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JEFFREY TOBIN: Ready, set, stop!

by on July 21, 2013 2:50 AM

If you’re interested in self-improvement, I have good news for you. You’ve got plenty to work on. So if you have interest in self-improvement, you’ll probably find the topic to be a bottomless pit of improvements you can work on for the rest of your life.

In short, the good news is you’ve got plenty of bad news to work on.

Of course, I include myself in this news. But I’ve learned one thing that makes it easier for me to deal with the depth of my condition.

Over the years, I’ve tossed more self-improvement books, CDs, podcasts, webinars and videos into my self-improvement hole than I could ever count. Did they do any good? Some, but nothing significant. At least not at first.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy all of that learning; I did. But the ultimate question is not about how much I learned, but what the results were. For me, not much. That is, it wasn’t much until I discovered the secret of self-improvement.

The secret is to start in the right place.

Throwing books at the specter of a poor self-perception isn’t going to scare it away. That’s because most of these resources start in the wrong place.

Imagine a house that’s in need of some improvements. Perhaps the foundation is a bit shaky. There might be a small amount of rot in a few of the structural beams. You might notice some leaks in the bedroom ceiling. Your solution: Put on some new vinyl siding?

Naaa, I don’t think so.

That would be starting on the outside — the wrong place.

Starting in the right place requires a serious look at all aspects of the house including its history, intended use and structure.

Is it now a makeshift apartment house that was originally built to be a family residence? Why, you might find a beautiful and hidden painted lady, just waiting to show herself and increase property values all around her.

What I’ve come to know is that personal growth does not start on the outside with “improvements.” It starts on the inside with self-discovery. The real danger is that I might end up hiding the beauty of myself with some instruction manuals from a “self-improvement hardware store.”

Start in the right place. Ignore what the world says you need to do to be a “better person.”

Take a good look at who you are — who you are built to be. Uncover what you know to be your original purpose. Then, and only then, can you select the right tools to help you bring about your original, beautiful design.

Get ready: Get ready to take personal growth to a whole new level.

Get set: Set your mind to accept your original design.

Stop: Stop covering yourself up with the vinyl siding of self-improvement, then …

Go, baby go!

Jeffrey Tobin, an international speaker and business coach. He is also the owner of Henry Hall Office Products in Indiana and hosts the website His professional advocacy columns appear Sundays in the Business section of The Indiana Gazette and the Community News page on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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