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A lot of books about success are written either by high achievers (''do it my way'') or by planning enthusiasts (''stick your vision to your bedroom ceiling''). But most of the books listed below are about how you can learn more from what you already do successfully - and how you can help others to affirm and learn from their successes. Some of these books are even well supported by research.
But there is a problem if you swing so far towards a 'success' orientation that you neglect, suppress or simply don't see warning signs of an impending crisis. Everyone who writes about success is right - up to a point. Through experience, reading and research, you will become wiser about how to find the optimum balances in your reviewing between failure and success and between past, present and future. See panel opposite for links. (Roger Greenaway)
ON THIS SITE
Gladwell book so far - even if the substantial chapter on the Ethnic
Theory of Plane Crashes was a story of failure sitting uncomfortably
amongst stories of success (it takes a few extra moves to make this
story fit). I was pleased to find that this wasn't yet another book
about how to be successful, despite the chapter about the 10,000 hour
rule (where it turns out that skilled performers have practised a lot).
Each chapter made me increasingly sceptical about the possibility of there being born geniuses, born leaders or born anything - as one by one the conditions for success (and failure) are revealed in fascinating stories or studies.
You could be proactive in creating some of these conditions for success, but to manipulate other key conditions you would need a crystal ball: a lot of the biggest winners happen to have been in the right place at the right time, and may only have appreciated this retrospectively.
Without giving too much away, there is a nice personal touch at the end that brings this collection of themed insights together in a way that adds even greater credibility to a book that turns much accepted wisdom on its head.
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway
The authors draw on their extensive experience as consultants and
trainers in large companies in the UK and abroad, revealing an approach
that has clearly proved inspirational to their clients.
• Learn more about this topic at The Solutions Focus Website
• See related sections below: APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY and SOLUTION-FOCUSED THERAPY
|Synopsis: What do your people at work and your spouse and kids at home have in common with a five-ton killer whale? This work explains that both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive. It shows how using the techniques of animal trainers - specifically those responsible for the killer whales of SeaWorld - can supercharge your effectiveness at work and at home. It explains the difference between "GOTcha" (catching people doing things wrong) and "Whale Done!" (catching people doing things right). (Amazon.co.uk)|
|Review: Marcus Buckingham and Donald O Clifton's Now, Discover Your Strengths proposes a unique approach to managing personnel: focus on enhancing people's strengths rather than eliminating their weaknesses. Effectively managing personnel--as well as one's own behaviour--is an extraordinarily complex task that, not surprisingly, has been the subject of countless books touting what each claims is the true path to success. Following up on the coauthors' popular previous book, First, Break All the Rules, it fully describes 34 positive personality themes the two have formulated (such as Achiever, Developer, Learner, and Maximiser) and explains how to build a "strengths-based organisation" by capitalising on the fact that such traits are already present among those within it. (extract from Amazon.co.uk review)|
|Synopsis: Compiles scientific evidence that optimism is vital to overcoming defeat and exhibits how readers can learn the habit of optimism necessary for a successful and happy life.|
promised to be an entertaining read that connects with my interest in
appreciative- positive- solution- success- focused approaches to
learning. And it was both of these things.
I found the wittiest parts to be the most profound - especially when the author puts people's insights about optimism to the test and finds they do not work for him or just do not make sense.
Laurence Shorter travels the world searching for optimists and interviewing them. He succeeds in getting interviews with many famous optimists. He also interviews less well known people who have a reputation for being optimists, such as the woman who is always happy.
'Loz' would not have continued his search for so long if he were not an optimist at heart. But in his efforts to understand optimism he encounters so many 'difficulties' with the various optimistic philosophies he encounters, that his optimism wears a bit thin.
At the end it is difficult to say whether it is a serious enquiry or an entertaining story. Therefore it is a brilliant balance! I kept reading for the entertainment and found my ideas about optimism really challenged along the way - although not completely persuaded by the author's own conclusion.
I hope this book is successful enough to tempt the author to go on another quest.
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway
Reviewed by Roger Greenaway:
Julie Freeman's 'Working in Theory but Failing in Practice?' will ring true for anyone involved in performance appraisal. She persuasively identifies the critical problem - that managers find it difficult to talk about performance. The solution is simple and straightforward and is explained in a few pages, but anyone interested in the subject will want the whole book. This book is the condensed wisdom of an expert in performance appraisal presented in a way that is straightforward and accessible - with clear headings, convincing arguments and helpful examples. The author makes significant and specific criticisms of other approaches to performance appraisal, but she recommends adapting them rather than scrapping them. What I particularly like is how the book practices what it preaches: the whole book could be seen as a large scale example of the PAF technique in practice. It is a performance appraisal of performance appraisal. You are left with a better understanding of the problem and plenty of good ideas about how to overcome it.
These sentences stood out to me as the crux of the whole book:
If we are serious about wanting to boost employee morale and organizational productivity, then overcoming the problems that managers face when talking about performance is critical. It is a goal worthy of our money, time and effort because it is the only 'non-gimmicky' way to bring those visions of a happy and engaged workforce to reality.(Available in digital format)
(Reviewed by Roger Greenaway)
Perhaps rewarding success is counter-productive?
