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My To-Do List Has A To-Do List

Self-Improvement vs Mindset

2/21/2024 | The Take Away

At a roast for one of my closest friends whom I steered into this industry over 40 years ago, I cited his “addiction” to self-improvement books. In my ever-facetious way I said to the party guests, that despite reading almost every self-improvement book published, he has shown no visible signs of self-improvement. Over the years he said, “You have to read this one” and gave me the book. I confess, after one or two, I did not open them. I do not have the personality to invest in guru advice. So, I remain unimproved in the 7th inning of my life.  

Email after email passes through my browser from all types of coaches in our industry and outside our industry. I have noted the difference between “self-improvement” and specific sales and marketing strategies. I have and continue to “gobble up” sales and marketing strategies. I can execute them immediately and measure the results. I can’t do that as easily and effectively with self-improvement. I have a to-do list and another to-do list to remind me to look at my to-do list. I have Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and a host of other voices reminding me to look at my to-do list and to-do list. I submit for your consideration that it all is still on my current to-do list. As a matter of fact, this column has been on the to-do list and was submitted two days late. Now back to the point I am trying to make. It takes a certain person with well-established personality traits to benefit from coaches, courses, and books. 

Advice is a thriving industry, offering a plethora of coaches, courses, and books aimed at guiding individuals toward personal development and growth. While these resources can be valuable to a wide range of personalities, there exists a particular type of personality that tends to derive the most benefit from such endeavors. This ideal personality is characterized by a combination of openness, self-awareness, and a proactive mindset.

First, you have to be open to change:

That rules out the majority of my 55+ neighbors.

The individual who can extract the most value from self-improvement initiatives is one who possesses a high degree of openness to change. This personality trait reflects a willingness to embrace novel ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Open individuals tend to be curious, imaginative, and receptive to new concepts, making them ideal candidates for the diverse array of self-improvement strategies available.


I read and believed in Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I remain ineffective. I am also ticked off that after telling me there were 7, he came out with more and more. I thought it a con to sell more books.

Another crucial aspect of the ideal personality for self-improvement is a high level of self-awareness. Self-aware individuals possess a deep understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, values, and motivations. This self-knowledge forms a solid foundation upon which self-improvement efforts can be built. Self-awareness enables individuals to identify specific areas of their lives that require enhancement and allows them to set realistic and meaningful goals. 

Proactive Mindset:

A proactive mindset is a key characteristic of individuals who thrive in the realm of self-improvement. Proactivity involves taking initiative, being accountable for one's actions, and actively seeking solutions to challenges. Individuals with a proactive mindset do not wait for change to happen; instead, they actively engage in the process of self-improvement.

While individuals of various personality types can undoubtedly benefit from self-improvement coaches, courses, and books, those who possess a combination of openness, self-awareness, and a proactive mindset are likely to extract the most value. Be it internal or external, dig deep into what the takeaways are before you spend money and sign up.

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