Monday, November 22, 2010

My journey into self-help

"You Already Know How to Be Great," that sounds like such a simple statement. If I already know what to do, why haven't I done it already? Why am I not living the life I dreamed of, or at least close to it? I'm sure there are several reasons, which is why I decided to read You Already Know How to Be Great by Alan Fine (with Rebecca R. Merrill).

My thinking going in, was that self-help books were for people going through a mid-life crisis, the over-40 set. I'm not a total convert to self-help books, but I know some of the things in this book could definitely help me.

The overall concept is rather simple, improvement upon yourself or your situation doesn't come from gaining new knowledge, but rather from within. But what's within is often blocked, or as Fine calls it -- interference. Something or even someone is blocking you from being better than what you are. If you have no faith in your own abilities, how can you be better. Or as some of the examples set forth in the book, what if someone is holding you back. If a coach is simply coaching an athlete to win, rather than improving their performance or setting goals, that athlete is going to have a hard time getting better.

What must one possess to remove the interference? Faith in yourself and others, something that is very hard to find in my own life. I often don't have faith in myself, so I automatically think I can't do something. I just stop trying, because what is the point? Second, you need to have Fire, the passion and commitment to do something. I'm passionate about my blogging, everywhere else needs some work. And lastly, you need to Focus, keep the commitment and pay attention to it. I'm easily distracted, again something I need to work on.

How do you get to have that Faith, Fire, and Focus? According to Fine, you have to GROW. Again that sounds simple enough. But how you get there isn't always easy. You have to set a Goal, be Realistic with that goal, have Options on obtaining that goal, and have a Way to move forward with that goal. Also in order to move forward, you have to take ownership of that interference using an inside-out approach, essentially you can't blame someone else for what is going wrong.

You have to plan out your course of action and really listen before moving forward, which makes a lot of sense. But some of the examples set forth in this book seem very realistic and some don't. One example is how to deal with a difficult employee with sub-par performance reviews. The conversation between the two didn't sit well with me. The superior is trying to get at the source of the problem, while the employee continues to be belligerent. How many employers would put up with that? Would they really still speak calmly or would they start to get angry themselves? On the other hand, Fine's own personal experiences rang true with me. His business partner was not holding his own, and Fine was reluctant to have a conversation with him. But the conversation was necessary. How does he get his point across without coming off as judgmental? Most importantly, Fine listened and the two of them worked together to move forward.

The book does focus a lot on coaching others, but I like that Fine stresses at the beginning to use the book however you want. My goal right now is to find a new job. But I admit, I haven't set a goal or really focused on what I want to achieve. What's blocking me right now is my own fear, the fear of failure. I have some ideas, and once I let go of that fear, I think I will be alright.

Rating: If you need an emotional lift, definitely read this book because it can help. Normally I go by a certain scale when I rate a book, but this is one of those times when I have to go off grid. I don't view this as reading for entertainment, so I felt the need to go in a different direction.

Notes: I received a copy of this book from the author's publicist in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Alan Fine visit:

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