I have mentioned before that blanket statements are not a good thing and that one size does not fit all. For those of you who get discouraged because every time you read someone’s supposedly helpful post you realize it just isn’t going to work for you: this one’s for you.
There are so many people out there who say they want to help you. And unlike my previous rant about those who don’t even try in their articles and blog posts to do so, there are those who ARE really attempting to give you useful information. They’re trying to share what they know or what they’ve learned to help you with things like time management, or getting organized or being productive or losing weight or getting fit. But you’re just becoming more and more discouraged because no matter how many of these helpful articles and posts you read, nothing works for you. Maybe, for whatever reason, you simply can’t try the thing they’re suggesting. Or maybe it’s because they say “This is what you need to do” but don’t then share with you ways in which you could actually do it. Perhaps even they don’t understand how they do “the thing” and therefore couldn’t teach you even if their life depended on it. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.
This is a common mistake that helpful folks make which often leads to what I think is my biggest pet peeve: blanket statements. Saying something like, “All a person has to do is <this xyz thing> to be a confident, successful, productive person” is like saying “All people can run marathons, they just have to train.” Guess what? That’s not true. I have such flat feet they’re nearly inverted. I tried training for a 10k, my first ever, after losing 150 pounds. I discovered after running my first 5k and then my second, that my knees were practically exploding (as in, swelling to 2 or 3 times their normal size). I went to a sports medicine doctor and it turns out not every single human being is physically built for, or capable of, running long distance (never mind sprints). I can train until I’m the most fit person on the planet, but that does not mean I’ll successfully be able to run a 5k, 10k or full marathon, and both the sports expert physician and my physical therapists have confirmed that.
Similarly, just because a guru, life coach or successful person shares the secrets of their success with you does not mean their secrets will work for you. I can give you three examples of this right off the top of my head.
- Get up earlier in the morning. While I agree wholeheartedly that getting up earlier in the morning means you can get lots done while others are still unconscious, it’s actually not always possible for human beings to be early risers simply because we’re not all wired the same way. You’ve heard of “morning people” vs. “night owls,” I presume. Well, there is scientific research to back up the fact that not everyone can blink awake at 4am or 5am and be instantaneously “on” like I am. You can check out this one of a plethora of articles you can find via Google Search. So if you are someone who has tried and simply cannot be “a morning person,” then don’t despair. Not only are you not alone, but you aren’t a failure just because you have been unsuccessful with this.
- Do the thing you are most dreading or “hate” the most, first. Once again, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept. I know that personally if there are five things I need to do and I really, really hate one of them (think: clean the bathroom), it’s best if I just do that thing first and then whew, it’s off my plate and I’m no longer dreading it. But let’s face facts here: not everyone can just do “the thing” first for a variety of reasons. What if it’s a phone call you’re absolutely petrified to make (perhaps calling up an ex-spouse with whom you parted on less-than-kind terms) but the person you need to call isn’t available until the early hours of the afternoon? Does that mean you’re going to do nothing at all until 1pm? Hardly. How about if your “most dreaded thing” is having your in-laws over for Christmas dinner? You can’t “do that first,” it has to be done on Christmas Day (or Eve, or whenever you do that). One thing helpful gurus often forget is that not everyone’s lives are the same as theirs. Not everyone can do precisely what everyone else does, precisely when they do it. So if you have tried suggestions like this and failed because it doesn’t fit your life, YOU ARE NOT ALONE (you’re going to hear that from me a lot over time) and YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE because you can’t/couldn’t/didn’t (another thing that’ll start becoming common fare out of my mouth. Er…fingers).
- Say No to time wasters/stealers. Hey, I tout this one myself. The most fierce guardian of your time has to be you because it isn’t going to be anyone else. Nobody in the world cares about your time as much as you do. But odds are you can’t actually say no to absolutely everyone in your life. If you are an Administrative Assistant with four VPs you support, you can’t march into a VP’s office and refuse to do the work they just emailed you to do. Not unless you want to risk losing your job. I’m more interested in offering other practical things you might be able to try if saying no isn’t an option for you, but oftentimes gurus will tell you things like, well, if you’re not saying no then that means you don’t want it badly enough. Um…excuse me??? For whatever reason, if the Admin wants to keep their job, who am I to tell them they’re failing? I’m not helping you if I tell you that unless you do “These 10 Things” you are a loser. I am helping you if I say, “The best thing to do is say no. If you can’t, try these other things on for size.” Maybe one of them will be helpful and useful. The point is I tried to help, not condemn you for not doing one thing.