Perhaps pessimism and negative thinking lead to success?
What really makes people glad to be alive? What are the inner
experiences that make life worthwhile? For more than two decades Mihaly
Csikszentmihalyi studied those states in which people report feelings
of concentration and deep enjoyment. His studies revealed that what
makes experience genuinely satisfying is ‘flow’ a state of
concentration so focused that it amounts to complete absorption in an
activity and results in the achievement of a perfect state of
happiness.Flow has become the classic work on happiness and a major
contribution to contemporary psychology. It examines such timeless
issues as the challenge of lifelong learning; family relationships;
art, sport and sex as ‘flow’; the pain of loneliness; optimal use of
free time; and how to make our lives meaningful. (Amazon.co.uk)
You can explore Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's ideas about flow for free at http://www.deepfun.com where Dr. Fun (Bernie DeKoven) interviews 'Mike' about 'flow'.
Review: Sharry examines the lifecycle of solution-focused groups and the key skills of managing process and helping the group stay focused on their solutions in a respectful and affirming way. The book ends with some example activities for use in groups where a creative approach to process may help the members to move forwards.
The book is well referenced and indexed, and structured to allow easy navigation for the reader. John Sharry has produced a book which will interest not only group therapists, but also anyone interested in helping groups stay on track towards solutions. (Extract from Mark McKergow's review at Amazon.co.uk)
This work argues that how a firm creates and uses talent is far more
important than how the firm attracts talent...Collectively, the stories
reveal a common path to success that places values before strategy;
emphasizes implementation over planning and focuses on getting the best
out of all employees, not just individual stars. (Amazon.co.uk)
One Minute Manager catches people doing things
(A small review for a small book at a very small price)
Over and over, major multinational companies have found that their
previous successes did not teach them how to be consistently
successful. They routinely discard successful processes instead of
studying and replicating them in other parts of the organization. Why?
This text seeks to explain the reasons, with the author suggesting that
they are just following the path of least resistance as determined by
their organizational structure. The text also adds a missing piece to
management literature, the structural causes of success and failure,
and explains how to redesign the organization or team for success.
Bruce Elkin says it is the best book ever on crafting organizational strategy. Read his full review
Self-esteem: The Costs and Causes of Low Self-Worth
report raises serious doubts as to the value of investing in programmes
to enhance self-esteem, given the very limited impact such programmes
are likely to have on most problem behaviours."
Professor Emler points out that some social problems are associated with (and partly caused by) high self esteem, and he broadly concludes that moderate self-esteem is about the best kind to have. But I have just made the kind of generalisation that Professor Emler would be quick to criticise. What I found particularly valuable was the carefully explained summary of the seven possible explanations that exist when you find a correlation between one factor (e.g. high self-esteem) and another (e.g. bullying). But his report does not end in a mess of inconclusiveness. This is partly because so much research has been carried out in this field that it is possible to make some important conclusions - even if some are tentative. Individual and social 'problems' are too complex to expect a single change (e.g. in self-esteem) to have profound consequences. A careful reading of this very readable report will help you to judge whether your intuitive commitment to raising self-esteem in others is likely to help or hinder the results that you or they are seeking.
This report has already attracted reviews in the national press. The predictable headlines are that raising self-esteem may be bad for your child. Inside the body of the report you will find a very useful and up to date summary of the key issues and a significant reappraisal of what the research does and does not say. (reviewed by Roger Greenaway)
For the past 15 years the authors have worked closely with colleagues
to develop the emerging issue of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), a process
for fostering positive and strength based change, as a theory and
practice that can be used by OD professionals and managers/leaders of
organizations, groups and communities. They have seeded the AI process
across the globe and are now seeing a continually increasing interest
in its use. In the light of 15 years of practice adapting AI to many
cultures, types of organizations, and multiple "presenting issues,"
this is now a proven process that OD consultants, organizational
leaders and managers, and the academic community are finding eminently
innovative, energizing, and useful.
Synopsis: This title combines theory, an explanation of the reason that Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is transformative, and practical designs for various kinds of AI/OD interventions paired with case studies where the interventions have been used successfully. The book includes a complete explanation of AI from its historical and theoretical roots to its practice and impact in organizations presented in the context of the rapidly changing environment in which we live and work. (Amazon.co.uk)
|From the back cover: The importance of Appreciative Inquiry goes beyond business to include family life and relationships. Human systems and organisations move in the direction of what they study, and study in every and all areas involves the process of asking questions. The sooner the right questions are asked, the sooner the right answers are obtained. This book enumerates the generic questions that are central to the discovery phase of the Appreciative Inquiry process and are the keys to bringing out the best in any organisation.|
Extract from one of many reviews at amazon.co.uk: The authors
effectively challenge the old paradigm of "cause and effect" as the
best approach to problem solving, demonstrating instead a "theory of no
theory" in which every case is treated on its merits. They draw on
their extensive experience as consultants and trainers in large
companies in the UK and abroad, revealing an approach that has clearly
proved inspirational to their clients. In organisations, they argue, no
problem happens all the time, so try focussing first on those times
when things are going well. Do more of what you have identified that
works, and see what happens.
