Learning From a "Classic"

Kevin Mahoney

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#1
A few months ago someone recommended that I read Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. In the past, I have always stayed away from this book because of the age (first published in 1936) and the title rubbed me the wrong way. I envisioned that the book was geared toward the “snake oil salesman” type. I could not have been more wrong.

I am about a quarter of the way through the book and I have really been blown away by several things. First, I am very surprised how little people and their challenges have changed in the past 80 years. The people Carnegie used as examples were largely unknown to me but the insight these historical figures had into human nature is noteworthy. Second, I am surprised that despite observations from reputable figures such as Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Swab concerning the importance of avoiding harsh leadership tactics, for many, these practices have continued on for hundreds of years (at least in Ben Franklin’s case).

While certain culture things have changed, some for good and some for bad, since the first writing of How to Win Friends and Influence People, human beings and what they value has not.

Do you think there is value in reading the older personal growth “classics”?

Do you think men and woman of today can learn things of value from historical figures?
 
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#2
Thanks Kevin for mentioning this wonderful book.

I had read this book long ago. And yes, its really a great book.

And more amazing is what you have pointed out: "very surprised how little people and their challenges have changed in the past 80 years."

Yeah, reading classics are always helpful. The reason being the fundamental problems of life have not changed. If you see the "religious books". They are thousand of years old. May be people even don't "really" know who, why and how someone, few people wrote them, still millions of people read them , get inspiration and try to mold their life according to the teachings.

We may have new gadgets and technical stuffs (which in next 50 years will look too primitive), 50 years or 100 years or even thousand year before, people also had something "new technically modified" things, but almost had same problems of mind , body and soul ( can call it in anyway - unconscious/subconcious mind,sanskara, universal mind ).

Regards
 
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#3
I think it's a bit rare that old books age well enough to be as useful as How to Win Friends and Influence People is nowadays, but there certainly is plenty of material that is pretty much timeless. I've been reading up a little bit about Stoicism in recent months, and it always blows me away when Stoic philosophers from over 2000 years ago talk about the same issues, fears, and problems that a lot of us deal with these days. They obviously frame it under their language at the time, but the underlying thoughts (dealing with the unpredictability of the world, how to be in control of yourself, our main sources of unhappiness, etc.) remain the same.

That being said, while there are classics that are very useful, I would rather read a more contemporary book instead since it sometimes takes a bit of work (for me, at least) to put the material I'm reading into a context that would work for what I'm looking for.