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The Business of Making People Better

Ines Faridiala

In this hyper-competitive world, the one who is most skilled is the one who survives. As a result, everyone wants to be on their top game and keep improving themselves. But most of the time, it’s not with an intention to learn something new, but the sole purpose is to get a better paying job or earn more money than their colleagues. You must have seen those pop-up ads which claim to make you a “more productive person in just 30 days”, “improve your problem-solving skills” or help you “Stop Procrastinating and get organised”. But why are people so interested in these special courses, and can we even trust them?

Self-development products are everywhere

Self-improvement products are everywhere, and to reach out to a wide range of customers, they have been moulded into every format you can possibly think of. From podcasts, books, blogs to Youtube videos and Television shows, you can always find something which may help you develop your personality or make you a more organised person.

Some of these products are free of cost, while others can cost hundreds of dollars with no promise for success. Cegos, one of the world’s largest training organisations provides these self-development courses to corporate employees, and one of their courses, “How to handle your stress” charges 2087$ for just three days of training sessions! Their targeted customers are managers, human resources officers, secretaries and professionals who deal with a lot of stress. If you read their program description, it teaches you very simple things like handling your emotions, doing meditation and defining a life plan, things that you can learn on your own without spending so much money. But there are thousands of people actively taking up these courses and the comments are always filled with life-changing stories. Which makes you wonder why are people so interested to buy these formations?

Why are people interested in self-development products?

Everybody wants to be a better version of themselves and they should work on it as well,

but it seems to have become like an obsession in some cases, where people blindly follow what is trending. And the competitive environment just makes people follow the herd mentality, without even thinking how this thing might benefit them personally. The other reason why people are interested in such products is because there is a constant pressure to be more productive, with the competitive environment we are in, we want to be the best and better than the others, so it becomes natural to look for ways to be more productive. Then there is this constant feeling of guilt, people feel responsible for their bad actions regarding the environment, kindness, work and want to be good for everything and redeem themselves. For example, after Greta Thunberg, a lot of people felt guilty of not making enough for the planet and tried to act. Later this led to a lot of books about sustainability. Also, the society put a pressure on us with perfection, so these books and videos come at the perfect time, because this is what we are all looking for. The problem is that all these advice come from random people and not specialists so can we trust them?

Can we trust random persons to make us better?

The other downside to this “Business of making people better” is the lack of credibility. Social media is a great tool to spread awareness, but at the same time fake news and false information propagates at an even faster rate. Anyone can call themselves a coach in a self-development course even without any specific qualification, so should they be trusted in the first place? Mark Manson, writer of the bestselling self-help book The Subtle Art of Not giving a F*ck was an ordinary blogger before his book became famous, but now he’s selling courses on how to overcome anxiety, without any professional qualification. This has become a serious concern, especially when it’s about topics like mental health issues, just one wrong information, and it can ruin someone's entire life. Same is the case of Han Elrod, writer of the famous book The Miracle Morning. What can also be frustrating is that these books and courses are selling dreams, a goal that you might not access just reading or listening to them, but you have to work yourself to achieve that goal.

The complex of perfection in our century

But what drives people to become a better version of themselves? It’s the human desire for perfection. In the modern world the idea of perfection is idealised by all the social media influencers, movies and tv shows and everybody believes it to be a norm. The society wants us to excel in one or multiple subjects, but it can be too much pressure. For example, on Instagram, everybody looks perfect, and behind your screen, you want to be like them too, even if it’s impossible. You should accept your flaws and understand the fact that nobody is perfect. Also, being perfect in front of others doesn’t mean you’re happy, sometimes it can but most of the times it doesn’t make you happier. To know more about perfection and materialism I would highly recommend you to watch the Netflix documentary Minimalist, which deals with these ideas and tells you how to overcome our obsession with Perfection and make our lives simpler.

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