22 May Are these 4 myths about self-improvement holding you back?
via Harvard Business Review by Christopher Kayes and James Bailey
Advice on how to improve one’s self is everywhere. It accounts for about 2.5% of all book sales in the United States. Add in speeches, training programs, TV programs, online-products, coaches, yoga, and the like, self-help is a $10 billion industry per year, and that’s just in the U.S.
However, research shows that much of the advice extolled may be misleading or even wrong. Several myths about performance persist, despite research and practices that show they are half-truths at best. That might explain why the most likely purchasers of self-improvement books have bought another within the previous 18 months. The first myth-riddled book didn’t work, so they bought another, and maybe another soon after.
A recent report in the Journal of Management noted that of nearly 25,000 academic articles on performance, only a fraction include what psychologists call within person variance, which describes ranges, such as that between individuals’ top, average and worst performances. Advice too often mistakenly assumes performance can be compared across people, using the same gauge. That’s absurd.
Our observation of hundreds of performance seekers largely confirms the report and has led to delineating a series of myths that hold people back when trying to improve. These assertions are based on a diverse set of fields, including psychology, sports, arts, and leadership. We hope that by dispelling these myths, explaining the reality and offering some sound advice instead, we can help move people toward more effective personal development.
Myth 1: Performing at the top means consistent peak performance.
Reality: Top performers experience variability in their performance. Famed musician Gregg Allman has said that he suffered from stage fright throughout his career. The feeling, he explained, was not “Am I any good?” Rather, it was “Am I gonna be good tonight?” Whether he was going to deliver his best, or less, haunted him.
Advice: Expect variability. There’s just no such thing as linear, unwavering, improvement paths. There will be ups and downs. If the path is generally up, all’s good. To the extent you know and appreciate that, you’ll be more patient and less likely to be discouraged…
…keep reading the full & original article HERE