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SELF-HELP

Definition of the word of the week (SELF-HELP): The act of improving oneself without assistance from others

There is an old saying that God helps those who help themselves. This does not mean that everyone should be out for himself. Rather, it recognizes that we cannot help someone who does not want to be helped. The individual is always a major part of the equation.

Susan Powter is a good example of someone pursuing self-help. In the 1990’s, she was a self-help sensation, led many motivational seminars and wrote the best selling book Stop the Insanity! Her white buzzcut hairstyle and high energy made her easy to recognize but it was her personal success story of overcoming adversity that was most compelling. After her husband left her, she became addicted to alcohol and gained excessive weight. Then, she decided to help herself. As a single mother of two, she quit drinking and lost over 130 pounds. This success led to a career in motivational speaking and in fitness instruction. However, none of this success would have been possible until she decided to help herself.

Self-help is a challenge for those in the education field as well. How can a teacher educate a student who does not want to succeed? As the old saying goes, the teacher can “lead the horse to water but cannot make him drink.”

Some students choose to play video games or play other games when they should be doing their homework. Then, when they get substandard grades for substandard academic performance, who do you think they blame? Clearly, this is not the teacher’s fault. Students must want to succeed in order to excel. Students must do their part or we all suffer the consequences.

As the Indian Prime Minister, Morarji Desai, once said, “Self-help must precede help from others. Even for making certain of help from heaven, one has to help oneself.” We have all been helped by other people have helped us over the years and we should endeavor to help others whenever we can. However, in order to succeed in life, we must also choose to help ourselves.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

God loves to help him who strives to help himself. Aeschylus, Greek poet

The only way to help yourself is to help others. Elbert Hubbard, Writer

Help yourself, and Heaven will help you. Jean de La Fontaine, Poet

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said that if she told me it would defeat the purpose. Steven Wright, Comedian

COL Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone at 478-445-2710 or by email at pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us.