Be Bulletproof: A book review by Bob Morris

Be Bulletproof: How to achieve success in tough times at work
James Brooke and Simon Brooke
Vermillion (2012)

How to “create your own Mongol silk shirt or develop your own bulletproof vest”

The title of my review refers to James Brooke and Simon Brooke’s discussion in the Introduction of two quite different means of self-protection, a silk shirt worn by Mongols and — centuries later — a bulletproof vest. In both instances, the impact of an arrow or a bullet is diffused by the protective surface. “Be Bulletproof provides a range of practical ways in which you can create your own version of the Mongols’ silk shirts and the modern day ‘soft vest.'” The Brookes studied centuries of “the wisdom of ancient thinkers” and lessons to be learned from them that have remained relevant during an extended period of time as the separate but related psychologies of self-defense and interactive communication evolved. Their purpose is to help prepare their readers to avoid or be protected from whatever “attacks” they may encounter in their workplace. “Think of this book as a way of constructing your own bulletproof jacket.”

The Brookes agree with Sun Tzu and with von Clauswitz later  — and I agree with both of them — that it is far better to resolve minor issues when they emerge than to ignore or deny them until they become major crises. Those who achieve success have an advantage unrelated to IQ or natural talent: resilience. They cope effectively with all manner of setbacks. The Brookes share these observations by Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: “For the ones who simply figure that ‘these are just harder problems, I just need to figure out how to do them,’ their confidence remains high, their enjoyment of the [given] task remains high, and their performance gets better and better.”  More often than not, success (however defined) must be achieved despite stiff resistance, formidable barriers, and perhaps even aggressive hostility. “Look at the biological details of most high achievers,” the Brookes suggest. “Far from leading c insistently guilded lives, most of these people spent long periods in the wilderness…For many successful people, there is no epic incident. It is simply a case of turning life’s day-to-day ‘micro-aggression’ into opportunities.”

At this point, I need to emphasize that the Brookes are world-class pragmatists who are determined to find out what works, what doesn’t, and why, then share what they have learned with as many people as possible. The material they share is research-driven, not theory-driven, although they are obviously knowledgable about recent research that challenges well-entrenched assumptions about what the mind is and does, for example, and what motivates people to behave as they do. These are among the explanations they provide:

o  How the bulletproof mind works
0  How to change one’s mindset
o  What “jujitsu communication” is as well as how and when to use it effectively
o  How to handle toxic bosses and other “dementors”
o  How to convert a rejection into a springboard (i.e. “lemons to lemonade”)
o  How to decontaminate toxic feedback and resist ogher assaults
o  How to turn around failures and setbacks
o  How to win in the face of politics and ostracism
o  Hos to deliver feedback in a way that works
o  What “bulletproof reinforcenent is as well as how to obtain it and when to use it most effectively

And then in the last Chapter, the Brookes provide “The Bulletproof Toolkit — 82 Ways to Br Bulletproof.” Of course, the Brookes realize and fully understand why — as Achilles did not — no one can ever be fully protected by shirts, vests, etc. At best, their book can help substantially to improve one’s chances for success, not only at work but also in all other areas of one’s life. With all due respect to the value of the “82 ways,” I think those who reads this book must accept the fact that they cannot control or even much of what happens to them but they [begin italics] can [end italics] assume full responsibly for how they respond, especially during “tough times.”

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