“A man only learns in two ways; one by reading and the other by association with smarter people.”
With this quotation from Will Rogers, I would like to react to Mr. Moses Opobo’s article that appeared in The New Times of March 03, 2013 under the headline “To hell with motivational books.’’ With all due respect, I found Opobo’s ideas in this article too harsh and hurting, especially to our society where the reading culture is almost non-existent. Contrary to his views on motivational books, I find them as pearls of wisdom and relevant as authors share their personal experience and empirical facts with the wider audience.
Accordingly, reading such books is key to improving our personal welbeing. There is immense knowledge to be derived from learning from the experiences of others and by so doing, we become better with each passing day and become better friends, professionals, lovers, executives, and parents, just to mention a few.
Anyone who has read some motivational books including; Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (RIP), Gifted Hands by Ben Carson, Secrets Of Super Achievers by Philip Baker, Pathway To Purpose by Anthony Githonga, and Imitation is Limitation by John Mason, will testify to the fact that books have a transformational effect for the better.
I don’t know whether Mr. Opobo has a problem with motivational books or with the fact that they have evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry as he put it.
Either way, I find blaming motivational books and motivational speakers as condemning a sign-post that guides you to a destination where it has never been itself. But its dutiful purpose is to guide the users to the destination. Similarly, motivational books, like other books, are a source of knowledge and the benefits from such books are dependent on how the reader/recipient applies and puts such knowledge to use. The truth of the matter is that motivational books cannot perform miracles; neither can motivational speakers.
Also, it is imperative to note that as human beings are different, so are their interests, goals and focus. So, before you buy that book or pay for that motivational seminar, you need to know if it resonates with your own aspirations. For the book, you can easily browse through the blurb to get the key thematic concerns it addresses and as for the seminar, you can find out about the presenter, their own experiences, education, values, philosophy, just to mention a few.
This is fundamental because like in all other circumstances, different people have different tastes, aspirations, preferences and focus in life. As such, not all motivational books can appeal to all people across the board.
For example, someone less interested in business ventures would find reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki less motivating and not appealing because they do not have any business plugs to spark off. Otherwise, it is unfair to condemn motivational books and book industry.
I have encountered a number of friends who testify how their lives have been impacted after reading X, Y books. In fact, some people call motivational books an adrenaline booster; others call them spark-plugs in life.
Generally, books are sources of knowledge that no one can dispute. Different people experience different and diverse views about life and sharing their experiences encourages and motivates us to move on.
There are times we just feel like giving up on a task or endeavour and are ignited by reading and coming into contact with books and materials from people that experienced such things we are going through. We are able to learn how they were able to manage such issues and triumph over them.
As humans, we need to keep learning every day. We owe ourselves a responsibility to continue and constantly improve on who we are professionally, socially or otherwise. There is no way we can become better if we don’t learn and there is no way we can learn if we don’t read.
There are no shortcuts as the key to wisdom and greatness lies in reading books. There is an unwritten rule that we acquire experience through sharing with the experienced. Currently, there abound quite a number of motivational books on various topics and all facets of human endeavours to help us learn and implement positive ideas that we have learnt.
All in all, we need to know that God created the world out of wisdom, knowledge and understanding and as we are created in his own image, we need to seek more wisdom, knowledge and understanding to make the world a better place.
Part of this wisdom that we need can only be obtained through books and sharing with the experienced. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we have more and more authors willing to share their experiences and knowledge as we strive to build a culture of reading until such a time when Africa, in general, and Rwanda, in particular, will never be referred to as a literally desert.
The writer is and educationist, author and publisher.