Personal Development Movement Missing the Mark

I got the call about the fire around 8: a.m. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the garbage-pile fire did not spread to a nearby building. Yet, the fact that the fire was allegedly started by an individual high on drugs was a slap-in-the-face reminder that the personal development movement is missing the mark by not addressing negative behavior.

Personal Development Movement Ignores Addiction

Most personal development gurus ignore addiction. They hold their high-dollar “live events” and scream how we’re all “awesome” and need to “crush it” and “live your dream”, but they offer little in the way of insight on navigating life in a really screwed up world. The majority of people work in settings anywhere from mildly to wildly dysfunctional. I’ve yet to find a book on leadership that tells you what to do when a meth-inspired arsonist starts a fire at your workplace.

We Are Missing the Boat

I’m a big believer in personal development. I’ve attended the seminars, read the books and generally drink the kool-aid. Yet, the overall teaching in personal development goes something like this. “We’re coaches, not counselors. We’re proactive, not reactive. We focus on the future, not the past.” That’s just peachy until you encounter an abusive co-worker or a family member who drinks too much. By not addressing the reality of evil, we are missing the boat. You can’t deal with bad behavior by saying “it doesn’t happen here” or “I’m not liiiiiiisteniiiiiiing.”

Deal With Our Own Problems

Here’s another reality about the personal development movement. While the big shots making the big bucks encourage their disciples to live their dream, many of their disciples come to the self-help seminars and conferences with considerable personal baggage. I’ve sat around the “live event” table with sexual abuse survivors, addicts in recovery and burned-out middle agers looking for a new start. Yet, our movement says precious little about how to deal with our own problems.

When I’m not blogging, trying to learn search engine optimization or getting queazy from yet another social marketing guru telling me how he or she went from $0-six figures in six months, I’m dealing with the highs and lows of life in a real world setting. You can’t escape reality through a click funnel.

Time to Face Reality

It’s time for the personal development movement to face reality. I’m not saying we should pull out the counseling couch and become something we’re not. I am saying that we should at least have the discussion on how to deal with the bad side of life. It’s great to offer hope for a better tomorrow through personal development. Such hope truly exists. It’s another thing to act as if we don’t struggle with bad stuff. Life is not one big latte-sipping pajama blog.

The guy who started our little dumpster fire at work was arrested and the charred debris has since been cleaned up. We’ve moved on at work and things are good. Yet, the fire serves as a reminder that we all deal with proverbial fires each week. I’m looking forward to a guru webinar on how to proceed when the you-know-what hits the fan and life knocks you down.

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