Get Off Your "But" by Sean Stephenson (Hardcover, 2009)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
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
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
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
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
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
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.