According to a Marketdata Enterprises market report, the U.S. self-improvement market is worth $9.6 Billion. No doubt it is a huge industry. So huge in fact that it is easy for the neophyte and even for the long time adept to get lost in it.
Most everyone interested in self-development is looking for the fastest and most effective way to acquire the secrets that will lead to instant success. Finding that elusive path to success is in itself a colossal undertaking. Every guru claims to hold the key to the Holy Grail and we are bombarded with advertisements and infomercials all promising Nirvana.
There are many theories in the field of self-improvement but only a few things are certain. That is the fact that no one has all the answers and no one technique or method will work for everyone. We are all different, our needs are different and we are also at different stage of growth. So, the bottom line is that it is left to us to find, through trials and errors, what works best and what will benefit us the most.
That being said, there are a few fundamental principles in the art and science of self-improvement that bears special attention. The first of which is the fact that there are two different approaches to personal improvement. One of these approaches is focused on modality techniques and the other on character improvement.
Modality techniques could also be called, tricks of the trade. Basically it focuses on ways to manipulate and influence people so that we can get what we want. In the worst cases, it teaches what you would expect from a slick used car salesman and at best, it's an amalgamate of pop psychology destined to get people's approval and cooperation. There is no doubt that the modality techniques may help us get the things that we want but the question is, is it really self-development?
Character improvement, on the other hand, is self-development at its finest. Character improvement seeks to improve the individual at its very core. It aims to turn raw potential into an effective, value driven, successful and dependable person. It's a transformation of who the person is and not simply a change in behavior.
The problem with that approach is that it is a long-term process. No guru, no secret technique or special seminar can do that overnight. It is a fundamental change that requires effort, diligence and some form of tutorial assistance.
That tutorial assistance is where gurus, CDs, books and tapes come in. These are the personal coaches who will guide us on our journey of self-improvement. They provide the information that must be assimilated to affect the personal changes that we want to make but we, and only we, can do the work and travel the road that must be crossed to reach our objective.
True self-improvement is a lifelong project. It could be said that it's a state of mind. It means to be forever on the lookout for way and means to improve who we fundamentally are. It is the ultimate quest of self-actualization, the discovery and complete exploitation of our full potential.
Not a simple or easy task. In the words of Alexis Carell, the man who spent his entire life studying man, "It is not easy for man to change because he is at the same time the block of granite and the artisan who must, through powerful stroke of the hammer, chisel out of his own substance the masterpiece that he wants to become."
That is what self-improvement is all about. It's a science, an art and a lifelong quest.
Dr. Raymond Comeau aka Shamou is the Author of ShamouBlog and Administrator of Personal Development for Personal Success Forums.