Written by Clifton Gachagua
Jane Bussmann probed the world of self –development. The guests, Beth Lisick, Ross Van Horn and Neil Shah, wanted to know if the audience understood what self-help means. Neil Shah: “What does self-help mean? What is personal development, this multi-billion dollar industry where people are trying to sell you training programs, books, CDs? What was your expectation of self-help and personal development before you walked into this tent? The better we understand that the better we are able to help you do something with that.”
The session was very interactive. There were different views all coming back to the realization of the individual and improving the self; make yourself be the best that you can be as an individual to achieve what you are capable of achieving; a journey through life, never accepting a status quo; taking incredible risks; a question of thinking outside the box; self-discovery and acceptance of the authentic YOU. If we are able to understand our passions and try to follow them instead of conforming to the pressures around us that don’t make us happy, then that’s the meaning of self-help.
One person from the audience nearly got killed climbing Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro because he wanted to challenge himself, to be a better person and drown out the voices that kept telling him that he could not do it.
Coach Ross Van Horn had this to say about self –development: “We have many stories inside us. There is no one trajectory that is right for all of us. I, for one, spent ten years in the fine arts before I moved into the self-help business. We have this idea that the best thing to do is make a bee line towards wealth and success and the perfect family, but I think there is a lot more going on and that there are different stories that we can choose to have in different phases in our lives. I focus on the relationships we have and developing quality relationships that help us move forward and also understanding that there is not just one story; there are many.”
If we ask ten different people what self-help is, we get ten different answers. So we cannot have a single answer that will solve all the ten problems. Neil Shay said: “if we look at the diet industry, for example, you’ve got the…low carb, low fat, low protein. If I create this new diet book and I say that this is the one that will help you all to loose weight, and I use it and loose weight, but Ross follows it and it doesn’t work out well for him, Beth follows it and it kills her… the point I’m making it that we are all unique. There isn’t a one size fits all solution. It’s important that you find your own path and your own way of doing things.
Beth was initially skeptical and cynical about interdependence and looking at people around her, she grew up thinking that it was not meant for her, that she was meant to do things on her own. People’s ideas around her concerning self-help were not the best, they mostly discouraged her. Not everyone will salute you for being such a maverick and trying to better your life. So we have to try and transcend above this; to find new supportive circles; to re-invent and reframe the way we look at friends and situations and the challenges they bring.
The process of helping others, as Neil Shah put it, begins with helping yourself first. Before you set out to change and influence your family, friends or partners you have to address your needs first, because that’s where it all begins.
One of the best perspectives from the audience was self-help as the idea of positive thinking and an abundance of mentality.
Up to what point can you consider yourself self-helped? Is it when you have amassed enough wealth and fit into a social definition of success and can finally sit on a throne and write your own book on how to succeed? Or is more of a personal victory over the small but monumental challenges of life? The questions we ask determine the directions our lives take.
Neil Shay said: “I hate the term self-help; I hate the term personal development; I despite the term guru with a passion. For me it’s about growth and growing. As far as I’m concerned if you are not growing you are dying. For me it’s about spiritual, mental, physical, emotional growth. It’s not a destination; it’s a journey, one that does not end, because when you die there are still tonnes that you haven’t done. It’s not possible to learn everything, but its just about learning how best to experience, how you can achieve your potential, how you can drive yourself towards your destiny, how you can contribute and add value to your families, societies, communities, and how you can fill fulfilled.”
Beth Lisick said that she bought 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People and sat alone at home reading it. The idea of interdependence and being proactive resonated with her. And this moment at home by herself was the most important at the time. The cost of self-help can be very prohibitive. There are seminars and workshops and numerous books to choose from, but you can do a lot more by yourself by reading one single book that resonates with you.
Knowledge is power, IF APPLIED, Neil insisted. There are people who have spent a lot of money on self-help programs but they are not where they intended to be.