Category Archives: Recommended Books

The importance of a mentor and networking for helping you in your career


Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of having a mentor or a life coach, as well as a good network to help you get on a good career path. It’s something I’ve never though of before, because I thought I could just work really hard and be independent to get ahead. I’m quickly learning that it’s not so easy, and that the viewpoints and help from others can really help launch us into the right direction.

I bought this book Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out a while back because the story sounded really impressive! The author claims that he was a millionaire before he turned 14, and he has a long list of major companies and networks that recommend his books and commend his achievements. Wow! Now that is someone I can learn from, right? After doing some internet searches, I’m learning that his background story might be a little shaky, so I’m reading the book with a critical eye; however, even if the stories are exaggerated, there are some good tips that I have heard from other recognized professionals and career coaches. Judging by his Facebook followers and book sales, he’s doing something right!

One of the book’s chapters is specifically about building a mentoring team, and a later  chapter is about networking, which is another career idea I’m reading a lot about lately. One of my favorite career advice sites Classy Career Girl promotes the same ideas and that writer’s background is really impressive as well, (and verified.) I hope to take one of her coaching courses one day, because she really knows what she is doing. She emphasizes the power of networking, and Gray in particular writes about his mentor who helped him get started and pointed him in the wrong direction. When Gray was a kid, he used to call his mentor for help and advice–and that advice helped make him rich without taking anything other than time from a mentor who was happy to help him. So between these two writers, as well as other sources, I’m really starting to see how important mentors and networking are–far more helpful than just throwing out resumes and trying to do everything alone.

Some ideas I’m learning that never crossed my shy, independent mind before:

It’s okay to reach out and ask for advice or help.

It’s good to reach out and find others who can work with you towards inter-working goals.

It’s smart to watch what your career idols do and learn from them.

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

So much of moving ahead in your career and your life is about learning from others, working with others, and helping others. But, it’s important to get out there and learn from the right people who are connected where you want to be connected. If I want to be a movie star, then networking with UPS drivers, or seeking advice from a math teacher might not help so much.

So, I’ve been trying this with others who are working in areas to where I want to work. I started reaching out to people that I admire, and sincerely letting them know how helpful they were, and what I appreciated about their work. I let one person know that I enjoyed her insight, and asked a couple others to help share the word about the home business I’m trying to get off the ground. It worked! I saw a HUGE difference in my business views and revenue. And it was all sincere. I didn’t go looking for someone to help me. I reached out to others whose ideas I was already a fan of. I basically opened my mouth to express my positive thoughts instead of keeping them to myself. What a learning experience! Plus, I feel good, as though I’m part of a community.

Since I’m naturally shy and introverted, asking for help and turning to others is foreign to me, but I’m really seeing and believing how important it is. There are paths to success out there, and it’s so important to be open-mined to learning from others who went before us or are going the same way now.

Considering the power of your words to make or break you

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Usually, I wait to finish a book before I review it, but some books have single chapters or sections that just really stand out. I’m about half way through this book and I am very glad I bought it. I’ve blogged a few times about the power of our words to raise or lower or moods, but this book goes beyond that. It is a really in depth analysis of a variety of ways that words–written, spoken or thought–effect our lives–our reputations, our treatment of others, our moods, our futures, and more. Just the first chapter had me underlining a ton of wise points!

The first chapter is an overview of what is coming in the rest of the book, and is titled “The Impact of Words.” One example is a lady who is kind and thoughtful with the “amazing ability to help people feel good about themselves.” Unfortunately, she slips up with her words one day and criticizes her boss publicly, which destroys her career growth. I don’t know how true this story is, but it really got me to thinking. One, the thought of a person who can find the positive and help people feel good is a very good thought! I’d rather be that person than a grump. Two, how true that one poorly thought-out conversation or even one misunderstanding can throw us off track. The example really emphasizes the importance of thinking before speaking, (something I am not too good at doing!) I know, that is a lesson we’ve probably all heard, but I wonder how many of us can truly, truly embrace it to consider how important our words are? The book got me thinking immediately…and made me think about what I want to improve in my own life.

