Monday, April 21, 2014

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and HappinessThe Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The slight edge concept is very simple: do the small things consistently to win in the long run.  Yet, this simple advice, as the book points out, is just as easy to NOT do and it is TO do.  That is how we get a 200 page book from a one-line philosophy.  I found most of his additional insights helpful in considering how I might apply the slight edge, and I especially liked the last chapter where he has you write down exactly how you are going to use the material.  Isn't that what most book lack?  A tie-in to actual application?

Unfortunately, he pushed about 7 areas for improvement, and not only is that just too big of a number, the areas are not even really distinct.  There is a lot of overlap.  I think three-- physical, mental and spiritually focused would have been enough for me.  Maybe, if you are inclined throw in an extra for professional development/personal finance or something.

At the end of the day, the challenge remains the same as with all other self-help books.  The content is there, and for all its weaknesses, has the power to affect your life in positive ways if practiced.  Yes, this book does have something of a workbook at the end, but the question remains:  Will you be able to apply the slight edge in your life?

3 stars-- I liked it, but nothing revolutionary about this.  If you are going to read 20 self help books this year, put this one on the list.  If you are going to read just one, pick something else.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L. Deci

Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-MotivationWhy We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation by Edward L. Deci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Again, I was assigned this book for reading for a class, and I have a mixed opinion. The content, meaning the ideas, concepts and implications of the author's message, is probably in the 4-5 star range. Deci's research showed very interesting things about what motivates us, and more importantly what doesn't. A few key points: rewarding someone for an activity they would have intrinsically enjoyed, results in them engaging in that activity less when the rewards are removed, even though they naturally enjoyed the activity. Parents, especially mothers, influence the level of materialism in children through the amount and type of attention they give, and as adults the materialism is expressed as undue attention on aspirations such as wealth. Finally, our relationships with our health care providers can be affected by the attitude and level of autonomy supported by the provider.

So on to the bad news. I don't know what editor signed off on this book, but they weren't thinking about the audience. With such interesting content to share, why did it have to be so blasted boring? Most of it read like a research paper. I understand that it was written by academics, and they can't help but include a heavy dose of "boring" into anything they write, but that is why I blame the editor. Just like a computer program that isn't user friendly isn't tolerated in the marketplace, no matter is usefulness, books should not be allowed on the printing press that haven't been checked for delivery. There are so many things that could have been done to get this message across, the presentation here is a one-star effort at best.

So, with all of this said, I will average this out to a cool 3 stars.