My Addiction To Growth Books
Hi. My name is Elliotte, and I’m a Growth Book Junkie.
I call it my GBJ, for short.
Growth books are a great addiction to have: they’re inexpensive, portable, quiet, tidy, convenient, full of smart stuff, reading them fits my schedule and it’s far cheaper than therapy! Unlike other addictions I have (Cheetos, Netflix, eating Cheetos while binge watching Netflix), I feel great about my time spent reading growth books. I’m not going to stop.
It’s tasty, like a PBJ. Sometimes I want to eat a PBJ while I do my GBJ. Yum!
But I do have a dark side to my habit.
I Take My GBJ in the Bathroom
Yes, this article has a bit of potty talk. Everybody poops. Deal with it. I have a medical condition that means I spend some extra time on the toilet. Plus, I take a lot of epsom salt baths to relax. So the bathroom has become my primary private place —it’s the one place in the house my daughter doesn’t barge into without asking (usually). And it’s where I get my fix.
Instead of a bathroom magazine rack, I have a book shelf with 3–4 personal development, business growth, creative companion, and/or art activity books in progress at any given time.
I read books on how to become a better person, leader, mother, friend, partner, speaker, entrepreneur, marketer, thinker and artist. How to be happier, healthier, and wealthier. Some folks call them personal development or business strategy or life skills or self help books. I call them all growth books.
In the past 5 years, I have bought **100+** growth books filled with great wisdom. I’ve read parts of most, and finished some. When I discovered Audible, I started listening to growth books while I drive. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of my time — but that’s far cheaper than the therapy or coaching programs the authors offer!
At some point soon, I’ll start making a list of my growth books… But for now, I’m focusing on one book. The book that broke me open.
I Admit, I Have a Problem
I just started reading “The Way You Do Anything is the Way You Do Everything” by Suzanne Evans. By just started, I mean I was easily reading along in the bathroom (where I usually ready my business and personal development books) and made it to page 15 — the end of Chapter 1. Suzanne’s blunt style works for me, but her “homework note” was a painful slap to my soul. Suzanne writes:
“If you’re the type of person who skips over the exercises and says, “That’s not for me,” then you might as well throw this book out, because the odds are, you’re skipping over the other hard work that’s going to make a difference.”
I slammed the book shut.
Shit! (Good thing I was in the bathroom already!!!)
I NEVER do the homework. All that wisdom — at a huge discount compared to in-person programs — and yet I don’t do the work and activities within these books. Ever!
I’m a “GBJ” — Growth Book Junkie — and I’ve done maybe 5 homework exercises. Ever. I’m reading to get the info, but not doing the work to get results. Yes, I’ve learned things and I’ve seen small improvements. But, I want Epic Growth. That’s why I bought the book!
“The Way You Do Anything is The Way You Do Everything.”
Being a Growth Book Junkie isn’t the problem. But being a GBJ alone in my bathroom, reading 3 books in fits and spurts, skipping all the homework, never talking about what I’m learning — is not going to make a difference.
So I slammed that book shut, but I didn’t throw it away. I knew I had to get clear about why I’ve been skipping my homework — in the books and in everything else - before I turned one more page.
How I Do My GBJ Is How I Do My Business
I thought about my GBJ habit — and how it reflects the way I do everything. It marinated and stewed in my brain. Why am I not doing the homework in these books, that would improve my life, business and relationships? Homework. Homework. Homework…
I always did my homework in school. But how did I actually get it done? What made me? I almost always waited until the last minute, often pulling something out of my ass the night before it was due and staying up until 3:30 am to finish. I met the deadline — but I usually felt brain dead afterwards. And I did my homework because I wanted good grades, and I wanted those because they would give me a clear measurement of my worth. I got straight A’s as a kid. I was top of my class in college. I did that homework, and I got the results I wanted. Then I started my career, and I got my job tasks done (making my deadlines — barely) and earning more money and more money.
And then I started a business called the Unicorn Scouts. And becoming an entrepreneur is a totally different experience from school or working in an office.
I’m so passionate about the magic I make in the world. But honestly, I’m struggling to get things done. I’m not doing all the homework or meeting my own deadlines… It’s costing me money. It’s making me feel like I’m failing at my life’s mission.
The FULL title to Suzanne’s book is: “The Way You Do Anything is the Way You Do Everything: The Why of Why Your Business Isn’t Making More Money.”
So what am I missing, now that I’m an entrepreneur, that has me not doing the homework?
The first chapter of the book talks about willpower. But lack of willpower is the problem…. not the solution. Suzanne’s book, I assume, will help. But until I know that this time I will do the homework she gives me, the book stays shut.
It’s Time To Change
When ideas for change are marinating in my brain, I often get out my markers and see what flows. One night this week, I was falling asleep after drawing until 3:30 am — and inspiration came to me. First it was one word. Then that word expanded into a formula. It flipped over to show Everything clicked into place — the missing piece in my personal development puzzle snapped into clarity. I know why my GBJ time hasn’t worked. I know why I’m not getting my homework done in so many aspects of my life.