Now a warning…this author is a Christian, and the importance of Godly speech is a recurring theme in this book. I personally do not find it annoying because she works it in so well and there is genuine wisdom in between the Bible verses. She isn’t using the verses to force her ideas; she is giving really good advice and then adding the verses. The things she has to say can be appreciated even if you aren’t religious, but I want to give that notice for people who may not enjoy religious books. I feel like she uses the Bible in a way that is not overpowering, in my opinion.

Another good bit of advice right near the beginning: Meyers talks about a problem in her life that she kept getting stuck on. She’d talk about it and it consumed her thoughts, then she realized that “if I wanted to get over it, I was going to have to stop mentally and verbally going over it again and again.” More good advice! I can’t count how many times I have made myself miserable by dwelling on things I can’t change. It’s pointless. As she says, “where the mind goes, the man follows.”

Another good quote is “We all have challenges in life, but we can make them better or worse by the way we talk about them.” So true! She continues that “speaking negatively could hurt you, but speaking positively never will, so why not go with the positive and see what kind of results you get?” Good point! And I’m even skipping a bunch of underlined quotes because there are so many in the first chapter alone!

I read a lot of books and learn so many good things, but this one honestly has me excited and I’ve been telling friends to read it. It is filled with good ideas and wise advice for being more productive, more positive, happier, more successful and more of a help to others instead of a drag. Plus, this book is almost 300 pages, and so far, none of them are wasted. I look forward to reading more of her books if they are beneficial as this one.

Success in business or relationships isn’t just about hard work or skills

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I’ve blogged before about learning to promote myself to get better jobs, because working really hard but being invisible was not helping me succeed. It’s an important lesson to learn! And it’s reality…often the best workers are not the ones who move up the corporate ladder because our charisma, self-promotion and connections matter more than just working quietly.

I keep this book by my bed and read a few pages every once in a while. There’s a lot of good information, so I try not to overwhelm myself by reading it all at once. I want to really think about the ideas and focus on the ones that speak to me. The book basically has 365 short paragraphs with tips on how to improve your chances of getting rich in business–and a lot of them are more about your personal qualities.

Tip number 233 stood out to me today. It says:

In a personal service business, our fees will usually rise in accordance with your self-esteem and not necessarily in accordance with your level of skill or results.

I know this is true, because I’ve lived it! We have to sell ourselves in business or careers to get people to believe in us. How can they have faith in our abilities if we don’t have faith in them ourselves? And how can they notice us if we don’t show off a little? I wrote in that previous blog about how I tried that, and got noticed by my department’s director. It worked and it was surprisingly easy!

But I also want to think about this in terms of relationships–not just with bosses or clients, but with others. For those of us looking to date, do men really want a woman who puts herself down and minimizes her good points? Or do they want a woman who isn’t afraid to shine? I’m not talking about bragging, but about being confident. How many of us single ladies have wonderful, loving qualities to share, but keep missing out on good relationships because no one knows what we have to offer? Or how about friendships? If we hide our strengths and put ourselves down, are we going to find good, healthy friends? Or within our families…do our relatives respect us less than they do our cousins because we don’t love ourselves? This book may relate to the business world, but I consistently find that the tips relate to living a fuller, happier life in general.

All of the parts of our lives work together to create a whole person–a person who is fulfilled and confident…but always learning how to improve. That’s what Life as You Make It is about–reaching our potential and our best lives!

