Self-help and motivational books have their place. There are people who lack clarity regarding their life. They require some advice, pointers. Larry Winget, a so-called guru in the personal development world, has written a book that endeavors to give out this advice — People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It. He chose such a jarring title to get attention. He wanted you to notice his book and read it, if for no other reason than to prove you aren't an idiot. Is the attention warranted? Will you learn anything from Larry's book that will improve your life? Is it worth inclusion in your personal library? Let's see.
His basic premise is this: you complain that you want more money — how much more and what are you doing to achieve that goal? You want to be healthier — why are you still wasting the money you say you want on cigarettes? The fact that you don't have a specific goal or a plan to reach it or that you engage in contrary actions makes you an idiot. His purpose is in telling us all this is to motivate us to alter our lives. We do need goals and plans in life and must take action to achieve them. To help in achieving them, he's seeded his book with numerous lists that are designed to help you analyze your (apparently) idiotic life.
You won't read anything you don't already know, and Winget tells you that right away. He's not endeavoring to wow people with some new method for success; he's simply imparting what should be common sense. In that regard, the book is useful. It gives good, solid, basic tenets people can live by. You need to be ready to wade through a load of bloviated copy to discern what he's saying, though. Yes, he's definitely got the copywriting style down well. He sounds just like an infomercial — one that you'd be an idiot for listening to.
After about the first third of the book you will understand what he's getting at: take action, don't complain. Great. Then he just keeps saying it. Over and over and over. After so much repetition, you stop listening. Unfortunately, that's not the only reason to stop listening.
Did you know that Winget has written a number of other books about success? Or that he's had a TV show? Or that he used to own his own business? You will after reading this book. When he's not telling you how stupid you are he's talking about himself. I got sick of hearing about Larry, Larry, Larry. On page sixty-seven he notes: "People have overcome much bigger obstacles than I have to become more successful than I am." It would have been more effective to inject some of those other experiences rather than just discuss his own — repeatedly. He wants to be better than everyone and wants you to know it. It's his way of inspiring us, but it's more insipid than inspiring.
But that self-centeredness fits with the basic motif of the book. Winget, like many other 'self-help' types, wants people to be a success and to them success is attaining wealth. In the majority of his lists, financial goals are at the top and spiritual and family goals are towards the end. Generosity is often just an afterthought in this book. He's not the only offender, either, I think. To me, it feels like the book advocates a very superficial way of living, one centered on yourself and your money and health.
I didn't like his absolute approach, either. What about the refugees of the world? They have no real control over their lives. Are they idiots, too, because they haven't achieved the success they desire? I'm sure they all want a better home and better food — but there they are, living in squalor.
But the real killer was on page 111: "I could trot all that happy feel-good stuff out on the stage and get a standing ovation with the best of them. I could blow smoke up your skirt and make you just lover your little pitiful self to pieces. I did it for years, was really good at it and made a lot of money doing it. The problem was that it wasn't authentic for me to be that way." So, he was just telling people what they wanted to hear — for money. It's almost an admission to lying.
There was one bit of good advice that all should take, including Winget: "Don't prattle on with nothing to say just because you like to hear yourself talk." Why? The "audience has quit listening."
And, just for kicks, here's a list of synonyms for the word 'idiot.' For a guy who is so insistent that people use good grammar and such, Winget should have seasoned his copy with some of these words instead of just throwing 'idiot' around all higgedly-piggedly. Simpleton, nincompoop, booby, fool, bungler, dope, dullard, half-wit, ignoramus, imbecile, mooncalf, moron.