Why And What You Read Might Be Dangerous

I love to read and to learn. Both are critical to the growth and development of ones intellect. Both are extremely important and go hand in hand as a big way to make life better. I am not suggesting that you stop reading completely. What I am suggesting is that you, from time to time, alter your intention when you read.

‎The post Why Your Life Is Fine, I talked a little about the 3 ways we approach or respond when we are listening to someone. The first is with agreement – their information or story confirms to what we know to be true. The second is with disagreement – what they are saying doesn’t match what we know to be true. The third way is with authentic curiosity as to how and why what they are saying is right, if we disagree or wrong if we agree. From this dialectic approach we’d ask the question what would need to be real for that state that to be true.

Doing this isn’t easy and it requires a willingness to say I don’t know, which is risky and uncommon for us. While it is well worth doing, it is mentally draining and something humans are innately disinclined to do.

But moving forward by not doing it isn’t moving forward at all, and this why I make the statement that why and what you read might be dangerous. If you read with the intention of acquiring knowledge that confirms a belief, you aren’t really learning anything valuable; at least from my point of view, you are not generating anything new. The best parts of your brain are not being activated and your essential contribution to the world are not being actualized.

For example, I get a lot of emails about services and systems that pertain to the fitness field. 90 percent of them at least are about generating more revenue and becoming an effective seller. All of them use the same model, which is based on solid scientific research about gaining compliance. All use emotional selling methods with the goal of uncovering an emotional “why”. They all say the same catch phrases like “people won’t care until they know how much you care” ‎or “we have a proven system that has been used successfully by this many thousands of people”. It all sounds truthy, feels like it is correct and lands like it is genuinely helpful.

These sales systems are effective at getting people to sign up for large packages, commit on the spot to many months of training, and in creating a feeling of hope that is then leveraged to create revenue and massive profits for the seller. But it is total crap in terms of actually helping people improve their fitness. The questions they encourage the reader to ask exist to generate the information needed to back a person into a corner and then overcome any objections.

The success rate for people who work with trainers is powerfully low. 80 percent of people get very little change ever and less than 10 percent ‎maintain their results over a three year period. With success numbers like these there is something unworkable about emotional selling; it helps close the deal but it doesn’t help most of the people it is used on. Anyone who is reading these books / systems is doing so because they are looking for a panacea to help close a sale. This is dangerous to the trainer / coach because it ruins their brand, destroys their reputation and alienates their staff and team members.

So what exactly am I saying here? Very simply, if you are reading books about how to become the perfect trainer, coach, lover, pick-up artist, consultant, sales person, etc…., rethink the question you are trying to get the answer to. For example, if you are seeking a system to help improve your sales, consider asking the question “why are my sales not at a level I like?” or “am I actually helping clients with the service I am providing?” or “is my service or product effective at doing what it is supposed to do” or “are the results and experiences of my clients / customers good enough to enroll other people into my service” or “what is the unique thing that I bring forward in this area?” Compare these questions to “how do I improve my sales?” You’ll get very different answers which will shine a light on the things that actually need to be improved, changed or highlighted.

The best people in any industry are the best because they are the best, not because they read a book or implemented a system. They cultivated their wisdom through education, practice, trial and error and uncovering the X factor that they bring to the table. They understand individuality and tailor their advice to match the individual. They sell what people need and want and they do so without using emotionally manipulative techniques. They don’t enter into conversations with the belief that everyone should buy their product or service. They know who will benefit from buying and they know that that isn’t everyone.

As you move forward, I invite you to be more curious and mindful about your intentions when you read. What is the outcome you are seeking and what is your motivation? Once you are clear on these things you’ll have a better idea of what exactly you should be doing. And adjust your course when these things don’t line-up.