10 Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives–book review


Click here to purchase Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives

A lot of women make poor choices to keep a man around or to avoid being alone. (Been there, done that!) Being alone is scary, and when you don’t have a lot of money, it’s hard to make it on your own sometimes. A lot of women get trapped by these types of fears and waste their time in bad relationships. I bought this book when I was in an abusive marriage and I was trapped by these thoughts. I was scared to go out on my own, to live on my own, to be alone. I thought I couldn’t make enough money to pay my bills without a partner. I thought I’d be sad and lonely without someone to come home to. I thought being miserable was a less scary choice than being alone. WRONG! This no-nonsense book helped knock some sense in to me. Yes, it was still lonely and scary to leave and be by myself, but it got much easier. In fact, now I like being single.

The chapter titles in this book are:

1. Stupid Attachment
2. Stupid Courtship
3. Stupid Devotion
4. Stupid Passion
5. Stupid Cohabitation
6. Stupid Expectations
7. Stupid Conception
8. Stupid Subjugation
9. Stupid Helplessness
10. Stupid Forgiving

Dr. Laura gives sensible and practical advice explaining why we all of the above choices are not healthy for us, (or our children.) Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections of a couple paragraphs to a couple pages each, so it’s easy to read a little at a time without getting lost. Here are some of the main ideas: You don’t need a man to define you, you don’t have to lower your standards to keep one around, you should not let one back in your life after he abuses you, you should not let one hurt your kids or prevent you from being a good mother. The point is you can be strong on your own and keep your dignity instead of degrading yourself for a pseudo relationship. Dr. Laura encourages you to be strong and have good boundaries and self-respect…and hold out for good relationships. She also brings up important questions about why we would end up in bad relationships in the first place–what needs are we trying to fill? I think this is a good book for those of us who have settled for less than we wanted or deserved in the past!

How having meaning in your life is more important than happiness

I read an article in Reader’s Digest today about happiness and having meaning in your life. The title was “Happiness: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” Ouch! The moral of the article is that happiness is fleeting and there are other qualities in life that are more important in the long run. At first I was not completely convinced, but I did find some interesting information. After reading the short article, I agree that the writers do have some good points.

The article was based on a 1946 book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl who was a well-known psychiatrist. I just ordered a copy after reading the article, so I’ll report back on it! It sounded interesting.

Click here to purchase Man’s Search for Meaning

Frankl wrote the book about his experiences in a concentration camp after his pregnant wife and most of his family died, but he did not. He noticed some patterns in those who managed to live through the ordeal. To quote Reader’s Digest, “those who found meaning in even the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not.” For example, Frankl counseled two men out of committing suicide by helping them realize they still had purpose in life. He stated “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

As for happiness, RD refers to research that shows having a purpose in life increases well-being and satisfaction, and decreases depression, while chasing just happiness decreases one’s level of happiness! They theorize that simply looking for happiness leads to shallow feelings while pursuing meaning gives more lasting and deeper joy in the long run.

This could be because happiness is related on momentary feelings that will end, while finding and pursuing meaning in your life is a lasting goal. To quote, “people who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rated their satisfaction with life higher–even when they were feeling bad–than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose.”

It seems that happiness comes and goes in bursts while meaning and purpose lead to ongoing, steady satisfaction. Something to think about!

The importance of a good support system for your mental health


Click here to purchase Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren’t
I am currently reading this book, and while I haven’t finished yet, (and I still want to review the book when I get done,) I specifically wanted to share an interesting section I read last night. In chapter five, the authors discuss the relation between certain medical issues that often relate to stress in one’s life. This includes: chronic headaches, stomach problems, poor immunity and weight issues. I am familiar with a lot of information and studies related to this issue, but the authors shared an fascinating example that stood out to me.

There is a town in Pennsylvania called Roseto that was known for people having especially high life expectancy for many years. Research showed that they ate and exercised like the rest of the United States, but the reason for their long lives was their strong relationships. The town was originally built by immigrants who were very close-knit and interconnected. According to the book, “friendships lasted through generations” because the families were so close and their connections and loyalty were so strong. Very impressive!

The town was re-studied in the 1990s, and things had changed. The close relationships had drifted apart as new people moved in and old families moved away. Neighbors didn’t all know each other like they had in the past. Now their life expectancies are no different from the rest of the country.

