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The Problem with Books About Success

Jonathan Malm - May 23, 2017

I love business. It’s fun to make money and attempt a takeover of specific niches. I’m pretty vocal about how much I love it. So people constantly give me news books they think I should read about business structures, success models, and launch formulas. I’ll usually give them a try, but rarely does one get me excited. I feel like they’re all lacking something pretty fundamental.

Here’s my problem with books about business and success.

1. They can only explain what did work, not what will.

It’s hard to predict success. The few who can have started their own companies and are killing it in the industry (even though they get it wrong often). And because they’re killing it, they don’t have time to write the books. Most books about success merely dissect what others have done and try to figure out why it worked. There’s no guarantee it will ever work again.

2. Books homogenize success when it’s actually highly individualistic.

Part of the reason it’s impossible to predict success is that it’s highly individualistic. What works for one person might not work for another, because the individual’s personality and perspective contributes a lot to the process. Processes are less important than the people who implement the processes. So what works for me might never ever work for you. And you might completely surprise me with your approach to success, because you can do things I never could.

3. Books seek to remove risk when risk is the whole point.

Books sell because they give people confidence. But reward comes from risk, and risk is anything but confident. You can approach a risk with boldness, but you’ll never be sure it will work. That’s the point. Books will try to tell you guarantees, but there are no real guarantees. You just have to take a leap and trust God.

4. Success isn’t our definition; it’s God’s.

Finally, success for you will look different than success for me, because we’re each called by God to different things. You achieving my results might be a complete failure for you. We have to follow God’s individual call for us.

True, we can learn wisdom. We can learn from cautionary tales. But success for each of us will be our own brand new trail. The mountains will be different. Don’t get so tied to the trendy thought processes that you miss your unique path to success.