Self-help overdose

I don’t like self-help books. They’re corny and full of undeniable truths (at least for the authors). I spent the last two weeks of 2013 reading five titles of this literature for beach holidays and mandatory seminars (at any non-connected company). Three were enjoyable, but the other two: Seth Godin’s The Icarus deception and Twyla Tharp`s The creative habit, not so much.

Godin’s book has a fantastic start. The message is compelling and powerful… and repeated ad nauseam. After page 60 the book is like a mantra: move from your “comfort zone”, there is no authority left, embrace doubt and fear, live with your “lizard”, the industrialists are dying, make art…

In The creative habit, Tharp provides interesting and practical recipes for taking the most from our “creative DNA” and focus on the “spine” (the motives) of our art. So far so good, but she’s always talking about how wonderful, competitive and successful she is. Good for her, but enough is enough.

However, I have to recognize that even when self-help books are not my favorite (I’m not an audience for Seth Godin’s “art”), they provide useful insights. From the perspective of a connected society, these are the thoughts that I’ll keep from both Godin and Tharp:

  1. Professional growth is more meaningful if it comes from the heart.
  2. It’s time to stop thinking in hierarchies and embrace communities.
  3. Implies hard, meaningful work.

This make perfect sense (at least for me) with what Jeff Fluhr, CEO and co-founder of Spreecast, says about recruiting talent in today’s companies: is not about finding the “right” candidates, but people with “the right chemistry, the right intellect, the right curiosity, the right creativity”, the rest is easy to figure. Godin would say that the world needs people with kamiwaza (or Kung-fu Panda’s awesomeness). I couldn’t agree more with this undeniable truth.

Godin, S. (2012). The Icarus deception: How high will you fly? New York, NY: Penguin

Tharp, T. (2003). The creative habit: Learn it and use it for life. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Fluhr, J. (2013, October 10).  Personal interview with Adam Bryant. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/11/business/jeff-fluhr-of-spreecast-on-finding-employees-who-fit.html

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