Hopefully you see what I mean now after these examples. All things do not work for all people, just like vegetarianism may be awesome for some folks while others biologically cannot handle eating that kind of diet. Just like not everyone is overweight because they eat too much (a common misconception, especially among those who’ve never had a weight problem in their life). Just like not everyone can simply walk out of their job when it becomes too stressful. Well, I mean, sure, they could, but the consequences might be so horrendous that they feel it’s better to stay in the unhappy job than walk out and risk things like losing their home, being unable to feed their children and so on.
I like using Jeff Foxworthy’s methods (although not his content, lol, because only he can be that funny) as follows: If you are unable to put into practice every self help method you read, you might be a human being!
Bottom line: There is nothing wrong with you if you are unable to do all the things that all the gurus/experts tell you that “you should.” There is something wrong with gurus/experts telling you there is something wrong with you because you can’t. I promise I won’t ever be one of those people. If you can’t do the thing I suggest, let’s find another way. Together.
With much love and aloha from Hawaii,
Christine, the OahuPM
As I’ve gotten more and more into blogging in an attempt to be of use to folks with the pain points they approach me begging for help with every day, I’ve noticed a lot more the posts of other people who, on the surface, seem to be trying to do the same thing I am: help people. However, when you actually open their articles and read them, you realize that 93% (yes, I have counted and done the math for the ones I have looked at, which numbers 303 as of this moment) suffer from one of two things. Either:
- They’re telling people what the “right” or “wrong” thing, mindset, characteristic or technique is but they’re not actually HELPING their reader by explaining what to do to “fix” whatever the thing is, or
- They’re sharing largely useless information for the sole purpose of getting people to buy their product/course/whatever-they’re-selling OR to sign up for their email list which they will then funnel people through to sell them something at some point.
In the interest of transparency, do I have something to sell you? Yes, of course I do. However, I’m not blogging to sell my book series, I’m blogging to help people. I offer my tips and tricks free of charge, and if you feel like you might want to check out my books, well, then, that’s up to you!
In the interest of further transparency, do I want you to sign up to my email list? Yes, of course I do. I share a lot of helpful tips and tricks. Real life stories and case studies. Useful information, not sketched articles with a BUY MY THING plea at the end (or in the middle of) of a spiel. Will I one day be sharing with you a “sales funnel” and ask you to purchase my course? Yep. I definitely will, if you are on my email list. But you can hit the Delete button if you don’t wanna, and I won’t kick you off my list. I will still send you helpful – actually helpful – information because aside from wanting to make money like pretty much everyone does, my biggest goal is to HELP PEOPLE. Period. I want to help others be successful, defeat overwhelm, manage themselves, understand they’re not alone, the list goes on.
And at this moment I am getting NOTHING out of this blog or out of my email subscribers other than the hope and knowledge, when they tell me so, that I am providing assistance to people who need it. *time for some warm fuzzies in the heart*
SO…all that transparency out of the way now, let me get down to explaining numbers 1 and 2 above.
(This sounds like it might wind up being a Dr. Seuss poem with Thing 1 and Thing 2, but no, sorry, it isn’t!)
They’re telling people what the “right” or “wrong” thing, mindset, characteristic or technique is but they’re not actually HELPING their reader by explaining what to do to “fix” whatever the thing is.
I spent two weeks being annoyed about an article in which someone told their readers what confident people did or didn’t do, but didn’t actually then go on to try to help people figure out how to change if they were “doing the wrong thing” according to his assessment. What wound up happening as I attempted to go through to give people How To’s to go with the article in a post I was writing u, is that I disagreed with a good number of what he felt were characteristics of confident people. But what that really taught me (beyond the fact that a lot of these people use blanket statements as though they are gods-given facts that are true for all human beings) is that all he was trying to do was get you to believe he knew everything so you’d buy his book and thus learn everything. Which starts straying into Thing 2 but guess what? THEY ARE HEAVILY RELATED.
They’re sharing largely useless information for the sole purpose of getting people to buy their product/course/whatever-they’re-selling OR to sign up for their email list which they will then funnel people through to sell them something at some point.
