Bill Cottringer

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” ~Lawrence Clark Powell.

Having been a reader and writer of the self-growth industry for over 5 decades now, I think I have something to say that needs saying. It all began with my serious reading and writing days in 1961. Back then, I thoughtfully reached a tentative conclusion in my mind that I now fully understand in my bones. This is what Alvin Toffler was warning about in his famous book “Future Shock.” This fantastically intelligent and prophetic writer anticipated some form of technology drawing us into a total state of overload with no apparent way of turning back. It was scary then and it is even scarier now.

Take a minute or better yet, a couple of days, and browse the local bookstores and internet postings, searching for self-growth print and E- books, self-improvement programs, learning tapes and motivational speakers, on just a few narrow topics of your choice. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I already know the results because I just did it with you—this little exercise will produce the experience of the information overload I am buried in along with millions of other writers and readers.

There is just too much good and bad stuff to choose from when it comes to learning, growing and improving ourselves. So how in the heck do you make a rational choice on how to spend what precious time work and home life leaves you these days to try and beat the learning curve? Personally, I would like a practical guide of sorts. So I am going to create one for me and if it makes sense for you, then feel free to use it.

Here it is in the form of some truth principles you can brand on your brain to evaluate the value you will likely get from what you are trying to read or what you are trying to write.

1. First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Self-growth writers aren’t writing for you, they are writing for themselves. We writers have all these great ideas we think can change the world for the better and just have to put them out of our own heads before deadly implosion occurs. So, there really is no such thing as an audience, at least as the writer many know or intend to write for or to. Any significant connections are mostly by chance.

2. A self-help writer shouldn’t try to write something that he or she hasn’t actually experienced firsthand. It becomes too obvious to both the reader and the writer when this hands-on experience hasn’t been logged in real time. A writer simply can’t tell somebody else how to get out of a mess until the advice-giver has gotten out of about 100 terribly messy messes, all of a much different variety to have the needed credibility and practical solutions.

3. If a reader looks for relevant topics or familiar writers to narrow the search, then the serendipity principle of finding just the right information you need to know and use right now, will be lost. In my work, I write legal-like briefs to try and save my company money. Our attorney knew I was a hobby writer and gave me one of my most prized books on how to write anything. It changed my life, and I would have never found it on my own looking for it somewhere in between 50-70 million books.

4. Whenever in doubt about why I want to read something or write something, I like to pause and examine my main purpose in doing so. For this article my main purpose is to inspire others to think about what their purpose is in writing and reading self-growth information so it will provide an easy way to increase the meadows and decrease the mudfields.

5. Writers and readers of anything have a major challenge these days. There is too much knowledge available and not enough time to know it. Given the reality of an average person’s attention span of 30 seconds, there is no time to waste. So, if you don’t write or read something that can start working within this small window, all is lost. Of course the two-sided challenge here is to write with such fast and furious movement that the reader doesn’t notice time, and for the reader to work on the discipline to avoid being a victim of the Nano-second technology age, with a little stretch in attention and imagination patience.

6. As a reader and writer, I have gotten many e-mails from readers and I have written several e-mails to other authors. This intimate interpersonal interaction is what improves the writing and the reading and makes ideas come alive and more useful in the context they are most needed. As writers and readers, we all have an obligation to do what we can to help simplify the overload and improve the communications of good ideas to make life better for us all, with more meadows and less mudfields. The end game involves readers knowing they have understood and correctly applied the ideas, and writers need to know the understand-ability and value of their ideas.

7. Reading and writing are both a science and an art requiring great effort to master. This means you can’t ever stop too long to rest along the way. Writers need to read more and readers need to begin to write, to move the whole process along. And the interaction between the two is the real key to real self-growth that sticks and makes a difference.

“Reading, like writing, is a creative act. If readers only bring a narrow range of themselves to the writing, then they'll only see their narrow range reflected in it.” ~Ben Okri.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or