9 July 2020
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Why do Aussies 'hate' the idea of self-improvement?

Peter Switzer
24 November 2017

What’s not to like about self-improvement? This is the question I asked myself when a colleague said she couldn’t stand US life coach or inspirational life-changer Anthony Robbins. Well, that all changed when she saw him interviewed on one of those US today-type shows.

“I really couldn’t stand that Tony Robbins,” she said. “Until I caught an interview with him — what a decent human being he seems to be.”

Of course, I bet there are those reading this who are saying right now: “That fast-talking Yank has conned another gullible person to buy what he sells — bullshit!”

That’s not exactly accurate but, given the state of Australian politics, I suspect a few of our top representatives, starting with Malcolm Turnbull, could do with a few coaching sessions with the redoubtable Robbins.

I have to confess that I have a pedigree that should have left me as a “typical Aussie” but life circumstances or happenstance forced me to have to deal with one of the biggest physical and personality-wise humans on the planet! And it wasn’t just Tony but a plethora of fast-talking Yanks from

Zig Ziglar to Jim Rohn to Jay Abrahams, Brian Tracey and many more who have convinced me that we all need an inspirational guru, who sets stretch goals and who shows you how to lift your game, just like a great coach does.

Who doesn’t want this for themselves and the people they lead and influence? The number would be relatively small and those poor souls would have mental challenges. Above all others, these people need a Robbins in their lives!

Anyone still not convinced about Robbins, who has been called on to help the likes of Bill Clinton, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams and even our own Hugh Jackman, check out his Ted Talk where he talks about the invisible forces that make us do what we do here , then you might start rethinking the value of someone who thinks about the things we don’t think about — but we should!

After that, go to Netflix and watch his “I’m not your guru” documentary, which shows you what he really tries to do in unleashing the caged giant that hovers inside all of us.

I think it’s fair to say that you might not like how he says what he says but the core of what he says screams “I am here to help you help yourself!”

There are other self-improvement influencers whom I have sometimes homed in on who help improve someone’s sales skills or their ability to build a business/brand. In all cases, however, it gets down to improving the person being taught or coached, such that they learn that good goals, great processes or systems and commitment bring not only better results but a more professional person.

And invariably it leads to a better person, who then realises the value of seeking out the really smart people, who’ve spent time thinking about stuff that makes us shoot for the sky.

Along my journey, which started in the 1980s when we started our economics coaching business that rolled into economics commentary for the Daily Telegraph that then rolled into my role Triple M’s political and economics commentator, while simultaneously being the editor-in- chief at

Australian Small Business magazine, I was lucky to learn from the following people and this is what I learnt:

  • Tom Hopkins: “The seven steps of successful selling include the prospecting, making a positive initial contact, qualifying potential clients, presenting or demonstrating your product, addressing concerns, closing sales and getting referrals.” What has stuck with me was his advice “Follow up like never before.”
  • Jay Abrahams: Always value the long-term relationship of a customer, which means a customer who complains and costs you money, if you win them back, could become a lifelong customer and advocate.
  • John Maxwell: “What’s your plan for self-improvement?”
  • Richard Branson: ““I have always lived my life by making lists of people, lists of ideas, lists of companies to set up and lists of people who can make things happen.”
  • Brian Tracey: Reminded me of what Winston Churchill advised: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” And there was: “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking: 'What's in it for me?”
  • Zig Ziglar, who did hundreds of free speeches until he was so good he was paid huge fees to show up at conferences, told me in an interview that: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” And then there was this funny pearl: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
  • And my personal favourite from Jim Rohn: “Work out what you want. Work out the price. Pay the price.”

These people have convinced me that self-improvement has more potential than self-unimprovement!

If you agree, commit to a You Plan and write down what you want. Determine the price — it might be time, money, reading, finding a coach or a mentor — and damn well pay the price, or else stop whinging about your life.

As William H. Johnsen told us: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

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