Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bright Sided Book Review and Time Saving Tip

My mom often acts as a personal clipping service. Saving articles she think would interest me. She clipped a Globe and Mail review of Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America".

The theory of the book is as the title suggests. Positive thinking is bad for us - not good for us as so many people promote (myself included). Her point is we deny the truth if we are too positive. We can also end up feeling guilty that "we must have thought negative thoughts to attract this to my life".

Her points are valid if positive thinking is used this way. She is not understanding how positive thinking should be used though. We can control our reaction to circumstance without denial or blaming ourselves. So I am advocating a logical "Positive Thinking" - no denial or guilt.

Positive Thinking does fail some people because they forget that it also takes doing to actually make things happen. This is the difference between goals and wishes. Wishing rarely works. Planning realistically and executing does.

And I would rather be positive because it feels better. And no one wants to be around a person who is grumpy and down. So I will keep my positive outlook.

I loved Ehrenreich's previous book - Nickel and Dimed even though many people did not. For that book, she went under cover and did a series of close to minimum wage jobs and reported on her experiences.

Critics of the book thought she was too shallow and because she allowed herself a safety net, she was falsely "representing" the poor. They felt she was not immersed in "poor". Her style was also quite political and anti business blaming the business people for most of the plights of the poor. Many people took exception to that.

I judge any book as great if it causes a permanent change in behavior and that book did for me. I never used to tip chamber maids in hotels and I have been doing that for years now as a result of reading the book.

One Time Saving Tip that ties with the personal clipping service: if you are in an industry that has lots of trade journals or want to stay up on business magazines but are finding it tough due to the number of them. Find a couple of friends in your business and each read just a few magazines and mark on the articles of interest. This makes it much faster and easier when it comes time to read. Just flip to the pages marked. This simple time saving tip can save hours.

I also find it stimulates discussion since we all have read the same articles.


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Keith Bossey said...

Hi Jim, your post reminds me of the saying, "hope for the best, plan for the worst". Its not about wishing, but I have rarely seen a strong leader who didn't have an optimistic view. Optimism allows us to see bigger and better things and that is what drives us forward.

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

Hello Jim. I enjoyed reading your blog. I just discovered it today. I believe that optimism is often times the only thing or the at least the first thing people expect from their leaders. If if the answers are not there, at least optimism shows there is hope. My blog can be found at if you are interested. Thanks

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I actually just wanted to say thank you for the great and time management tip of getting others in the same industry to divide and conquer on all that reading material that overwhelms so many of us. I see stacks and stacks of magazines and other industry-related publications that professionals swear they will get to "someday" but of course, if they don't make the time now, they probably never will. Great tip!

At 7:38 AM, Anonymous Octavian Radu said...

Living in Romania, I met Americans (plenty of them, through YPO) only few years ago... I thought: "this guys are soooo positive ! From being all the day so positive, they need for sure in the evening a handfull of antidepressants".

I am a very positive person, I am sure that success is related to optimism and laugh and openness... But, as usual, to much is not healthy !

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Monica Diaz said...

Ehrenreich is not alone in believing positive thinking is akin to denial. It can be. And many simplistic approaches (or simplistic interpretations of deeper approaches) invite magical thinking into the equation. It is really not about that as you well know. You can certainly be in denial without positive thinking involved. But you do always have a choice on how you react to circumstances and face consequences of your previous choices. Positive thinking there tends to lead to action and exploration of possibilities for improvement. Feeling good about oneself is energizing. So is valuing others. Reality check need not bring you down and positive thinking need not sink you in obscurity. Its still up to you!

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous David said...

It's about using a little time for some meditation and while you are doing it think positively. Do this at the start of the day and you will set yourself up.



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