I think this is an excellent example of how important a good support system and connections with positive people are. We need loving, caring, listening people in our lives to help us cope and thrive with others around us. This inspires me to get out and work on my good friendships!

Here are some more research articles about Roseto:
This article shows that heart attack rates were low, but then rose as relationships fell apart. It compares Roseto with another town called Bangor.

Here is an outline tracing Roseto’s history for a college class.

This article includes other studies that show that people who are alone tend to have shorter life spans.

Reputations and learning from people with good, (or bad,) reputations

So I’m reading this book again:
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)

I am still not a millionaire! But, I keep the book by my bed and I read through a little bit every few nights. Last night, I found a tip that really resonated with me. Number 102 says “If you want to see how powerful a reputation is, write down the reputations of several people you know personally. It will become clear why people either are attracted to them or avoid them.”

This is part of the chapter about building and protecting your reputation because it is the most important part of your career or business. I thought I’d like to take this one step further. I want to make a list of what is good and bad about those people’s or companies’ reputations, and learn lessons from them. Why is one person well-liked and another despised? Why is one person successful while the other one is stuck in a dead-end job. I know from experience that working hard is not necessarily the key to being promoted. There is more to it and I want to do what the successful people are doing and learn from them!

Success and happiness start with your thoughts!

Click here to purchase The Power of Positive Thinking

You can never overestimate the power of a positive attitude. There are dozens of self-help books about the benefits of positivity! Not only does it put you in a good mood, but it gets you in the right frame of mind to feel motivated to meet your goals, and it makes you more appealing to others who can help you meet those goals. Some authors go so far as to say we subconsciously attract the things we think about. No matter what, it is certain that your thoughts determine your happiness and your ability to succeed in life. Good or bad things happen to all of us, but it is our reactions to those things that determines where we end up. So many great authors and rags-to-riches entrepreneurs emphasize the power of positivity and determination. I think we can all learn from successful people and what they have to share with us. I want to share some quotes and pretty pictures to help us focus on reaching our goals–no matter what they are 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Believe you can and you’re halfway there–Theodore Roosevelt

Sunflower Field with setting Sun in Background, nice Sunburst and Sunbeams

Change your thoughts and you change your world. –Norman Vincent Peale

 

laymisuccessstarfish

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. Plutarch

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.
Plutarch

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Dating Mr Darcy–The Smart Girl’s Guide to Sensible Romance by Sarah Arthur

Click here to purchase Dating Mr. Darcy

This book offers some really good, sensible advice for choosing a spouse–based on examples from the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice. I’m a big fan of both Austen and that book so I thought this sounded like a fun and interesting book to read. While it does offer good ideas for encouraging a compatible, mature relationship, I found it to be a bit simplified and really religious. That doesn’t mean there is nothing of value in it, but you have to pick and choose which parts can help you and which ones can’t. I would not recommend this book to someone who is an atheist or who doesn’t have at least some Christian beliefs, because religious growth is central to the book and it ends with a strong emphasis on building your relationship with God so that you can better relate to others.

The reason I say the book is simplified is because the author gives tips on making the most of your relationship with family members that may be annoying and dysfunctional. She doesn’t explore the reality that some families are *too* broken to fit with her advice. Her point of view is very much that of a woman who grew up in an idyllic home. (I did not, so it’s hard for me to relate and I will be skipping her much of her advice related to family.) But of course, many people do grow up in happy homes, so those sections will be more helpful for them. She focuses on the idea that our families set the tone for how we will relate to a future lover, which is often true, but doesn’t leave room for other circumstances, (say, a parent who is an addict or dangerous for some reason.)

