Start Where You Are

March is the last time I reviewed a book of note and quite honestly I've become so absorbed with navel-gazing that I've forgotten to look outward. That was until a recent stroll through my blogging neighborhood revealed that some of my friends seem to be on the same-searching for meaning or a new direction or a new career or a new home-path. So in the interest of multiplying the wealth and spreading good karma, allow me to recommend a book...

Regular readers know that for the past six months I've been recording my journey to find a mountain home and a new career on my other blog: Every Day Do One Thing. I've also been reading or listening to the classics and newcomers in the motivational / career advice / find your purpose genre that alternatively offer to make all your dreams come true or at least get you started on the path away from the doldrums of your current less than satisfying life. Many of these books are sincere and helpful in their efforts to offer encouragement to those who have put their dreams on the backburner or simply turned off the stove altogether. Surprisingly, though, it seems that some authors are simply repeating what they've read in their colleagues books down to using the same inspiring stories and tried and true techniques. To an extent I suppose this would be expected since there are only so many happy stories to go around.

I nearly reached the point of motivational burn-out when I began listening to Start Where You Are by Chris Gardner, author of the inspiring Pursuit of Happyness (yes, the book that became the wonderful tear-jerker movie starring Will Smith). Mr. Gardner's book is by far the best I've read in the genre. Perhaps because he is speaking from hard-won experience and has a real passion to help others, his words ring true. He literally started with nothing, was homeless while working his way through DeanWitter's brokers' training program, was fired from Bear Stearns which inspired him to start his own firm, and which ultimately made him a very rich man.

Unlike other books that promise everything is possible if we just visualize what we want, Mr. Gardner takes us through the not often discussed, and less glamorous steps of the journey and demonstrates how to take that initial vision of what we want and make it a reality. He is an advocate of single minded focus and hard work, what he calls, 'hitting the anvil'. And while he offers as many inspirational stories as the next person, his are less fantastic and rely more on the results of hard work and persistence in the face of defeat.

The book is divided into six sections and 44 brief lessons each focusing on a single trait of success. He is a no-nonsense advocate, who while encouraging makes it clear that there is no substitute for getting started today and working with single-minded devotion until you obtain your goals. He also discusses the importance of persisting in the face of failure. Or the need to take 'baby steps' when paralyzed by fear. I credit this book with helping me to overcome my fear of revising my resume, getting it distributed, and then getting my career search into overdrive. The great draw of the book is that with the breadth of topics covered, everyone will find an area of inspiration that suits their needs. One lesson that made an impression on me was this: if you really want to succeed, work for yourself. Be an entrepreneur. That's the lesson that resonated most powerfully with me and the one I am now working to implement in my life.

So if you're stuck, or need an inspirational boost, get a copy of this book and read it before bed or listen to it in your car as you drive to that job your no longer love. I promise you'll be impressed with the results.


JCK said…
Thank you for sharing this, Suz. I needed to hear it.
Keetha said…
Great review! I'll be looking for this one.
San Diego Momma said…
Wonderful review. You made me want it.

I'll let you know how it goes.
Alison said…
I saw the title of your post & knew I had to read it. Like you, I'm on the searching for meaning/new direction/new career path and have also been reading my fair share of advice books. I heard about the movie version of Pursuit of Happyness, but have never seen it; nor was I familiar with Gardner's books. But I might just have to read "Start Where You Are." Sounds like a great (and relevant) message.

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