The Blurb On The Back:
Focus. Simplify. Achieve.
What would you love to have happen?
Sunday Times bestselling author, speaker and executive coach Jamie Smart will help you unleash your potential and achieve the things that matter to you in every aspect of your life.
– Replace stress with calm
– Experience elite-performer flow
– Make better, more confident decisions
– Increase your influence
– Get the results you desire
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Jamie Smart is a former IT professional turned executive coach and speaker. This is a disappointing self-help book that – like so many in the genre – exists to promote Smart’s services and charity by offering a bland mix of jargon and empty phrases that boil down to the (reasonable) notion that you misunderstand how your mind works and need to take things away and focus on your innate capabilities for reasoning and insight.
I picked this up because I’m always open to reading about new ways of thinking and learning new techniques that will help me to reach my goals so I was interested to see what Smart had to say.
The book builds on a previous book Smart wrote THE LITTLE BOOK OF CLARITY (which set out his Clarity model of thinking) and heavily ties back to his websites and branding with every chapter ends with a Q-code that links to further materials, questions etc on his website for you to do further work on. I don’t have a problem with that per se – a lot of people writing in this field have the same approach and it makes sense, they make their main living coaching – but it did feel increasingly heavy handed, especially as a number of the case studies in his book feature people who ended up becoming coaches specialising in his method. It’s also one of those books where the author only talks about successes – where he connected with people using his services and helped them turn their lives around, when some of the most interesting books in the field look at those instances where it didn’t go to plan and what the author learned and took from that and how it influenced their methods.
In terms of content, you don’t need to read THE LITTLE BOOK OF CLARITY to follow this but Smart does cross-refer back to it and I suspect that you would get more from this if you’re already familiar with his methods and way of presenting.
The central theme of the book is about how you already have the tools you need to get better results and make more confident decisions and that you need to be ware of how your innate capability for reasoning and insight and that it’s contaminated thinking that gets in your way. As a result, you need to take away external factors and objectives and work out what really matters to you so that you can then deduce how to achieve it. Smart then builds on this to demonstrate how to improve your ability to influence and sell and perform better at work while also enjoying it more.
There is a lot of repetition within the chapters as he calls back on previous points and then expands on them – again, this is not uncommon in books of this type and is a way of reinforcing the message – but because this book is quite short, it was noticeable. I can’t say that I disagree with some of his core points – we do get het up on external goals like more money, a nicer house etc and that can mask what’s really the problem, we are all afraid of failure, which can prevent us from taking action and sometimes it is possible to intuitively deduce what you need to do by just stepping back. However there’s not a lot of meat here as to how you do all of that (at least, not in the book – I did not click through to Smart’s website, where there may be more) and Smart’s keen to go back to his jargon and trade marked phrases, which made me increasingly cynical as I went further on.
Another issue I had was that Smart constantly talks about how you know things innately as a child, like how gravity works, that I didn’t think quite worked in the context of thinking about making changes and achieving objectives. In addition, it’s noticeable how the vast majority of the people held up as innovators or people to admire in the book are men and how some of them have since been discovered to be a little problematic in their attitudes (although, to be fair, this book was published in 2018 and no one has a crystal ball.
Ultimately, I found this all a bit empty and hollow read that didn’t really work for me, but your mileage may differ.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.