Ignore All the Self-Help Books. Just Follow These Two Principles

I’ve read more than 50 books on self-help, growth, and personal development. Over the years of reading, I started to notice a common thread amongst all of them, and as a result, I’ve been working for the last few weeks to write a summary of the main ideas, sort of like Sparknotes or a Self-Help Cheat Sheet.

The idea was to distill the most important takeaways without having to read a dozen books.

I spent weeks writing a big essay describing the 12 “essentials” of Self-Help — obvious things like being grateful, having a community, doing hard things, and being consistent.

The other night, my podcast co-host Keith brought this exact topic up. I was fully prepared to go through my bullet-point list that I’d been working on for weeks at that point, but as I began to talk it out loud for the first time, I realized that improving one’s life really boils down to two things:

  1. Keeping Promises to Yourself
  2. The Story You Tell Yourself

One of my favorite quotes from Naval Ravikant is, “Self-esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. You’ll always know.

Kobe Bryant was notorious for his commitment to practicing more than anyone else. Every off-season, he‘d sign a contract outlining his daily workout regimen — the schedule, the amount of reps, and the number of shots made. “I’m not negotiating with myself,” he says, “the deal was already made. When I set out in the summer and said ‘This is the training plan I am doing’ I signed that contract with myself and I’M DOING IT.” No questions asked.

You think Kobe had any self-confidence problems?

‘The Black Mamba’ thrived off the reassurance that he kept his word and followed through on that promise every single day. Even if his team ultimately fell short of their championship goals that season, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that he could have put more effort in.

When you follow through on your commitments, you develop self-confidence by consistently keeping that promise to yourself. After several weeks of sticking to your commitment, you start building a stack of evidence that you are who you say you are.

Self-love isn’t a wine and spa day, it’s holding yourself to a higher standard than anyone else does. — Alex Hormozi

But if you want to achieve better results, you have to tell yourself a better story.

Most people quit when they don’t see results after a few days or weeks. “I’ll never lose weight.” “I’ll never make enough money to afford that.” These self-limiting stories keep us protected from failing, because if you never believe you can accomplish it in the first place, then there’s no chance of failure.

We’re wired to think negatively. It’s in our DNA. As a result, you’ve likely allowed yourself to create a set of beliefs that you’ve tied to a story — a story about why it won’t work, why it can’t work, or why it only works for other people.

A half-hearted approach says, ‘It might work, or it might not…’ — of course it won’t! That belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Do you portray yourself as the victim or the victor?

To make changes that stick, we must create compelling stories for ourselves and for our world. We must use stories to create possibility and to empower us to take action.

Changing your story changes how you see your world, and it changes how you see yourself. You can use your stories to redefine yourself and re-imagine what’s possible. “am healthy and happy. I am wealthy and successful. I don’t get tired, I have endless energy.

When you and the voices in your head work in harmony, your self-confidence soars.

— KB

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