In a karma-based approach to making up for all the work I managed to get out of while younger, I’ve decided to start writing book reviews on this blog. This is good timing, since it coincides with my renewed interest in reading books.
The first book up for evaluation is the instant-classic Now, Discover Your strengths. Or rather, a potential instant-classic, had the author thought to discover his own strengths and realized that he is in severe need of a decent editor.
The book has only one gem of wisdom: you will be happier and more successful if you emphasize your talents, instead of compensating for your weaknesses. I didn’t find this revelation to be all that revolutionary. Even worse, is that this revelation is a few paragraphs on page 2. Therefore, the rest of the book is nothing but useless fluff.
The next 90 or so pages are worthwhile only for the unintended humor of reading the author expand on this this simple concept in some very odd ways, including waxing eloquent on the eloquence of Colin Powell and an extended analogy involving T1 lines. The inclusion of the latter makes even less sense, considering how unlikely it is that the target audience knows what a T1 line is.
The rest of the book describes in detail what all the different strengths that you can find in yourself mean. It’s almost like design-patterns, but for emotions. Part of the deal with the book is that you can take the on-line test that will tell you want your strengths are. The test is almost as long as the one advertised for eHarmony, but it will not help you get a date. The first 5 strengths are included with the purchase of the book, but in order to see the relative rankings of the remaining 30, you will have to shell out additional cash. Author’s strength score card: writing (not check), making money (check!). Tallying the results of the strength finder test did make for some office fun, but it was no more insightful than the Super Hero Quiz.
Obviously, elitist and mildly arrogant computer professionals are not the target audience for self-help books. I just don’t see how anybody would benefit from spending $18 and 3-8 hours to be told that you should focus on doing what you do well. It’s hardly a novel idea. Instead of reading the book and taking the quiz, you’ll be much better off just thinking about what you like to do, then going out and doing it.
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