At a yard sale a few months ago, I saw a large box of books for sale in someone’s driveway.
They were all on the same topic: Taking control of your personal finances.
I read through the book jackets, and saw a common theme:
- People have financial pain.
- People need a solution.
- This book has the solution.
The implication was, “If you buy this book, it will solve your problem. You’ll finally find success, and you’ll never need to read another book on this topic.”
But all of them said basically the same thing.
If each book did what it promised, there would only be one book in that box. It would have solved the problem, and was no longer needed.
But there were probably 20 books in the box. That means the owner tried one, and it didn’t work. So he or she tried another, and another, and another.
I’ve seen other boxes of books on dieting, fitness and relationships. All of them promise success. But all of them are surrounded with other books making the same empty promises.
People have pain in their lives. They’re looking for solutions. When they’re desperate, they’re an easy target for quick fixes. They’re trying to win the life lottery, hoping for a simple, painless answer that will relieve the pain.
It’s called opportunity cost. Whatever time and money we spend on something, that time is no longer available for anything else.
Maybe, instead of spending $20 on a self-help book, we should invest that $20.
Maybe, instead of reading the latest diet book, we should go for a walk.
Maybe, instead of browsing magazine articles about better relationships, we should sit down with that person and share life over a meal.
(I can’t believe I’m telling people to not buy the kind of books I write for a living . . . )
The books aren’t bad. They offer great food for thought, and a new perspective to help us develop solutions.
But they won’t provide the solution we’re hoping for. They’re just an ingredient in the solution.
Learn to ignore the hype on the back cover. Read the insides to gain another person’s perspective.
Then make it your own, and do the work to make change happen.