And then I saw it’s the secret formula behind the BILLIONS of dollars people spend on all sorts of personal development programs and products — and often don’t get the results they want. It’s why thousands of people sign up for online courses —be it an educational MOOC or a coaches program — but a small fraction actually do the work. Because they’re missing this piece.
My Formula For Epic Growth
Now, before I share my formula, I want to say it seems simple when I see it now. Maybe it’s clear to you already. It’s a little vulnerable to tell you — you might judge me/my idea and find me/it lacking.
But I know I’m not alone in my experience of confusion and frustration and feeling stuck. I know willpower is finite, and I feel like I don’t have enough. I know the War of Art (read this book!) — creating anything in our lives — is a dance with resistance and overcoming my inner crap to SHIP.
I know this is a human-existence problem. Because there are SO MANY books out there, written with so much care and wisdom. And people keep buying them and not doing the work the books tell them to do. They want to change, but their willpower needs a boost. So they hire a coach (maybe even the author) or a trainer, join a weight loss club or a business mastermind — and spend thousands of dollars so that person will tell them to do the work, and show them how.
Smart solutions to our lack of willpower — that’s a BILLION dollar business. Because you can get HUGE results. The big changes I want. The ones available, for a huge discount, in a lot of books….
When they include the formula:
Epic Growth = Accountability +Creativity +Togetherness + Immediacy
It’s easy to remember as Epic Growth ACT! (The ! = Immediacy.)
How to Use The Epic Growth ACT! Formula
What is your vision? What magic do you want to make in the world? I’ll share my approach to visioning exercises later. For now, a simple goal statement will do.
“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.” That’s a definition I found in a business dictionary. What it boils down to, for me, is that I make a commitment and I keep it. To myself, to my daughter, to my business, to my friends, to my community.
Creativity is the act of making anything — creation. It’s also about the creative mindset — trying new things, thinking new thoughts, telling new stories. It’s also about producing— actually *creating* something to share. You liberate your ideas when you set them free in the world.
Extrovert, introvert, ambivert or other — human interaction is essential. We thrive in community. Teams, companies, clubs, groups, parties, families — people do well together.
I recently read a book (hello, growth book junkie here) called “Steal Like An Artist.” The author, Austin Kleon, talks about the idea of a “scenius.”
There’s a healthier way of thinking about creativity that the musician Brian Eno refers to as “scenius.” Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals — artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers — who make up an “ecology of talent.” If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as lone geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.” Scenius doesn’t take away from the achievements of those great individuals: it just acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.
What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don’t consider ourselves geniuses. Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute — the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. If we forget about genius and think more about how we can nurture and contribute to a scenius, we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of the worlds we want to accept us. We can stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.
It’s important to have a sense of urgency, and to act quickly. That isn’t to say you take irrational action, but fast (and functional but not fancy) is better than slow and stuck. You can add the polish later. You’ll get better with practice. But none of that happens if you don’t get started. Now! The longer you wait, the louder the resistance gets.
So, What About My Addiction to Growth Books?
I’m changing my GBJ habit — because I can. I CHOOSE to do anything, everything, with accountability, creativity, togetherness and immediacy.
Epic Growth goal: read “The Way You Do Anything is The Way You Do Everything” in October and actually DO the work to make more money with the Unicorn Scouts.
I’m making reading this book — and future growth books — an Epic Growth ACT! And here’s how I’m applying my formula to get results.
Accountability: I’m creating accountability by publicly announcing my plan — to complete at least a chapter a week — in this post. I’m going to publish my podcast episodes at least weekly.
Creativity: I’m creating an Epic Growth ACT! podcast series talking about the book, and my work with the book. Maybe I’ll have people talk with me. I might do FB Lives. Let’s see what happens. I just know I am getting CREATING!
Here is my first Epic Growth ACT! creation:
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I recorded this 30-minute episode in the car on my way home from taking my daughter to school. It’s super rough and the raw audio is scratchy in spots (motivation to improve for next week). But I am posting it!!! Because accountability, creativity, togetherness and immediate action overcome creative resistance (the thing that drains my willpower)!
Update: Here is my FB Live doing the work with the book. Chapter 1.
Togetherness: I’m inviting folks to do this Epic Growth ACT! with me. I’ve created a Public Facebook Group for the book club podcast. We can share insights as we go. You are invited to join, and most welcome to contribute.
You can join here!
And I’m publishing this post before I have everything polished. Because…
!mmediacy: I know if I wait for everything to be perfectly ready — I won’t get this done! Resistance gets higher the longer an idea takes to get out of my brain. I’ve learned this about myself. So, things won’t be perfect for a while. The podcast isn’t professional audio. I don’t have a logo. I have so many things happening already! I’ve taken too long writing this blog post! But I’m getting this going NOW!!!!
I’m DOing something very different with this Growth ACT! I’m excited to learn from Suzanne’s wisdom. And to learn from folks that DO the work in these books, on your own — — how do you do that?!
Am I alone in the willpower struggle? I don’t think so. And if you want to JOIN me — please connect with the FB group.
Btw — this video, shared by a friend of mine, landed in my Facebook feed right after I wrote about my lack of willpower to do the work.
Tell me in the comments: What is YOUR Epic Growth goal? How will you ACT! ?