Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wake Up and Live! by Dorthea Brande

Wake Up and Live!Wake Up and Live! by Dorthea Brande
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this one up for a book club that I'm in, and I wasn't expecting what I found. First of all the turn of the century voice was a surprise. Second, the need to instruct the survivalist Depression-era generation to get disciplined was also a surprise. In my mind that is what defined them. Guess not. You learn something every day.

So for me, this was a good book, with good basic advice. The concept of the Will to Fail, at first felt heavy, but it is clear that we all have self-defeating habits and after some examination, we probably have many more than we realize. Brande promotes taking action, creating personal discipline and above all: acting as if you can not fail.

And that, I think, is what brings it all together for me. Written in 1936, failure was rampant, and the need to lift up your head and have faith in the future was huge. How we view that generation now is colored by the outcomes: we pulled together what resources we had and fought an awful war in the process. But they had to learn and find their way. And now it is our turn. I feel that if there was ever a generation that needs to learn the necessity of personal discipline, it is my generation. The theme of acting as if you cannot fail is not as important, since many of my peers feel entitled to a life of success and luxury, failures already come as a shock. Discipline would prompt hard work that might give energy to the can't fail concept. Without it, "acting like I can't fail" turns quickly into "who is going to bail me out now that I failed".

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes EverythingThe Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wish there would have been more content on discovering what your element is. Each story he used had the benefit of hindsight, obviously. Sure, if you look in the past of a successful person, there are likely to be points where they found something they were naturally good at, that they enjoyed doing, and that they found a way to make enough money doing it to survive, or even thrive. But what about those that spent their whole life searching for that thing they enjoyed and were naturally gifted at? Other than just wandering around, what common activities or strategies did the successful people employ to identify their element?

Overall I liked this book. It is motivating to hear of the possibilities in life when one finds one's element. The self-examination that follows is helpful in a personally strategic sense, but falls a little flat when you step back and realize that in some cases this thought pattern might just lead you to a mid-life crisis. I think that more time could have been spent on the journey to discovering your element. Perhaps it was there and I missed it, but the desire to know how to discover my element is what I'm walking away from this book with.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz

Winning Every DayWinning Every Day by Lou Holtz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book read a little bit like a script for a motivational speaking engagement. Quirky crowd pleasing football stories scattered among broad statements about positive thinking and work ethic. Good think I like motivational speaches.

Holtz's content felt a little worn out in this day and age. Yeah, yeah, my attitude determines my altitude in life. Hard work, goal setting and accountability are important. I know already.

What I like about this book was less about the content and more about the voice it carried. Holtz's non-entitled, the buck stops here attitude is refreshing, and a little eye-opening. He take complete responsibility for his actions, and expects others to do the same. How different this world would be if we hadn't lost those values as a society. So the content was unimpressive, and the delivery mediocre, but the voice and the man behind the message: he makes this a pretty solid recommendation to my kids, and to the future generations. We need to remember what our grandparents went through and stop whining about social injustice and government spending/programs. First we should work hard and embrace every opportunity to feed and clothe ourselves and our families, and put a roof over our heads. Then, if there is any time left, we can think about the social ills of society.

I will say that I don't know if Lou would agree with that statement, but through the lens of my generation, that is what I got from his book, and I found it very valuable.