See more reviews of 'The Solutions Focus' at Amazon.co.uk
Learn more about this topic at The Solutions Focus Website
Experience AI... is valuable for anyone engaged in an individual, team or organizational change process. It invites you to share in a conversation around the power and efficacy of embedding Experiential Learning models, tools and techniques into Appreciative Inquiry in order to accelerate positive change, motivate teams and individuals, generate buy-in and engage people at all levels. By sharing and learning from experience, people attain the high levels of rapport, empathy, trust and mutual understanding necessary to risk and embrace change together. When integrated into each stage of an Appreciative Inquiry, Experiential Learning supports and illuminates the AI process, making AI "come alive" for all stakeholders. When designed into an AI process, experiential learning allows participants to actually experience "the best of what exists" (Discovery), creates opportunities for organizational "peak experiences" (Dream), provides opportunities to experience, practice and refine provocative propositions (Design), and builds critical mass as change is cascaded throughout the community (Destiny). (amazon.com)
Experience AI is available from Amazon.com or The Taos Institute or the authors at Executive Edge, Inc.
|Appreciative facilitation emphasises what works well and pays attention to success and achievement. At its simplest, it involves catching students at their best moments and providing positive feedback about what they did or said. Alternatively you can invite positive comments from participants for each other following a group exercise. Or just ask, 'What is working well?'. Cheri Torres brings together her enthusiasm for appreciative facilitation and mobile ropes courses in 'The Appreciative Facilitator' (Torres, 2001). Her handbook includes summaries of key research supporting appreciative facilitation, such as the 'Pygmalion Effect' ('As the teacher believes the student to be, so the student becomes') and how watching videos of your own successful performances leads to much greater improvements than watching videos of your mistakes. Appreciative facilitation draws on ideas and principles from Appreciative Inquiry (an approach to organisation development) and Solution Focused Brief Therapy ('Be careful what you attend to. What you focus on expands.'). Appreciative facilitation fits well with outdoor education, both as a source of techniques and as a philosophy.|
books and resources about Appreciative Inquiry
|Synopsis: This book represents an addition to the literature on brief therapy. "Solution Talk" is a term Furman and Ahola use to refer to a constructive and agreeable manner of talking with people about problems. A conversation dominated by "solution talk" rather than "problem talk" is characterized by an atmosphere of mutual respect and is likely to focus on the future rather than the past, on resources rather than shortcomings, on success and progress rather than failure, and on solutions rather than problems. (Amazon.co.uk)|
|Product Description: Authors Peter De Jong and Insoo Kim Berg present an interviewing skills text with a unique solution-focused approach. This unique approach views clients as competent, helps them to visualize the changes they want, and builds on what they are already doing that works. Throughout the book, the authors' present models for solution-focused work, illustrated by examples and supported by research. (Amazon.com)|
|Book Description: The book examines the challenges that the furious pace of change in today’s world have brought and provides every manager with strategies to facilitate a successful, dynamic, creative, effective workforce. Backed by sound, up-to-the minute psychological theory this book is also highly practical and is packed with validated tools and techniques for enhancing life experience and work performance. This book will equip the reader with usable, effective, proven techniques for improving, communication, collaboration and co-operation at work. It will teach the reader how to become a ‘manager coach’ and to lead themselves and their team with confidence. (Amazon.co.uk)|
|Synopsis: After giving a history of brief therapy and describing the basic philosophical assumptions, the authors concentrate on ways of intervening that are common to all brief therapists, including framing, pattern, paradoxical, metamorphical, hypnotic and family interventions.|
|Synopsis At a time when the accepted standard treatment for alcoholism is long-term and expensive - and still has a high rate of failure - solution-focused therapy, as developed at the Brief Family Therapy Center in Milwaukee, in the US, puts into practice the most recent thinking and research in an elegant, brief and cost-effective model. This book outlines the model in an easy to read, step-by-step and engaging fashion, illustrated with numerous case examples. (Amazon.co.uk)|
books and resources about Solution Focused Brief Therapy
Move over Dr. Norman Vincent Peale,
Optimal Thinking has become the successor to positive thinking. Hailed
by academia and the media as "the essential step above positive
thinking," Optimal Thinking empowers us to be our best in any
circumstance. It stops us from settling for second best! (Amazon.com)
Available from optimalthinking.com where you can view the contents and learn much more about the subject.
|Maximize your talents, resources, and time. Make the most of every opportunity and achieve optimal personal and professional satisfaction. The successor to positive thinking, Optimal Thinking is the mental tool you need to achieve your ultimate life. This revolutionary, life-optimizing book shows you just how simple it is to sweep past the ordinary and even the extraordinary into the world of the highest and best. You will never settle for second best again! (Amazon.co.uk)|
|Synopsis In the face of increasing levels of depression affecting American children, the author teaches parents and educators how to instill optimism, resilience, and confidence in their youngsters. (Amazon.co.uk)|
Power of Positive Coaching
Raymond M. Nakamura
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