Book Review of "The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win" by Jeff Haden
"THE MOTIVATION MYTH: HOW HIGH ACHIEVERS REALLY SET THEMSELVES UP TO WIN" BY JEFF HADEN
Kerry's Book Review
I am a sucker for reading "high achiever" books so when this title crossed my path, I had no choice but to buy it. I am also a big fan of Jeff Haden and read his Inc. column "Owners Manual" frequently. This book did not disappoint.
First, Jeff is funny. I laughed out loud throughout the book, making it an even bigger win because so many achievement books are dry. This one is not. Jeff shares all kinds of gems worthy of consideration, some new, some reminders, but it's packaged in a way that makes you want to do something with the "nuggets of goodness" you take away.
Second, I liked that Jeff dispels the myth that motivation comes from willpower and determination. Instead, he lays out the argument that motivation is a process that comes from taking small steps and celebrating ALL wins, no matter how small.
Kerry's Key Takeaways
All in all, I highly recommend this book. You will walk away inspired to do great things.
"This isn't just a groundbreaking approach to making millions or melting off extra pounds. It's a life-changing mental shift toward enjoying the process. Why the f*ck not?"
—Sarah Knight, author of Get Your Sh*t Together
"Jeff Haden knows what many people don't: that success is less about searching for motivation and more about muddling through until you achieve something motivating."
—Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
"Jeff Haden upends a traditional trope: that motivation breeds success—by showing us that it is success that breeds motivation. Once you understand this, everything changes."
—L. David Marquet, former Navy captain and author of Turn the Ship Around!
Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction" by Chris Bailey
Kerry's Book Review
"I need to read this book...immediately," I thought to myself as I skimmed the intro. It was mid-May and in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown. It was clear I would be working from home for the foreseeable future. Struggling to stay focused and productive, I knew what I was doing wasn't sustainable. Leading two companies while managing my 7 year-old son's schooling...and stressing about what COVID-19 was doing to the nation's health care system, the economy and the mental health of the people I care most about...was overwhelming. I found myself staring at my computer trying to do five things at once, rushing through them so I could be done in time to make Jack lunch, and then get to the next five things on my list. I knew this book had to be some tips and tricks that would help me get back on track. So I downloaded it and dove in...while riding my mountain bike...the exact opposite of what the author recommends...but hey, I don't have time to exercise and read 40 books each year (my annual goal) so sometimes I have to do them together. Thank you Audible.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's broken into two sections, the first on hyperfocus and the second on scatterfocus. More on each below...
What is hyperfocus? It's when you give all your attention to the task at hand. It's also called being in the flow. While there wasn't anything earth shattering in the hyperfocus section, I did appreciate several tips, the first being to keep your cell phone in the other room when you are trying to get important work done. Our brains tend to get uncomfortable when we have to do hard things so it's easy to allow ourselves to be distracted. I find this to be true when I write...it takes me a while to warm up and I find myself checking my email and looking at headlines when the words don't come easily. I also took his advice and turned off all notifications on my phone and computer and I found this to be immediately helpful.
Other key tips include:
The second section on scatterfocus was more helpful. Being a type-A driver, I feel compelled to always do something of value and letting my mind wander is pretty low on my "this is something valuable to do" list. Not anymore! Now, I only listen to audiobooks for half the duration of a mountain bike ride. The other half I let my mind wander (aka scatterfocus).
What is scatterfocus? It's time during which you intentionally let your mind wander, allowing it to work on problems, be creative, or brainstorm ideas. Why is it important? Our best ideas rarely come while sitting in front of our computers; instead we have our best ideas when we are in nature, exercising, washing our hair, or brushing our teeth. Scatterfocus also allows you to hit the rest button to replenish your mental energy as well as ponder, plan and set goals.
I recommend this book. It's filled with good ideas, is easy to follow, and if you only implement one or two of Chris' tactics, you'll improve your focus.
“The best productivity plans call for strategy, not just hacks or tactics—and Hyperfocus gives you strategy in spades. When you read this book, get ready to do your most important work!” - Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup, The Art of Non-Conformity, and The Happiness of Pursuit
“Becoming more productive isn’t about time management; it’s about attention management. I’d tell you more about that, but I lost my train of thought. Luckily this attention-grabbing book is here to help. Chris Bailey offers actionable, data-driven insights for sharpening your focus—and finding the right moments to blur it.”
-Adam Grant, author of Originals, Give and Take, and Option B
Thanks for reading this...now go read more books! 👁📚🧠
“The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self Not Just Your Good Self Drives Success and Fulfillment” by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener.
This book is fantastic…It made me think deeply about the seemingly never-ending pursuit of happiness and how it’s actually making people miserable. Being called a “Happiness Nazi” myself, this book opened my eyes to the power of harnessing the dark sides of our personalities. The authors make a case that the goal shouldn’t be happiness; it should be wholeness which means fully experiencing all of our emotions, not just the positive ones. Wholeness also means allowing the gifts of all of our personality traits create success and fulfillment…even if those traits have been labeled as ugly or bad. For example, anger can be very motivating…when you’re really mad and you express it effectively, you can create action to change a situation for the better. I felt inspired and empowered after I was done with this book. I more fully appreciate the darker qualities, not only in myself, but everyone important in my life.
KP’s Top Take Away
Organizations should not create an environment that only tolerates positivity. Instead, they should create one that allows people to be real. This means that it should be safe to voice concerns and opposing opinions. Companies should help their employees learn how to more effectively move through negative emotions and situations so that problems aren’t swept under the rug but resolved through communication and action. This kind of progress will create engaged employees who can flex with the good times and the tough.
Editorial Reviews posted on Amazon
“At long last, here’s a book on why happiness can make us sad and mindfulness might be overrated. The Upside of Your Dark Side offers a provocative, evidence-based case for a balanced life. If you haven’t read it yet, you should feel guilty—and it turns out that will be good for you.”
—Adam Grant, author of Give and Take
“The Upside of Your Dark Side offers one of the most important messages of recent psychological science: that you don't need to avoid discomfort or distress to have a meaningful and joyful life. The authors provide a highly refreshing alternative to the idea that one must pursue happiness at all costs. There is much to be learned from the experience of negative emotions, and from this book.”
—Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct
“I feel like I have five new superpowers after reading this book. It turns out that leading a good and satisfying life doesn't mean we have to try to be happy, calm or optimistic all the time. We can learn to use uncomfortable feelings like anger, anxiety, guilt, sadness or boredom to be kinder, braver, smarter, more creative and more persuasive. The dark side does indeed have an upside -- and this book teaches us how to harness it, so we can truly lead more heroic and purposeful lives.”
—Jane McGonigal, PhD, author of Reality Is Broken
KP's BOOk Reviews
I’ve been asked by several people to put out a reading list as a regular blog post. Rather than keep a running list, every once in while I’ll write about whatever I am reading in the moment.