An enlightening, smart personal development primer.

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THE AWARE LEADER

SELF-KNOWLEDGE IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS

An executive coach urges business leaders to develop better self-awareness, providing case studies, exercises, and more in this self-help guide.

A human resources consultant who has spent more than 3,000 hours coaching executives, Metheny (Solution-Focused Leadership: Coaching Employees to Generate Solutions, 2014) notes that business leaders’ lack of self-awareness is often a “disaster waiting to happen.” He provides an overview of research studies regarding the importance of this quality in business, touching on several helpful organizational psychology evaluation/assessment tools. He shares many of his own stories as well as those of his clients (first names only) who have effectively dealt with career challenges by becoming more aware of “default settings,” or unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and values. For example, one of Metheny’s clients was often frustrated with his team but then realized he had unconscious “rules,” including that everyone should pitch in during a work crunch. Once this leader articulated his rules, everyone was less stressed and performed more effectively. To help others with this critical personal development work, Metheny suggests an array of mindfulness exercises, including how to recognize and thus re-evaluate one’s “default stories” and conduct morning and evening check-ins with oneself. He stresses the importance of soliciting regular feedback (preferably on a quarterly basis and from a range of people) and of adopting the perspective of “neutral thinking,” i.e., not to be self-critical but instead be open to the “complex symphony” of the ongoing journey of self-knowledge. While the subject of this book is certainly not news, Metheny has created an engaging narrative that, particularly in the context of his own personal revelations, demonstrates the power of enhanced self-awareness in and of itself. His examples from his client base, as well as his own life, are relevant and relatable, with some nifty road-tested ideas (such as one exec’s personal “Stupid Box” used to record and store complaints, which curbed his career-damaging outbursts at others). While Metheny sometimes circles the same points, his book is on the whole a wonderful guide to improving mindfulness in business and overall life.

An enlightening, smart personal development primer.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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