UPDATE: The day after I wrote the following review, my Brooklyn apartment building caught fire and I had to escape via fire escape. The fire became a 6-alarm fire and involved about 200 FDNY firefighters, 26 of which were injured. The entire 117-apartment building is now uninhabitable. Not only did we lose our homes, but many of us lost just about everything we own. Having read this book shortly before this disaster helped prepare me for what is, essentially, a life-changing event. It made me aware of my thoughts, especially the negative ones, and I realized immediately that I could either let this disaster become one of the worst things that ever happened to me or find a way to turn it into one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. That level of thinking has proven to be invaluable in staying mentally and emotionally strong through something like this. For me, the greatest value of this book is that it opened my eyes to identify negative thoughts, even the ones I wouldn't normally recognize as negative, and nip them in the bud before they grew into something bigger. No, positive thinking alone doesn't get someone through life's worst curveballs. That would be naive. But it did give me the strength to accept the situation and start working toward the next steps. It allowed me to support others. It allowed me to show gratitude to those who helped. It has allowed me to become a better person as a result of this.
Here's my original review:
It's not surprising to me to learn that only about 20% of individuals and teams are performing at a "true potential" level. It's the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 Rule. What's interesting is that Shirzad Chamine found this to be true through his own research. He also cites several other independent studies, using different criteria, that found the same basic percentage of high performers versus everyone else. Put simply, most people don't reach their full potential because they're caught in a cycle of self-sabotage without even realizing it.
A lot of the value of this book comes from Chamine's defining of 10 specific mental "Saboteurs." It's easy to say "don't think negative thoughts," but a number of the things he considers saboteurs are things that a lot of people, myself included before reading the book, think are actually beneficial ways of thinking. The author's belief, and I agree, is that these mental Saboteurs not only keep most people, to varying degrees, from reaching their full potential, but also keep a lot of people from truly enjoying life, relationships, careers, pretty much anything to the extent that they could and should. By defining them in specific terms and giving them names (e.g. "The Judge"), he makes it easier for readers to identify those types of thought processes when they arise and begin to increase what he calls "Positive Intelligence" or PQ.
Chamine's "system" is actually very simple, yet produces almost immediate results. There's no elaborate formula here. He understands that most of the people this book is written for don't have the time or patience for complex, time-consuming systems--and that most people wouldn't stick with them long enough to develop long-lasting habits. So he focuses on what works, and produces great results in a short amount of time. He offers real-life examples and case studies in the book, but readers can test his system themselves and draw their own conclusions within a few days.
The book is made even more useful by the free self-assessment quizzes and other resources on the companion website. It's one thing to read the book and self-evaluate, but getting an objective and impartial analysis of one's thought processes can be revealing and much more helpful.
All in all, I'm impressed. I've read a number of self-help books, but I like that this one is driven more by results and data than "touchy feely" fluff. Reading the book has made me more aware of my own thinking, especially the so-called "saboteurs." That alone makes reading the book worth it.