Sunday, December 11, 2016

Who Would You Like to Talk to and What About?

I found this question and answer pasted into my journal from March 21, 1991.  I was playing "Postcard Challenge." The game involved asking each other questions.  The answer would be a postcard with an image, words, and a new questions.

Image result for with love from hell Matt GroeningI had photocopied the non-picture side of the postcard and taped it into my journal. I don't know what the picture was, but it was from this postcard book.

Who did I want to talk to in 1991?  Here's my answer:
1.  Moses:  I'd ask him what that burning bush was like.
2.  Jesus:  I'd ask him what he meant actually - what he really wanted.
3.  Buddha:  Perhaps he'd explain his experience to me
4, 5,  & 6.:  Jefferson, Danton, Marat, and Cromwell.  I'd like to talk about their revolutions.
7 & 8:  Confucius and Lao Tzu:  I'd like to know what they think it's all about.
9.  Shakespeare:  I'd like to know his feelings about love and marriage, writing, inspiration, magic, The Tempest, King Lear, and so on.  Ideally, we would talk for a long, long while.
10.  Ghandi, Thoreau, Golda Meir
11.  Abby Hoffman, John Lennon, Mozart.
12.  Akhenaten, Pericles, Socrates, Plato.

Actually, if I could talk to one person, I'd talk to my father who died January 1, 1969.
That was my answer 25 years ago. It might be different now.

Who would you like to talk to and what about?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Are Self-Help Books Self-Helpful?

Thinking of reading a self-help book?

Will it ease your back pain?
Will it make you thinner?
Will it help you find true love?
Will it endanger your life?
My first self-help book was Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, the Bible of food back in the 1970s.  I recall making Adelle Davis's nutritional booster of brewer's yeast, wheat germ, raw eggs, and fruit juice.  Check it out!

I've had some transformational insights due to self-help books, particularly Co-Dependent No More which showed me that my situation was typical of many people and not unique to me.  The book described my then (way-back then) partner's behaviours and my responses as if there had been a camera in our home for the previous five years.

This realization enabled this enabler to pry herself loose from the cycle of fleeing and returning.  After reading the book, I was able to see the cycle as a typical pattern.  The book sucked all the unique drama out of my experience.  I was a cliché.  I had the book, though, for many months before being able to read it.  The book was screaming its blue cover at me - and finally, at the right time, I was able to listen.

Difficult Conversations helped me see my own responsibility in all the difficult conversations I found myself in. This had the powerful impact of reducing anger.  How can I be mad at you and disappointed in you if I knew how disappointing you would be from the beginning?

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has been a very useful book for anyone working in groups. The key message of that book is that trust is essential for teams to be effective.

The other four dysfunctions follow from absence of trust.

A friend of mine said this, "Life is too interesting and too complex for self-help to be worthwhile."
I would say the opposite:  Life is too interesting and complex for self-help and any other kind of help not to be worthwhile.  There is no one answer.  There are many answers, and the right book at the right time can sometimes be just what we need. 

At least it was for me.