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Mastering Self

Mastering Self: Three Reviews

I CAN IF I WANT TO, by Arnold Lazarus and Allen Fay

“We are not disturbed by things—external events—but by the views we take of them—our own perceptions.” So say the authors, and it’s the key point of the book—the key to changing behavior. In other words, it’s not what others say or do that makes us happy or unhappy, depressed or angry, but what we think about it. Our thoughts control our emotions and therefore our happiness and success in life. This book is about gaining control of those thoughts and emotions and therefore gaining control of your life. Included are a number of step-by-step solutions to help get you out of your rut and begin mastering your thoughts. The authors call it “self-management”—the idea that we are not victims but masters of own destinies and determine our life decisions. They emphasize that none of the solutions are automatic or easy, but take time and practice to bring results. “We can’t say this often enough: the major function of therapy is education,” writes the authors. “To have therapy sessions or to read self-help books without practicing and without doing homework assignments is like attending lectures at school without reading or studying. . . . Keeping a notebook, recording observations about your own thinking and behavior, and practicing new thinking and behavior are the best ways of changing.” This book is not long—118 pages—and the concepts offered are practical and easy to follow. Putting them into practice is up to you.

THE TRUSTED ADVISOR, by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford

This is a very good book--thoughtful, provocative, instructive. Having said that, there is nothing new here, nothing that hasn't already been said before, in "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie. Carnegie's book is the "Bible" on how to build trust, sell the right way, manage effectively, resolve disputes, have a better home life, and succeed in a highly-competitive and often hostile world. In the '80s, while working for a large mid-western company and assigned the task of changing the culture of our retail organization, I must have read a hundred books on selling, negotiating, problem solving, how to get along with the boss, management, dispute resolution, etc., etc., and the basics were all the same, and available in Carnegie's marvelous book. Having said that, I recommend this book. It's pointed—and shorter. It's filled with example after example on how to build trust--the cement of long-term client relations It gets to the heart of the matter: to be successful, you must learn how to listen effectively, be transparent in your motives, be flexible and open to change, be dedicated and driven, and most of all, be humble. Humility is the key to self-control. Final note: I’ve known people who’ve read book after book looking for some secret message that will enable them to leap tall buildings and achieve great success, career satisfaction, and personal achievement. They read books such as this one, ignore the timeless lessons, and move on to another book. Stop: what you're seeking is right here. This book has all the Dale Carnegie essentials: read it, study it, ponder it, and practice it.


How to get attention—that’s what this book is about. The advice is short, easy to follow and to the point, like the directions in a how-to-cook cookbook. That’s fine and well, except even baking a cake requires a fair amount of humility. And that’s the point of the book—it takes humility to become an effective speaker, humility, self-awareness, and a well-ordered mind. The author, Milo Frank, was a talent agent, as well as a director of talent and casting for CBS television—in Hollywood, a town not known for humility. In Tinsel Town attention spans are short. Indeed, heads of corporations—and very likely your boss—have short attention spans. If you have something to say, you’d better say it quickly and say it well, or forget about whatever it is you're after. In order to survive, Milo Frank spent a great deal of time preparing for very short presentations, because most people stop listening after 30 seconds. He also took the time to find out everything he could about the person to whom he was going to make his pitch. He took stock of himself, of what worked for him, and what didn’t. First impressions are lasting impressions. He learned to dress well, to maintain a positive attitude, and to prepare carefully before every presentation, to get his message across in however little time he was given. In short, he took nothing for granted, and learned not to waste other people’s time. These very qualities require humility, self-awareness, and a well-ordered mind. The fact that you're considering this book means you possess these qualities already, and are prepared to do what is necessary to become a more effective speaker. That's good, because you’ll find this book very useful, not just in how to make short, strong sales pitches, but in mastering your thoughts, in being a better listener, a better writer, and ultimately a better person. Humility brings out the best in us all.

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