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?

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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

“Essentialism” is an Essential Read

EssentialismI’m back with one a book recommendation – this book is a new addition to my list of All-Time Favorites. Had I read this book back in March (my last post), you wouldn’t have seen such a long break between blogging. Here goes:

Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed or making excuses for why you are not getting something done? If so, Greg Mckeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is an essential read. Yes, I couldn’t resist the play on words. Wait. That comment was not essential. Move on.

As you may know from reading my blog, I love books that inspire you to dig deep into yourself AND provide you with skills and strategies for moving forward in the most positive direction possible.

Essentialism delivers at every level. As I dove into the book, I found myself writing more notes than ever before.  With the pages I was filling in my journal, you would have thought I was going to be tested on the material. My brain was spinning in multiple directions – full of excitement of how I would implement each specific lesson.

As I read further in the book, I had an epiphany! “Stop taking sooo many notes. Simply TAKE IN THE BOOK. Be present in its lessons.”

After all, this book is about “What is ESSENTIAL?” For the rest of the book, I took much less notes and found myself thinking more deeply. The results have been wonderful.

How has the book impacted me?

Right after reading the book, I was attending my favorite convention, PLATFORM (formerly known as the National Speakers Association). My history at the convention is to come home with pages of notes and ideas – only to implement a handful that truly stood out. By the end of this year’s convention, my notes were 1/5 their normal volume. Yes, I still attended as many sessions as possible. Ironically, the keynote speakers and breakout sessions were the best combination of experts, presenters, and content in all my years in the organization (a shout out to Dan Thurmon and Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman for organizing and running a sensational event). The greatly reduced note taking was a result of my asking the following question before writing something down, “Is this essential?”

Now imagine applying the same question to your personal life or slightly adapted question of “Based on my life priorities, is what I’m doing right now essential?”

For those who may be thinking, “That is a simple concept. Why read the book?” Essentialism opens our vision to how the failure to live by the essential question is currently impacting us – often in ways we are not aware and that are not positive. Then you are given specific tools to help you live by this philosophy and do so with less. The opportunity for profound transformation.

Treat yourself to this fantastic book!