Help yourself, put down the self-help books

Written by: Andrew Griffiths | November 30, 2017

Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s #1 small business author. Each edition Andrew shares business insights with us in his own inspiring way.

We all need to put away the self-development books every once in a while. We live in an over-analytical world where there is a mass of information and opinion on every subject imaginable. . It is very easy to get confused in amongst this information overload and end up more lost than when we started the looking for answers.

If you read enough, you will find there is always an equal and opposite opinion on everything, especially in the world of self -development. I have been a self-development junkie for many years.

I have a huge number of books on every single aspect of personal and business growth lining the shelves in my living room. I have attended many seminars around the planet, again addressing growth and development. I am a very big fan of Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Robin Sharma and the Dalai Lama. All of them were hugely valuable and I have certainly come a long way.

To grow as human beings we need to do some analysis of our lives, of our actions, of our dreams and aspirations, of our past and the challenges we have faced. But today, we have so much information on hand and so many avenues to self-analyse that we can easily spend more time doing this than actually living. If you truly want to grow as a human being, go out and live life to its fullest. We learn about people by interacting with people. You can’t learn about love from a book. You learn by loving another human being. How can you describe the pain of a broken heart? You can’t – it is something we all have to experience for ourselves; the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazingly beautiful.

I love to watch kids learning about life. Tell them not to touch something hot and what do they do? Of course they have to touch it. They seem powerless to control themselves as they are drawn to this thing that they must not touch. They learn from the experience, not from being told about it.

I have a very good friend called Paul Hockey. He is an amazing man on every level. Three weeks after he was born, his doctor noticed a suspicious lump on Paul’s arm. Within hours this new baby was in surgery having his arm removed at the shoulder to get rid of cancer.

He went on to live in Japan for years and learnt the language fluently. He got a job as a courier riding a huge motorbike through the streets of Sydney (a job most of us couldn’t do with two arms). But this was only the beginning. Paul lost his mother, father, stepfather and aunty to cancer. He decided to raise money and awareness on the subject by climbing Mt Everest. Can you imagine how tough this would be with one arm?

It was (and is) almost beyond my comprehension. He was going to be the first disabled person to climb the North Face of Mt Everest, which is universally considered the most grueling approach to the mountain.



“Before you ask anyone for advice, be sure you are asking the right person the right questions, because the wrong person and the wrong questions can lead you down the wrong road with way too much enthusiasm.”



As part of his training for his Everest attempt, Paul carried a backpack full of books miles up a mountain road every second day for a full year. I won’t go into the details here but he came to within a few hundred feet of the summit and his lungs started to fill with blood. Normally at this stage a climber is considered a ‘dead man walking’. He was in terrible shape and fading fast. The climb was aborted, he was taken back to base camp and somehow he survived, but only just. Imagine getting that close to the summit of Mt Everest and not being able to touch it?

For Paul, being the man he is, his Everest attempt of 2004 wasn’t a failure, it was the best practice run he could have. Failure was not an option so he planned to return to Mt Everest the following year.

For his second attempt, the following year, Paul carried a bigger backpack full of books, plus ankle weights up the same road.

But this time he did it for many more miles. And he did it every single day for a year. This time he made it to the summit and claimed the title of the first disabled person to climb the North Face of Mt Everest – a mountain that claims the lives of many able-bodied people every year.

In Paul’s words, nothing can prepare a person for the hardship of Mt Everest. Every book, every interview with other climbers, every other mountain you have climbed can help, but the only way you can really understand it, is to climb the mountain yourself.

Life is like that. By all means, do the training, do your homework, talk to others who have travelled the same road before you. But to truly experience life, we all have to climb our own mountains. We have to put down the books, turn off computers and devices and get out there.

Life is filled with challenges. At times it is incredibly scary. Along the way we will build a bank of experiences that will mean more than any book, film or seminar. We have to laugh, we have to cry, we have to care for others, we have to feel alone, and we have to feel loved. We have to feel it all. But we have to step outside to experience it.

My advice is simple, every once in a while, put away the self-development books and live your life, climb your own mountain.


Andrew Griffiths Recommends



Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown.

OK, I get the irony of quoting a personal development book, after doing a big song and dance about putting the books away for a while, but I’m sure you get my point. We still need to be reading, learning and growing, but not just spending our life with our heads in personal development stuff as opposed to actually getting on with living. That clarified, I’m a giant fan of Brene Brown as an author and as a beautifully authentic thinker. And her latest book is by far my favourite.

For anyone who has never really felt like they belong (OK, let’s just say everyone), this is a very light, easy read, that dives very deep into the core of what belonging really means. If you don’t resonate with the opening chapter, give the book to someone else. I’ve bought quite a few copies for friends – and the response has been extraordinary. I’m just going to suggest a leap of faith.






DENT Podcast hosted by Glen Carlson, cofounder of DENT Global.

This show really covers a lot of ground. Predominantly for entrepreneurs and business owners, Glen really dives deep with his guests. I was interviewed a while back and our session lasted for almost two and a half hours, easily the longest interview I’ve ever had in my life. And when I say we covered ground, we covered everything from all of my business endeavours, animal encounters, personal trials and tribulations – the lot.

If you are looking for a thought provoking, challenging and really entertaining podcast show, check it out on iTunes.





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