2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
I have read many self-help books, many motivational books, and many books of support and encouragement. I have even written a number of them myself, and my college textbooks on communication, in a sophisticated way, are like self-help, motivational books that offer students support and encouragement. Van de Mark's book is all of these in one.
Throughout my professional career, too, I have depended upon the work of Abraham Maslow, and Maslow's hierarchy of needs appears in many of my textbooks. I have never read Maslow's nineteen specific personality traits that make people exceptional. It is these traits that provide the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings for Van de Mark's book. He offers readers one chapter per trait.
I have to admit that I begin reading books like this one with a great deal of skepticism. Often, there is so much repetition between such books as these, and they reek of common sense and platitudes that offer little that is new. That being said, however, I have often felt that any book or set of ideas that encourage people to become more creative and joyous -- much less admirable! -- is, automatically, useful and valuable. Why not encourage people to improve themselves? I have done the same in a book entitled YOU RULES -- CAUTION -- CONTENTS LEADS TO A BETTER LIFE!
Well, let me tell you, this is really a very well-written book. Although the nineteen traits (autonomous, loving, ethical, unaffected, private, detached, experiential, realistic, laid back, performance and process oriented, egalitarian, jolly, empathetic, dutiful, appreciative, creative, exuberant, joyous, and transcendent) are not earth-shattering, nor do they plow new territory, Van de Mark is a terrific story teller, and along with some well-known celebrities (Warren Buffet, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Charles Schwab, Robin Williams, and Steve Case, to name a few), the book reads easily, comfortably, and will hold your attention.
If you are looking for quick condensations of what he writes in each chapter, read the "Takeaways" he offers at the end of every chapter. It is in those sections, especially, where the self-help orientation of the book is most pronounced. There are always five or six ideas that readers can survey, adopt, internalize, and practice.
Yes, I was impressed. It is clear that this is a well-constructed book. The ideas are interesting, and if you are looking for support and encouragement in your attempts to improve your life, Van de Mark offers a great place to begin your search.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Thomas M. Loarie
- Published on Amazon.com
Author and cable business news (CNBC, CNN) pioneer, Donald Van de Mark, spent more the twenty-five years interviewing prominent people. As a trained observer, he noticed significant differences between the "mega-successful" he covered..."Most were okay; many were obsessed and ruthless, and some were even miserable. Many were feared, if not hated." There also existed a small fraction who were truly joyful, creative, and worthy of admiration. These differences became the catalyst for "The Good Among the Great." Van de Mark developed a compulsion to study these differences then report on what he learned.
Trained as a newsman, he learned to decipher how his subjects' minds and hearts worked and why they were successful. He came to see a thread - "similar attitudes and patterns of behavior - variations on similar themes: what motivates them, how they think and behave, why they do what they do, and why they don't make common mistakes, and why they often forfeit short-term gains." They shared nineteen similar personality traits, which contributed to his/her being a truly great human being. Traits, Van de Mark believes, "you can spot in others and develop within yourself."
These nineteen traits (one trait per chapter) which characterize the most "admirable, creative, and joyful" people include: autonomous, loving, ethical, unaffected, private, detached, experiential, realistic, laid back, performance AND process oriented, egalitarian, jolly, empathetic, dutiful, appreciative, creative, exuberant, joyous, and transcendent. They match up, by no accident, with Abraham Maslow's, the father of positive psychology, nineteen specific traits of exceptional people. Maslow's wisdom, which Van de Mark discovered on his journey, is integrated throughout the book.
Van de Mark uses stories and examples (from people with public personas - Warren Buffet, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, and more - and from others who do not) to "explain why and how the people we admire are as good and happy as they are strong and capable." He provides "takeaways at the end of each chapter."
For example, for the trait Creative... Go out and play! - recover the boundless creative energy you had as a child by:
* Find quiet time regularly, daily. This is your place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.
* Encourage and participate in artistic endeavors.
* Keep a notepad or recorder handy to capture ideas.
* Sensory experience suspends analytical thinking and spurs creativity - immerse yourself in nature.
* Schedule time for daydreaming and time with no purpose.
"The Good Among the Great" inspires by highlighting exceptional people who are stand-out contrarians in a turbulent, self-indulgent world. It also provides a guide for those who have "faith in their own ability to make themselves, their lives, and the lives of those around them better."