Crooks (Covenants, 2003, etc.) advises readers on how to take better advantage of one’s acquaintances with others in this motivational work.
Modern life has become increasingly centered on the individual, and this is reflected in the self-help genre, in which readers are often called upon to look within themselves to find their untapped inner potential. Crooks has a different take: turn your gaze outward and recognize just how many other people are involved in your life. “People need support from others, and lots of it,” she writes in her preface. “Support helps each of us individually and, in turn, helps all of us collectively.” This support forms the basis of “human capital,” the resource that Crooks identifies as the most important factor in individual success. She walks readers through eight networks, some obvious and some less so, in one’s family, health, education, spiritual life, career, community, home and personal affairs (including people whose services one employs), and “ghosts” (the deceased, or people who’ve otherwise left one’s life). After a breakdown of each, Crooks introduces readers to her concept of “ACTSage,” which contains an acronym for “being aware of your connections, having clarity about what you need and want from them, and using that information to transform your life.” Crooks writes in a warm, accessible prose style that will keep readers comfortable and engaged: “Every person you encounter—whether a decades-long, intimate partner, a college roommate, a trusted teacher, a stranger you meet only briefly, or a pickpocket who steals your wallet—makes an impression on you.” She illustrates her points with numerous examples, and although she frequently dips into jargon, her arguments are rather persuasive. The book’s focus on social groups is a refreshing reminder that even the most ambitious reader still shares the world with many other people.
A charming, convincing work of community-based self-help.