Let's be clear. I have some serious 'tude this week! What follows is a channeling of my inner Andy Rooney.

It's well and good to offer suggestions. Yet, a growing group of self-help profiteers do that and more. They claim to actually inspire and motivate as they collect their fees, sign books, and sell even more programs and products. I don't know about you, but how can they know what will or will not inspire and motivate me? Are they mind readers too?

This weekend I read one such person's posts about success. He uses examples. Persistently stand in the line of what we want once we figure out which line to stand in. Sacrifice, persist, and swoop, there it is? Is this news to you? It wasn't to me either.

While I suspect that this writer gives thought to what he writes, I suggest that he, and others like him, miss the point. Rather like a growing crowd about the Emperor and his new clothes, it appears that some are so busy selling positivity to themselves and others that common sense takes a holiday. I suggest that this slight of hand is positively dressing and redressing the same set of what sells to buy and/or pay for their compounds in Maui, Sedona, San Rafael, and elsewhere.

Self-help is big business. If we want to be successful like them, we better listen up and do exactly what they tell us so that we can also be wildly happy, successful, fulfilled, well, etc., right? Well, there is a sticky wicket in this. It's called perspective. One man's positive may well be another's negative. One's fun, another's nightmare. Osama bin Laden and Hitler's fun was a bit different than most, for example. So the foundation of positivity is speculative at best; yet, there's more. If positivity is defined as not questioning or analyzing the self-help guru, that removes sales obstacles for the entrepreneur and begins a process of, dare I say it, brainwashing and/or mind control!

I, therefore, suggest that we consumers grasp our pocket books and step away from the abyss of self-help. And, once the siren song of being your best and living without regrets subsides a few octaves, I suggest that we put on our critical thinking caps, which is analyzing our thoughts and their deeper motives and actions. "Actions speak louder than words" (Unknown). How realistic (sustainable, attainable, not delusional) is what he, she, or they may propose?

An example of folks abandoning critical thinking was in the Netherlands at the end of the 16th Century. It began when a new flower arrived, the tulip, and ended much like the 21st Century bungling of global-real-estate investing. People invested more and more in the exotic bulbs. As the speculation grew, so did the supply. As the supply grew, so did the demand until the inevitable tipping point arrived when supply outreached demand. And, well, you can guess the rest of this story. Millions were lost; yet, millions were also gained by the providers. Which, leads me back to the self-help boom that we are currently in.

Grabbing hold of our common sense in this realm may save us quite a bit of wheel spinning. And once the visions of sugar plums stop swirling in our heads, here's what I hope. I hope that we, as individuals stop giving our power away to so-called experts. I hope that we realize that one choice at a time, we are constantly either strengthening or weakening our ability to understand what truly motivates us: wiring and rewiring our neuro-structure or how our brain functions. I hope. I hope.

One change, and only one change can make a tremendous difference in the trajectory or direction of a life. To illustrate, 100 calories less each day equals 14-15 pounds of weight loss in a average person over one year. 100 calories is a 20 minute walk. 100 calories is a dollop of dressing. 100 calories is a piece of toast or two pats of butter.

One change. The self-help empire generates a tsunami of choices.

Further, if the answer to quitting smoking or dipping, for example, was equation like would "an estimated 443,000 [US] people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking."? Further, "Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers" (extracted on 17 Oct 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/AAG/osh.htm )."?

My experience working with thousands of individuals, groups, and organizations is that we humans are complex creatures. We self-organize in highly sophisticated ways: Chaos and String Theory, fractals, etc. When it comes to being bothered to make a change - love, take action, sacrifice, and persist - the sweet spot seems to be clarity about what's in it for us. Once we clarify the cognitive or mental chatter about the stories that we tell ourselves, there it is. And when we see it, we do what we need to get there quite intelligently with or without an inspirational and motivational vendor's help. The challenge, as I see it, is effectively clarifying the chatter. And that, dear readers, takes more than an over-the-counter remedy for most.

Be aware. Be mindful. Examine the goods thoroughly before you buy them. Remember, that often if you buy cheap, you buy twice. A $275 program may sound like a possibility. Upon closer examination, however, how many people have effectively sustained their preferred outcome for one year or more using that program?

Author's Bio: 

Using a pragmatic approach to business and life, Deone Benninghoven, MSM is known as The Be-Clear Gal. She is a sought after coach, speaker, consultant, and author that facilitates the performance development of individuals, teams, and organizations using a strength-based and systemic approach. Her clients consistently indicate that Benninghoven's approach to change management is practical, useful, and sustainable. Individuals, and groups such as Microsoft, Accenture, Symbol Technologies, sovereign nations, local and regional municipalities, leave her Be-Clear keynotes with academically-sound and evidence-based information shared in a fun and easy-to-understand and apply format.

Benninghoven holds a BS and MSM from Antioch University Seattle in Organizational Design & Leadership Development and Management and lives in Seattle, WA. Believing that one step at a time the sculpture, dance, and song of life emerges, she is involved in multiple coaching and organizational-development associations, Toastmasters, the Seattle Writer's Guild, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, City of Seattle Youth Services, and sports, art, dance, and singing groups.

"Be clear on who you are and then be it" (Be True, Be Happy, Hanns-Oskar Porr).