The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon is probably the most sappy self-help book I’ve read so far, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Different folks need to different paths and scenery on their journey to contentment and self-actualization. I tend to lean towards the grittier, self-empowering, do it your own damned self type of growth, but this book definitely has an audience and place in the growth and empowerment world.
Gordon’s book is a lot more upbeat, and his whole argument is presented as a parable-type narrative. The main character, George, is having a rough time of it. His career is in the crapper, his marriage is suffering, and to top it all off, he has to put his car in the shop and use public transportation to get to and from work.
But his life begins to change soon after taking a few rides on the Energy Bus, driven by the aptly named Joy. She and the other passengers present George ten rules to help him be a more positive person.
It’s a fun, quick read (or listen) and can be inspiring.
This isn’t my first time reading The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane. I read it last year, but when our Leadership Training group at work chose this book to read, I was happy to pick it up once more. This time, instead of reading the physical book, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lisa Cordileione.
Charisma is a skill. And being a skill, that means that Charisma can be learned and practiced. That’s the main point of this book. It defines charisma and gives helpful suggestions and even provides exercises on how to better improve your charismatic potential, thus improving other skills such as communication and leadership.
The pace and content can feel a bit dry at times, but it’s good information. I think this is a solid foundational text for self-growth and even mindfulness.
The Man on the Mountaintop is an audible original adaptation of a trilogy written by Susan Trott and performed by a host of narrators including Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones. The full cast performance makes this story/parable/tale of enlightenment quite engaging and sweet. It’s a comfortable reprieve from the past few books of harder, more abrasive types of self help.
The story is about an holy man who goes by “Old Man Joe.” Surprisingly, he indeed does live on the top of a mountain in a little hermitage, along with seasonal live-in monks. During the warmer months, people from all over the world come and hike the long path up the mountain and to the hermitage to meet the holy man and gain wisdom from him. The book goes through several pilgrims’ perspectives of meeting the holy man, before launching into a more cohesive story about the holy man’s personal journey to find a replacement for when he dies.
There are a few times where my own philosophies disagree with the wisdom that the holy man doles out, but overall, there’s a peace to this story that gives the reader (or listener) something to strive towards.
Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George Thompson, PhD is the next growth book I read this year. It’s a bit more of a “classic” self-improvement book, seeing how it first published back in 1993. Thompson himself, passed away in 2011, leaving behind a verbal judo legacy. This newest audio edition is narrated by Keith Szarabajka (Donatello the Prophet to you Supernatural fans).
Thompson lead quite a full life, or multiple lives, if you want to think of it that way. He was a professor, a cop, and then a professional speaker/consultant. He’s got the experience and know-how to back up what he says, and he doesn’t let you forget about it.
Ego aside, this book can teach valuable lessons on how to persuade and discuss difficult situations. It shows you how to both listen and speak more effectively and explains the real value of empathy. Thompson also gives a good thorough list of dos and don’ts when it comes to classic argument, so that you can communicate successfully.
Though heavily geared towards law-enforcement type situations, the general argument presented in this book is compelling and useful to the everyday. It definitely made me rethink my approach to communication in different situations.
When I started my 2019 journey, I made a promise to consume more meaningful content in order to promote my personal growth. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share this relentless pursuit of self-improvement and joy to the world at large. So I’m adding a somewhat new feature to the blog: Book reviews.
Bishop doesn’t hold the punches in this book. It’s no nonsense, and the advise is practical. The main premise of the book is that we, as human beings, are wired to win. We just have to figure out what it is we’re winning at. Is it something that you don’t really want to win at? Well, you’ve got to change your narrative and stop being your own worst enemy.
This is a self-care book for people who are put off by the more spiritual, “hippy dippy” kind of self-care. It’s a good nudge for people who might balk at the genre in general, but because it has a edgy title, they may be more likely to give it a try. And even though the author disparages the adage of “Just think positive thoughts,” the message kinda boils down to that anyway, but in a way that’s less cheerleadery and more real.
It’s a positive attitude kick in the pants.
Most of the self-improvement books I read, I actually listen to. Narrators can make or break an audiobook. Unfu*k Yourself was no exception. It’s read by the author, who is Scottish, and that gives it an extra bit of gruff awesomeness. Bishop’s voice is unique in the world of audiobook narration and kept my attention for sure. And at only 3 hours and 23 minutes, it’s a quick listen.