Why This Success Guru Is Just Plain Wrong

I read a lot.

It all began when I was a teenager and read a short book, Your Greatest Power.

That began my quest to better understand myself, to gain insight into human behavior, happiness and yes, “success.”

Today I read an article by a prolific writer who deals with these topics.

He has a Ph.D. in the field of human behavior and I’ve read many of his articles and value his insight on motivation, goal achievement and success.

I’m not going to tell you who he is because t I’m going to share something he wrote that hurts a lot of people.

He is spot on about many things and he’s been uber successful in what he does professionally–but he’s just plain wrong about what he wrote here:

“Most people aren’t successful because they are lazy. Specifically, they want other people to help them, but they don’t really want to help other people.”

In twenty-five years, first as a therapist, and as a coach for the last decade, my experience working with people has led me to this conclusion:

We need to stop shaming people into doing better. We need to quit guilting people into doing better.

Telling someone they’re lazy is counter-productive.

What’s more, that viewpoint completely misses what’s going on with any person we think is “lazy.”

My work with hundreds of people and my work with teams of people in organizations tells me that “lazy” people:

  • Haven’t discovered their talents and passion(s)
  • Haven’t discovered the right place to invest their talent or passion
  • Are so discouraged they’ve just given up
  • Need more support and they haven’t found it yet
  • Have failed so much, it’s all they can do to just “hang on”

Instead of shaming people, we can beleive in them and inspire them.

Think about these two quotes:

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be. ” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(I’m not leaving women out–just quoting the source as it was written long ago!)

If we tell someone they’re lazy, they will shut down.

That kind of criticism and judgment doesn’t motivate or inspire anyone.

Believing in someone and supporting them offers hope, inspiration and enables them to better motivate themselves.

I’m all for challenging someone in a helpful way.

But I’m against shaming someone in our attempts to help them.

Here’s my coaching tip for you (and me) today:

Instead of judging and criticizing self, learn to empathize (not sympathize) and understand yourself on deeper levels.

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and support yourself from that perspective.

Believe that you want to be more motivated, to grow and to thrive.

Keep looking for and practicing the things that will grow your sense of self-worth, self-confidence and your capacity to take action and experiment with what works for you and with what doesn’t work for you.

Respect yourself now, honor yourself now, support yourself now.

Don’t wait until you achieve something or change something.

Learn to be happier with who you are now and with what you’ve achieved already.

Instead of minimizing who you are now and what you’ve achieved already, nurture your respect and admiration for both and see what happens.

A roaring fire starts with small kindling and it’s ignited with just a spark.

Thinking, “I’m just lazy” or “I’m just not disciplined enough to succeed” doesn’t fan the flame–it sucks the oxygen out of the fire.

Self-worth and self-confidence are like oxygen to our emotional and spiritual fire.

Pour more of both on the fire and it will grow into a roaring fire.







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