Think Feel ACT…"Write your own story"

The 10 simple steps to success

Have you noticed the rise and rise of people selling books, courses, webinars all promising “10 simple steps to success”?

  • Want to lose weight? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to become more assertive? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to find meaning in life? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to find peace in a turbulent world? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to get a promotion? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to write a killer blog? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to double hits on your website? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to run a booming business? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to write a bestseller? 10 simple steps to success.
  • Want to develop an e-course? 10 simple steps to success.

I even had a conversation recently about the 10 simple steps to follow when writing an e-book that in turn would promise 10 simple steps to success.

Really – I did.

It started with a conversation about the “10 steps” to building a massive network through my blog in order to build a potential customer base for my business. Now here’s the trick to getting people to actually subscribe to a blog – you write a short e-book (maybe 3-5 pages) and offer it free to people who subscribe.

Nice idea. And what do you call the e-book? “Simple steps to success in ———“.

The simple steps concept has been bugging me for a while, but this conversation opened my eyes to the truth of the matter – “10 simple steps to success” is nothing more than a marketing tool convincing people to buy some very ordinary information.

Apparently we only want to know about outcomes. And you need to promise the outcome in your title in order to get any bites. Apparently we only want to get that outcome if it is simple and easy – dead easy.

So a title that implies anything in the slightest bit realistic will not get a sale.

I want to write a title that goes something like: “Ideas that can help you stress less at work.” And I want to use the word “can” – because they “can” work for people if they implement the ideas and practice them and show some sort of commitment to behaviour change. But nobody wants to know that.

But for a title to sell it would be much better to be something like: “10 simple ideas that will boost your productivity and reduce your stress levels”. That little word “will” – makes an awfully large promise doesn’t it? And the hyperbolic language in the word “boost” just adds to the attractiveness.

It sounds like the answer to all problems is now within grasp – because reading this book or attending this course will fix everything. Now.

But all my training in evidence screams in horror this. It feels very like making a false claim. I have written so much teaching people how to recognise false claims and disputing them, but now it seems I’m being called to promote a delusion that we can get what we want without effort and sweat.

I don’t know if I can do it. I know it’s just marketing and hyperbole and everybody knows that.

But I want to know where my authentic voice comes in when what I want to say is just not hyped enough for customer demands?

Where is the space for creativity and innovation when there is a prescribed way to do anything in 10 simple steps?

Where is the space to add to the body of knowledge when it is all already distilled into perfection of perfection in the form of “10 simple steps to success”?

So, no, I don’t think I will be producing materials like this. Is it a bad business decision? Probably.

But I don’t want to contribute to the false and destructive belief that change and growth is simple, easy and instantaneous. It isn’t. It does sound nice, but for some reason the world we live in requires work before success.

So far I have invested a year in coaching. In that 12 months I have made enormous strides in my personal and professional development. But it has taken sweat and effort. Buckets of it. But the personal and professional rewards of that growth have made each drop of sweat totally worth it. I can honestly say that the rewards have been far greater than what I put in.

Would it feel the same if I’d followed the “10 simple steps to personal and professional development”???

No, I think selling change and growth through inspiration, motivation and meaning (rather than instant gratification) will be the real “boost” people need to get where they are going. And that, my friends, is the path I intend to follow.


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