What do you do when a book shares a lesson or strategy you strongly disagree with?

I just finished listening to the best-seller book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie via Audible.com. While not typically considered controversial, the title of the book can provoke varying responses in people.

Do you want to “win” friends? Most people say, “I do not want to win friends. I do want to build wonderful friendships.” Other people may wonder, “Does ‘Influence People’ actually mean you are going to learn how manipulate others?

book-warning
When I first heard of the book two decades ago, I had similar reactions and questions. Then, I stop and ask myself, “Why am I creating unnecessary drama over a title or certain lessons in a book?” Unfortunately if someone wants to, a person can take the lessons from many books labeled as classics and misuse the concepts. If we never read a book that has aspects we don’t like, we’d miss the opportunity to question and grow from differing outlooks.

I try to find the golden nuggets in each book I read (assuming the book is well-written and I can at least enjoy the reading process). If the current lesson I’m reading in a book doesn’t fit my personal beliefs and/or approach, I stop and ask myself, “Why does this disagree with me? Am I being close-minded or is there a valid logic to why this specific lesson or message isn’t sitting well with me?

For example: in How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale shares how to use competition to motivate employees. While in the past I may agreed with that approach, my viewpoint has changed over the years. Competition can often lead to people continuously comparing themselves to the “other” team instead of focusing on the joy of their work. Long-term, competition can turn into a “us vs them” mentality.

By asking myself, “Do I believe competition is a good strategy for motivating my team?” I was able to have this discovery for myself. The result of reading that section of the book was a reinforcement in the belief that I want each member of The DATE SAFE Project excelling and thriving for the love of their own growth and discovery – for the individual to receive deep fulfillment from their efforts in helping spread our mission.

Sometimes we need disruption to help ourselves grow. Other times, your inner self is sending you an uncomfortable message because it wants you to avoid using a certain approach that is incongruent with your authentic self. The key is being open to that discovery and then making the choice that sits best with you