This happens over and over and over again. Even if what someone says in their post/article resonates with me, I get immediately disgusted by the frequent, repeated attempts to get me to buy their whatever, either via interspersing BUY NOW in the middle of the post, with a popup that hits me at some point while I’m on their site or at the very top with a HUGE “BUY IT NOW” thing that’s difficult to scroll past in order to actually get to the article. I don’t mind if they throw it in at the end, because by then I might like and trust them enough to have a look. But it was after about the 100th post that had ads for their book after nearly every paragraph in the article that I finally understood just how related Thing 1 and Thing 2 really are. The reason people give you sketchy or bare bones information in their article/post is because they are hoping you’ll buy their book/course/whatever believing that they’ll give you the actual information that would help you with the pain point they’re talking-but-not-really-talking-about. And to their credit, their product very well may be the best thing that ever happened to your life.
But call me overly practical or any other words you can think of here…my problem with all of that is this – especially for people who are facing Overwhelm due to things or people already usurping their time – is that these supposed helpers with potentially kick-ass solutions to your problems have just wasted however much of your time it took you to read their article. And they have given you nothing in return except a link to spend money with them. YES, their “thing” might help one or more of the readers of the article they just used as a sales pitch. But if the reader is not solvent, has no credit card with an available balance, is desperate or doesn’t even have the time to pee let alone take a whole course or read a whole book, then the supposed helper has given you nothing in exchange for the 5, 10 or 15 minutes you’ve just spent on and with their words. I’m presuming that you as a reader saw a headline and were praying it would help you with a quick idea about how to address a pain point of yours. But it didn’t, and that makes me sad. (I also know how negatively I will think of someone when I thought their article was going to share something valuable and it just turned out to be a sales pitch…chances are I will ignore them from that point on even if another thing they post sounds useful.)
To me, what many people today are doing is no different from the old direct marketing letters we used to get via snail mail where all the big, bold print blared that THIS LETTER WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. So you spent time reading it only to find out that while asking the right questions or correctly identifying the pain points, it was all only to then make you buy “the thing” at the end of it. Those letters never did anything to actually assist you. These blog posts and articles today – many of them, not all! – are really the same. How frustrating. Why not just go back to those old sales letters, in that case?
Now, of course, if everyone gave away all their knowledge up front then they wouldn’t have anything to sell in a product, is the thought. Well, yes and no. As a very smart guru I listen to has said repeatedly, giving away your knowledge doesn’t make you less likely to sell whatever your product is. On the contrary, people will see you as providing content that is valuable to them and they will then trust that you really DO care about them and if you’re giving them awesome stuff now, imagine the even more awesome stuff available later on, right? But if all I do is write articles that tell you everything “this kind of person” does wrong, only to then say “but spend all your dough with me to find out the right things” then all I am is a car salesman. I personally avoid those folks like the plague, so I presume others do as well.
I truly want to HELP. And I want to make money. Those things are not mutually exclusive. But I don’t think that telling people “these are the 10 things all productive people do” without then also sharing thoughts about how to change themselves if they’re not one of those people is going to get me anywhere other than ignored by folks who might one day become my clients if I show them I really and truly wish to help, not just sell.
There is my rant and here is my promise: I want to help everyone who faces life’s various challenges. I focus on defeating Overwhelm and what is (laughingly) called Time Management, but if you check out my diverse blog posts you’ll see I talk about other stuff too, like Control Freaks and how to tell if you’re one, how to deal with them, how to handle spotlight stealers and a bunch of other things that I hope people are finding useful. So I promise you that I won’t stop being helpful just because I have a book series out, or am developing an online course to go with it…nor will I ditch you if you stay on my email list or stick with my blog without buying from me.
Because to coin a catch phrase that I usually detest, ‘at the end of the day’ my wealth comes from knowing there is one person out there that I helped by making a suggestion that worked for them. (Just like I’ve been helping friends and family members for years without getting paid for it.)
Nothing is a one size fits all solution. Not everything that everyone suggests or shares will work for all people. But at least I’m actively trying to help, without charging for my life experience. I really wish more of my peers would feel the love and contemplate doing the same.
Sign up on my blog, or don’t. Sign up on my email list, or don’t. It’s up to where you want to spend your time. I want to be a Help Desk, not The Unhelpful Desk. 🙂