The Guide by Dr William Holden
There are many self-help books and courses out there, some with hidden costs or not-so hidden costs, for anyone who feels that their life could be better. Why? The key is that lots of people feel that life is working against them and they are unable to achieve their heart's desires, whether professionally or personally. This is a multi-million pound industry with people attempting to find themselves and success at the same time.
And now here's Dr William Holden with his take on this, called simply The Guide. Dr Holden is considered a world authority on personal development and his company Sewells is contracted by many huge companies to help these organisations free the potential within their employees. Why? Well one of the things that all employers are keen to harvest is the potential in ideas from their employees to find newer and better ways of working, which can in turn either cut costs or increase profits, but also to make their workforces happier as a whole.
Really? Why, yes. I work in an office as a manager and one of my goals is to help people come up with development plans in order to increase people's skill sets and improve their productivity. Too often I find that the inherent negativity within individuals holds them back when a little positivity and self-belief will see them soar. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but not much of one in truth. The reason for this being that only self-doubt holds people back. People get to stuck in their ways and fail to see the positive in their jobs, part of the key is to enjoy what you do as without it you'll almost certainly fall into the trap of never trying something extra or new.
Dr Holden's book is not as dry as a lot of self-help manuals, which are generally just text about the various tips and ideas that people can use to better themselves. Holden uses the format of a novel with two characters, old friends Maya and Paul, to instil the information he wants to impart. Paul is a typical male who feels that his life isn't going anywhere until he bumps into his old female friend Maya, who seems full of confidence and whose life was as 'bad' as Paul's but now seems to be full of the success they both dreamed of. Maya lets Paul into the secrets of her success, but bit by bit so that Paul is able to digest each of the lessons and practice them without being overloaded or overreaching himself.
This approach works but has a little drawback. Due to the nature of the book, the character Paul is an overenthusiastic man who seems to grasp each concept incredibly easily, whereas in reality he would have made a slip or two. It would have been nice to have seen this or for him to have been wrong on a couple of occasions as this is human nature and will happen to people attempting to follow this book and its principles.
That is really my only criticism though as this book is pretty engaging and full of simple ideas, most of which people will already use in some portion of their lives. Dr Holden's central theory in this book is that positive thinking draws the forces of the Universe together to make things happen. This is a direct parallel to religion with a central God-like figure making things happen for those who have the faith (whichever faith this happens to be) and dedicate their lives to following the teachings, scriptures, etc.
Personally I believe that people make all of these things happen by themselves. The power of positive thought and a positive attitude is what makes the difference. It's not about avoiding mistakes, far from it, it's about making them, picking yourself up and starting again without allowing self-doubt to prevent you from doing it. And this is easier said than done.
There are two sides to my life, as is the case with most people; my professional life and personal life. My professional life is successful in my view as I'm doing what I enjoy doing, I'm taking the opportunity to increase my responsibility and increase my knowledge and experience in my chosen field (the third one in my working life). I am fully in control here as I have nothing but positive thoughts in how I approach this aspect of my life and how I interact with others. My personal life is a different story. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy within my circumstances but don't feel as complete as I could and find that I'm actually quite harsh on myself, therefore I don't have the positivity to do something about it; there's always something that holds me back.
What I found reading this book is that I know a lot of what Dr Holden is talking about already, I use a lot of the techniques described without even knowing it, but almost uniquely in my professional life. I now need to utilise these same techniques in my personal life to get where I would like to be and The Guide sets out the simple regimen in order to achieve this, with templates and exercises at the back of the book for continued use. It just takes a bit of effort and a lot of self-belief with realistic goals. One of the things I try to tell people in work is that progression is not about power or increase in salary, it's about an increase in responsibility and the ability to influence a wider circle of people. This is my core philosophy and why I believe that I have achieved the success I have to date in my third career, not to mention my second prior to redundancy. It's just a shame that I let self-doubt cloud my personal life, and I know that when I'm ready that will change, but only when I'm ready.
The key is not about a divine outside power guiding us or providing us with what we think we deserve, it's about having the drive and self-belief to achieve it by ourselves. Many people simply don't have this self-belief in abundance but the world would be a much better place if they did.
The Guide can help you find that self-belief if you let it.