Monday, October 5, 2009

Review - Find Your Strongest Life

Marcus Buckingham is the author of several excellent books on discovering your strengths and the how and why of using them for a happier and more productive life. I really enjoyed "Now, Discover Your Strengths," and so I was happy to get a review copy of his very latest book, "Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently." I know, I know, I'm not exactly his target audience, but I have a wife, daughter and many friends that I care about and would love to see happy and successful :)

Buckingham addresses some very significant issues in his book, including the question of whether in today's world a woman can truly "have it all"? Fulfilling career, being true to herself, a happy, healthy life outside of work? That can all seem overwhelming, but in his book he tries to convey the keys to help women draw strength from life to feel fulfilled, loved, and in control. This key is based on his research as well as previous work looking at the power of understanding and focusing on your strengths.

The book has three parts. The first looks at the challenges that women face today, and how things have changed over the past decades. He gives some extremely interesting findings from research in this area. These are presented as 'Ten Myths about the Lives of Women'. For example, you might think that with better education, jobs and pay, that women today would feel happier and more fulfilled than forty years ago - not so. You might also be convinced that if only they had more free time, they would feel less stressed. Yet research shows this isn't the case. According to a twenty-five year study each extra hour of free time doubles a man's feelings of relaxation, but does nothing for a woman's. (Don't ask me to explain that one!) The second part of the book gets into the heart of learning to live your strongest life. The central focus here is on his 'Strong Life Test' which considers nine life roles which were unveiled in his research - or 'soul codes' to use Professor James Hillman's phrase. These roles are: advisor, caretaker, creator, equalizer, influencer, motivator, pioneer, teacher, and weaver. Part three gets into some very specific questions, or challenges, faced by women, and how knowing your strengths can help you find and answer to these challenges.

I found the book to be quite interesting, and potentially very useful. As an outsider of sorts, I still found much to think about, and came away with a greater appreciation of the unique challenges women face. (I also found out I seem to fit into roles of teacher and equalizer, if the test is applicable for men!)   The book is not hard to read, and seems to be a decent mix of the soft and hard side of life. I would recommend this book to women who are finding it challenging to find happiness and success in those areas of life which are important to them. The solution he proposes is not to simply "find balance" - in fact one of the best chapters is "Strive for Imbalance." A favorite quote of mine from Buckingham - "Don't try to put in what God left out. Try to draw out what God left in. That's hard enough!"

You can read a preview at the Thomas Nelson publisher website, or get the book at Amazon or other retailers. Or you might start by checking out the free online test directly at (no book purchase required, but to learn how to put the results in practice it will be very helpful).

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