you said read less, do more. Probably we are reading too much, so much our attention dilutes.

    • Patrick

      @Miguel de Luis: Yes diluting our attention to too much bits of information. Maybe I would call it the minimalist way to Personal Development. Read less – apply more. That’s all.

  • How is this for a standard? Never move to a new book or article until you have acted in some way on the last one.

  • That’s a good point about action. It’s easy to think that the next seminar or the next book or the next whatever is going to push you over the edge to change for the better.

    Like Edgar alluded to, there have plenty of books I’ve read without taking action on the information until a year or two later, when the timing was better. But I’d agree that that’s not the best strategy. Perhaps I shouldn’t bother with the information until I’m at a point where I’m ready, willing, and able to incorporate it?

  • Patrick

    @Justin – alittlebetter.net: That is excellent advice, although I am not sure, whether I could even do it 100% of the time. But that is the direction to go.

    @Justin: If you know or feel that the time is not right yet, don’t worry about it. Either schedule a better time, to review and then act on it. Or just put it with a mark back on the shelf and make a note, what you might act on when you have time.

    I couldn’t do most of the things that I read about due to timing or other priorities, but I could DECIDE, what I can and will do today, what I can and will schedule for another day and what isn’t worth my focus now (it might be later).

    But saying to yourself “I should really act on it” and then not doing anything is the weakest strategy of them all. Respect your time and energy – and then decide what to do.

    Stay in control – decision is key.

  • Edgar

    your articles are gold, bro. they have captured my attention. i didn’t mean any disrespect. i guess in my case you hit a nerve. a year ago, i took antidepressants. they altered me. they suspended my morality. they put me in situations that would repulse me if i wasn’t under its influence. i have put into action the majority of information gathered on your blog. it’s because of it that i’m rediscovering the man i was. i’m very proud to be learning from a great man like yourself.

    • Patrick

      @Edgar: Glad that you are back on the way towards yourself. I wasn’t offended by your words, and it is understandable that my words could sometimes hit a nerve. Since I have a medical background, I know of the emotional and mental implications that antidepressants could have on a person. They can be needed for certain short time phases, but it is best, when you are able to overcome them, before they become more of a problem than a help. So whenever there is something else that might hit a nerve here – bring it up, since I believe that sometimes a good debate can be really helpful for any kind of relation.

      Thanks for your kind words – I hope you will get even more from future articles.

  • I’m glad you have written about this, it’s reminiscent of what I was before. It took me time before I realize my foolishness. I’m pretty much guilty about reading a book and get stuck at chapter one, but when real challenges came upon, I was nudged into the reality that growth is a necessity of life. 🙂

    • Patrick

      @Walter: Most of us (including myself) have fallen to that trap several times – and yes reality brings you back to learning the basics.

  • Patrick, This post strikes such a chord. I’ve given speeches to inspire change and blogged and served as a living example of someone not young and with a serious chronic health condition, but thriving in my work, my health, and my relationships. But I struggle with the questions you raise. Much of what I talk and write about are simple things, like eating healthful foods and exercising. I see these not as burdensome chores but as positive and enjoyable things to do. I want to help people change, so I’m looking forward to your focused pro-active series.

    .-= Madeleine´s last blog ..The Right Stuff Awards =-.

    • Patrick

      @Madeleine: We are so often so lofty in our perspective, that we interpret the everyday life as a burden. Yet it is from these small things (exercising, eating healthy food, creating a positive outlook, etc.) that all the great happens from.

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