I’m increasingly in the habit of reading business books, but it does strike me that they resemble self-help books in more ways than they’d care to admit.

While at first glance they sell themselves on their hard-headedness, their possession of the Answers, the Way, in fact they’re astonishingly touchy-feely. Chapter after chapter that begins by promising to tell you HOW TO ends up by commiserating with you over the fact that actually you’re just an ink-stained clerk and there’s no way you’ll actually affect your work life in any way.

Still, though, we can dream – and this is where both types of book enter the same playground. Both paint big pictures of what you could be: the razor-sharp CEO in the penthouse office or the confident, well-adjusted individual whom everyone loves. Each poses ideal behaviours and thought processes for you to adopt to get there. Each aims to inspire rather than to guide.

At base, I suppose, both are there to provide support and morale for problems which you can’t solve by yourself and which you’re probably too embarrassed to talk to anyone about. Both, though, are ultimately useless if you don’t actually put any of their ideas into action. And both, by the very fact that they exist, reassure you that you are not alone, that others share your inabilities – but reassurance is the enemy of action.


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