Contagious You: A book review by Bob Morris

Contagious You: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want
Anese Cavanaugh
McGraw-Hill (November 2019)

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”  Henry Ford

To what does the title refer? According to Anese Cavanaugh, “contagious means something, a disease or an emotion, feeling or attitude that can be spread from one person to another by direct or indirect contact that is likely to spread and affect others. For good or bad.”

In her previous book, Contagious Culture, Cavanaugh’s focus was on how to establish and then sustain a workplace culture within which positive intentions, energy, and presence (IEP) are most likely to thrive. Now her focus has shifted to how to develop these same qualities in those who comprise the workforce.

Her use of direct address is especially effective. She immediately establishes a rapport with her reader. As she explains, “This book is intended to be an active conversation. I want you thinking with me…Use it as it serves you most. A reminder to read this book through the lens of you — not through the lens of what others may, or may not, be doing well. Do your own work. It will pay off.”

I strongly recommend highlighting key passages and keeping a lined notebook near at hand in which to record comments, questions, page references, etc. as well as to complete various “fieldwork” exercises. This will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later. One final suggestion: Keep in mind that this book is not a work in progress, you are. Be receptive to new ideas, to different perspectives, especially if you supervise direct reports entrusted to your care.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Cavanaugh’s coverage:

o Impacts of contagiousness (Pages 15-18)
o Awareness: Self-assessment (30-48)
o Clarifying desires, intentions, and impact (68-75)
o Four quadrants of energy and presence (91-97)
o Strengthen Your Immunity (99-117)

o The Superpower(129-133)
o Our Magnificent Brain (135-156)
o The Seven Ps of Personal Burnout (157-176)
o “George”/”Georgette” (179-195)
o OPPPE: Other people’s problems, perspectives, and expectations (197-216)

o System Wellness (217-235)
o Bring People with You: Leaders creating other leaders (239-255)
o Team dynamics (257-271)
o Creating a (Positively) Contagious Culture (275-304)
o Principles of contagious (306-307)

This book’s subtitle refers to unlocking power but for many (if not most) of those who read this book, the problem is that their power is under-developed. Oscar Wilde once suggested, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” I agree while presuming the suggest who you are now is not who you will become, for better or worse. Individuals well as organizations need continuous improvement, especially now when the business world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall.

Anese Cavanaugh offers an abundance of information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone to become more clearly intentional, more energetic, and more engaged in all of their relationships. Of course, the ultimate value of this material will depend almost entirely on how effectively each reader absorbs and digests it, then applies it in their own circumstances.

Henry Ford ‘s observation bears repeating: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

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