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Book Review of: Get Off Your "But"

How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself

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Review of Get Off Your "But" by Sean Stephenson (Hardcover, 2009)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.

This book has endorsements from big names ranging from the business literature (Ken Blanchard) to the self-help gurus (Susan Jeffers). The back jacket has a quote from former President Bill Clinton ("Sean is an amazing person with an important message"). Tony Robbins wrote the Foreword.

At this point, I could probably end the review because when those movers and shakers recommend a book what more do you need to know? Just get the book. Ah, this is a "but" situation! "I could write a review but" with those endorsements from such successful people...." The "but" situations we encounter every day can have far more profound effects than missing the opportunity to review a book of this caliber.

Sean's style is one of encouraging and prodding, but he's not a rah-rah guy. He's a realist. According to brain researchers (see my other reviews of brain-related books), reality is largely what we make it. The brain filters and repackages information before the conscious mind sees it, largely based on preconceptions and what it "ought to" see. The brain is, essentially, a predictive computer and it will predict based on what it perceives rather than what it senses. That is, it makes its own reality. This fact has only recently been verified in the neuroscience field (physical brain studies) but has long been a fundamental premise on the motivational lecture circuit.

Why is Sean a realist instead of a cheerleader? After all, anyone who is successful on the lecture circuit has it made, right? Classic silver spoon, right? Not right.

Years ago, I learned about a rare disease thanks to the movie "Unbreakable" (came out in 2000, starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robin Wright Penn). In this movie, Jackson's character (Elijah) has extremely brittle bones. The movie has several flashback scenes that give us insight into what Elijah's life was like growing up. The movie starts off with his birth; he's born with broken bones.

Sean has that rare disease, and was born with broken bones. His condition makes his life very complicated. He didn't come from a life of ease, but has had to overcome enormous obstacles. He's now a PhD and licensed psychotherapist. He's completing a second PhD (clinical hypnosis). He's an internationally known professional speaker.

And he's three feet tall.

Reading this book, I could not help but feel a strong connection with Sean. He comes across as a person who just wants to help others. He makes his message simple and clear, but at the same time he helps the reader dig into complex challenges.

This book consists of seven chapters, a foreword, an epilogue, and a resources area.

The Foreword by Tony Robbins was very touching and helped me understand what an amazing person the author is. As I have a high opinion of Tony Robbins (whose critics have been forced to eat crow due to discoveries in brain science over the past few years), his endorsement means a lot. He didn't just throw out a few platitudes and empty praises. He made a point of explaining why Sean's book is a "must read." Tony "brings to life" what he's saying, through specific examples.

Chapter One. Born to Kick But: The Short Story of a Big Life. This is an autobiographical sketch. Here, we learn about Sean's childhood, the challenges he faced, and the object lessons he learned. He introduces us to his core philosophy: cause and effect. It's not a new concept and thus it's not something he made up to attract an audience. I've understood this concept for a very long time, but Sean helped me see it with greater clarity.

Chapter Two. Lesson 1: Start Connecting. There's a huge difference between merely communicating and actually connecting with others. I'm not a fan of President Clinton, but the man is an expert on connecting with people. In this chapter, Sean lists "Ten things I learned about connection from President Bill Clinton." Sean knows Clinton personally, so this isn't an armchair observation kind of thing. This chapter has lots of great information for anyone frustrated with relationships (business or personal).

Chapter Three. Lesson 2: Watch What You Say to Yourself. This gets into the traditional inner dialogue stuff, but takes it up a notch or two. One of the things Sean communicates here is your word choices can have a transformational effect (or not, if they are poor choices).

Chapter Four. Lesson 3: Master Your Physical Confidence. You can usually spot a person who has self-esteem issues, can't you? And why is it some people seem to dominate a room, even if they aren't the best-looking, best-dressed, or loudest person in the room? Sean explains why and what you can do about that.

Chapter Five. Lesson 4: Focus Your Focus. As I type this, I have a painful thumb infection. Guess when it hurts the most? When I'm thinking about it! In this chapter, Sean delves into such things as changing your focus from what you don't have to what you can be thankful for. He talks about directing your mind toward what you want to achieve rather than letting your mental powers drown in a pity puddle.

Chapter Six. Lesson 5: Choose Your Friends Wisely. Sean uses the metaphor of a pit crew to illustrate the differences between A Friends, B Friends, and C Friends. He explains that you can choose your pit crew. Avoid the takers, drainers and destroyers. Re-channel that energy into cultivating real friends. Since there's confusion over what a real friend is, Sean makes this clear.

Chapter Seven. Lesson 6: Take Full Responsibility. Either you own your situations, or they own you. When they own you, it's not good. Sean has a simple formula for understanding how to be in control: C > E. That is, cause is greater than effect. He explains how this works and how it can liberate you. As mentioned earlier, Sean is a psychotherapist. If a client will not agree to work with this formula, Sean ends the session and refunds the client's money. That's how important this is.

Epilogue. One Last Thing.... As it's only one page, it's an epilogue rather than a chapter. It's Sean's final piece of wisdom for applying the lessons in the book.

Resources. Sean lists books and movies "that shaped my life." All of these titles are familiar to me. He also lists excellent online resources for various issues.

This book is not one you want to miss. Get your copy today. If you are thinking, "Yeah, but..." then you desperately need it. Don't delay.

 

 

About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

The reviews I do will, contrary to emerging trends, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or not substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably another 6,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree undergrad and an MBA. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read to begin with.

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