Now, done complaining and moving on to the good! This is indeed a very sensible book. I have a theory that we have so many failed marriages today because of popular movies and music tricking us into thinking love is always romantic and easy. Well, it’s not. And the dashing romantic date is not necessarily the one that will make a good partner. In this book of dating advice, Sarah Arthur focuses on emotional intelligence and qualities that will last once the initial sex-appeal wears off. People who follow her advice probably are very level-headed people who make wise marriage decisions. For example, she says we need to examine our romance and ask ourselves “are you personally maintaining a healthy sense of your own identity, particularly when it comes to your family, friends, and faith?…Do you have a clear understanding of who this guy really is when it comes to his family, friends, and faith?” (p. xvii.) And this is really the main idea of the book. We need to nurture our relationships with our family, friends and God and watch those same relationships with the men we are interested in.

Overall, this is a thoughtful and introspective book, but it’s fun and light-hearted with lots of references to and examples from Pride and Prejudice.

The section titles are:

Part One: Pressure and Promiscuity

Part Two: Family–Respect, Communication, Integrity

Part Three: Friends–Communication, Respect, Loyalty

Part Four: Faith–Righteousness, Grace

Part Five: The Art of Reflection–Solitude, Self-Analysis, Confession, Moving Forward

Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking–book review

Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems by Jerry L. Wyckoff Ph.D.and Barbara C. Undell

Click here to purchase Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems

This is a really helpful and insightful book for stressed-out parents of pre-schoolers! It begins with introductions about parenting, why shouting and spanking don’t work, and how to change yourself to be a better parent, among other ideas. I like that they offer scientific studies and research to explain the consequences of spanking, but also research that emphasizes the benefits of more empathetic parenting. They don’t get too far into detail, but they give the basics that a normal person needs to know, and they name where they got the information.

Beyond the introductions, they have a series of chapters on problem issues such as dawdling, talking back, getting out of bed at night, etc…. Each chapter is short and easy to follow, so you can reference it for specific problems. For each issue, they explain ways to prevent the problem and solve the problem, as well as telling what you shouldn’t do. Many of the chapters also end with examples of how other parents solved the same problems. You could read this book all the way through, or if you just want to review certain areas, it doesn’t take long to read a chapter. Personally, I would recommend at least reading all of the introductions that explain the authors’ reasoning, then using the single “problem” chapters as needed, although it wouldn’t hurt to read all the way through just to get more ideas.

The solutions in this book focus on showing and modeling responsible behavior for kids, and explaining why and how they should behave in life. The tips are reasonable, and the authors describe them in ways that make sense and are very convincing. The authors want to develop emotionally intelligent kids and they state that “children who believe they are the masters of their fate, who feel they belong, and who feel competent are more likely to become strong, resilient children and adults.” I like that idea! They aren’t about forcing a child into submission; they are teaching us how to mold a child into a productive, healthy adult. I think they have an excellent point with this quote as well: “In the hierarchy of moral development, as defined by Lawrence Kohlberg, the lowest level is “following rules only to avoid punishment.” The highest level is “following rules because they are right and good.” When parents spank their children for misbehavior, they stop their children at the lowest level of moral development. The children are interested in avoiding the punishment, not in doing what is good or right. ”

Here is the partial list of chapters:
Preface
Introduction

  • Parenthood Is Naturally Problematic
  • The ABCs of Disciplined Parenting
  • Shouting and Spanking Are Counterproductive
  • The Role of Self-Talk
  • The Differences between Boys and Girls
  • The Transition to Elementary School for You and Your Child
  • Milestones of Development
  • Discipline Dictionary
  • Using This Book

After this is an alphabetical list of all the parenting topics–including: messiness, “hyper” activity, name-calling, not wanting to eat and temper tantrums.

The authors emphasize ideas such as: praising your child’s good behavior so it encourages them to repeat it, making clear rules and enforcing the rules consistently. For example, if you don’t set consequences for breaking rules, your kids will learn that they can break the rules, so it is important to follow through. The authors also offer some creative ideas for dealing with power struggles. There is a lot of good, emotionally healthy information in this book! It has me excited and motivated to try some of the ideas with my toddlers 🙂

« Older Entries Recent Entries »