The Book of Mistakes: A book review by Bob Morris (2/6)

The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future
Skip Prichard
Center Street Press/Hachette Book Group (February 6, 2018)

“In order to fulfill your dreams, it is imperative to become an asker, a seeker, and a knocker.”

I agree with Skip Prichard that personal growth and professional development require asking difficult questions that need to be answered, seeking what Jim Collins characterizes as “big hairy audacious goals,” and knocking on as many doors of opportunity as possible, kicking in those that discourage others.

In this business fable, Prichard offers three “laws” and nine “mistakes” that serve as a thematic and strategic framework within which he presents the information, insights, and counsel provided in the book. He introduces two protagonists, David and Aria, and a third character — the Old Man — with whom they interact during their shared journey of personal growth and professional development. Other details (background, setting, issues, conflicts, etc.) are best revealed within the narrative, in context, but I can suggest that Prichard is a talented raconteur.

I have no idea how many (if any) of the “secrets” will be news to each of those who read it. As for the “laws,” they are best viewed as forces or sources of energy. With regard to the mistakes, Most of those who read the book have made each of them over the years and repeated several, realizing along the way that such mistakes are easily made but difficult to avoid. In my opinion, each of the three “laws” is best viewed as a driver, a source of energy, or a conviction: Desire (See pages 89-91), Gratitude 117-121), and Belief (167-169).

With regard to the nine mistakes, they are not limited to a workplace context. For example, consider the first two: “Working on someone else’s dream” and “Allowing someone else to define your value.” In his classic work, Denial of Death, Ernest Becker acknowledges that no one can deny physical death but, he asserts, there is a another form of death that can be denied: what occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others expectations of us. Winners have dreams of their own and often need others to achieve their goals but never allow anyone to define their values.

In her book Quirky, Melissa Schilling focuses on eight serial breakthrough innovators, now listed in alpha order: Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Dean Kamen, Elon Musk, and Nicola Tesla. Each of them changed the world in significant ways and did so several times. Over the years, I have known several other people who also were odd, different, eccentric, unorthodox, etc…and they had the intellectual curiosity of a muffin and the brain of a hamster. That could never be said of those who create a successful future…those who are askers, seekers, and knockers.

Sometimes the most valuable lessons to be learned from experiences are revealed by failure, not success. If David and Aria represent young pilgrims in the tradition of John Bunyan, the Old Man obviously symbolizes the accumulated wisdom they aspire to gain and embrace. He is a surrogate for Skip Prichard, to be sure, but as a credible influence, not as a hollow device.





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