Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Review: Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

Find Your Strongest Life is subtitled “What the Happiest Women Do Differently”.

What am I doing reading a book for women? Partly, commitment. Earlier this year, I decided to read a minimum of 3 books for women in an attempt to understand my wife better. When Thomas Nelson offered this book through their Book Review Bloggers program, I figured it would help me work toward that goal. I also figured that I know a few women who might benefit from the book, and if I read through it and reviewed it, I could then pass it on.

Will this book be a benefit to women? I don’t know. That’s not because I don’t find the quality of the writing or content to be good. I’m just saying I don’t know. I know enough about women to know that I should stay out of trying to predict them. I hope the book is a benefit to women.

With that out of the way, I’ll focus on content. When I started my current job, I was given the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths”. I was told that my company is a “Strengths Based Organization” and likes to know what the strengths of it’s employees are so that employees can be matched to areas in which they are strong. That just about blew my mind. I read the book and took the test. This book continues on the same lines.

Structurally, the book is 263 numbered pages. It is divided into 3 parts and a total of 14 chapters, plus an introductory section. The introductory section begins with 10 myths about the lives of women and “Not Throwing, But Catching”.

Part 1, Chapters 1-4, is titled “Something’s Gotta Give”. In this section, the groundwork for the book is laid down. In this section, I’ve got to admit, my head started to spin. It begins with a discussion of a workshop that the author put on for the Oprah show, along with responses and questions from women. Many women who were highly successful and well-compensated wrote in absolutely miserable. The book discusses the choices women are under. Should they work? Stay home with kids? Both? Not have kids? The more choices result in more uncertainty and loss of happiness. Seriously, it made my head spin. I think a good way to put this is found on page 32:

And why does an excess of choice paralyze us? According to Schwartz, the psychological result of too many choices is that we’re always in search of an elusive perfection. We don’t just want a pair of jeans. Instead, enticed by rack upon rack, shelf upon shelf, we want the perfect pair of jeans, the best flat-screen TV, the smartest nanny for our kids, the truly perfect job.

Part 2 of the book is “Learn To Live Your Strongest Life”. In this section, the author defines what he considers to be a strong life and provides some case studies. This was good for me. I tend to learn from case studies.

In this section, the Strong Life Test (available at is introduced. Similar to the strengths test from “Now, Discover Your Strengths”. this test is based around 9 “life roles” that women tend to fall into. Each woman apparently has a lead role and a supporting role. Each role is explained along with ways to identify if this is your role and how to make the most of that role.

Part 3 of the book is “Strong Life Tactics”. Each of the 5 chapters in this section is provided in a question and answer format. Each question is addressed with tactics to consider and implement. These questions deal with career, relationships, kids, and future. The final chapter is “Back in the Boat” and includes the closure to one of the case studies earlier in the book.

I think this book was written for a broad appeal, yet doesn’t suffer from the weakness of being “cookie cutter”. I don’t think the book advocates a “one size fits all” approach to a “strong life”. It takes into account different strengths and personalities.

If you buy this book, and it helps you to life a strong life (or even if it doesn’t), let me know in the comments.

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