Ethelbert Obinna Umeh – Assessments

As A Man Thinketh
Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The story of every successful person is always in stages- often times rising from nobody to somebody (from grass to grace). The biography of the world revolves around the stories of great people. Inspiration and motivation are the keys that unlock the doors of excellence for many people.

This book has shown that positive thinking is a panacea to success in life- your life can change within a flash, if you are a positive thinker. Our thinking shapes us in a great way.
You will never go wrong if you can think effectively, because you will believe in yourself even when others tells you it cannot be possible. A strong–willed person can never give up in the face of difficulties, because he has a good mental attitude.
But if you are a bad thinker or a negative thinker, you will continue to experience deteriorating health or sickness- I will still come back to this assertion in the latter part of this description, because this is the main point I disagreed in James Allen’s book.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

I took time to read this book- I read it more than ten times before penning down my thoughts. The author raised a lot of ideas; some he discussed in detail, while others he didn’t want to go into details. But, there are few thoughts that were really exceptional. I am what I think my character is the overall thought of myself.

The author is simply a teacher- the duty of a teacher is not just to teach, but also to inspire the students. I was not just educated, or informed, but also inspired just by going through the pages of this publication.

All through this book, I was able to sieve out seven enduring ideas- these ideas will stick to my memory as long as memory last.

Character is the complete sum of all our thoughts.

This implies that our thoughts help in making us who we are and what we become. Acts are deliberately executed, because they spring from the inner self. Your thinking goes a long way in molding your character.

B. Man is the lord and master of his thoughts.

Man holds the key to his success- he is solely responsible for his actions. Some people may have the opinion that they are responsible or are major determinants of our successes in life, but this is a fallacy. You will succeed if you have made up your mind to embrace all your challenges and to learn from your failures. You will succeed if you have decided to listen to your thoughts. Your thought is your life.

C. Man has the transformative effect inherent in him- man has the right to transcend from the present predicament to a higher state of being.

Scientists and anthropologists believe that man has the power to go beyond the present difficulties. James Allen must be a seasoned thinker or a philosopher for maintaining that we are responsible for our thoughts.

D. There is nothing like chance- our thoughts can either make or mar us; “As a man Thinketh, so he is.”

No man will ever achieve his potentials if he fails to think creatively and intelligently. The truth is that if you can conceive in your thought about a good project, then it is achievable, all you need to do is to embrace determination, and courage. You may be distracted by some envious people, who will keep telling you that your dreams can never be actualized. Don’t believe them; keep moving on, success will be yours at the end of the day.

E. Good thoughts produce good habits; just like bad thoughts produce bad habits; the same thing applies to good habits.

In the natural world, men are conversant with this assertion. However, in the mental world, only few people are aware of it. Corn cannot produce anything outside corn. An orange tree for instance will produce only oranges- if you have good thoughts, then positive things will follow you, if you choose reverse, then expect a reverse outcome- this is the thesis of the author.

F. Believe in your dreams.

You must have absolute trust in your dreams at all times. We shouldn’t be occupied most by what others tell us; instead we should be guided by the dictates of our own thoughts.

G. You ceases to be a man when revile and whine.

Man can either take responsibility for his actions or accept responsibilities on whatever comes out of it; whatever that comes out of not doing the right things.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas contained in this book are enormous- I am influenced greatly by them. Most often, people are influenced by the circumstances around them or even by what others told them. This makes them to lose faith in their own beliefs. This book is an eye-opener- we will be doing ourselves great disservice by neglecting our thoughts. I am true to myself when I have sublime faith in my ideas and thoughts. Ideas rule the world.
Every man is unique and indispensable- there will be no another you. You are created to make an impact on the sands of time, and nobody should stop you from actualizing your possibilities. It is possible to turn our hidden thoughts into practical reality. All these require courage.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

The author spent time in telling us the importance of listening to our thoughts. Though, this book is short, yet it is loaded with meanings. There are lots of things to occupy our brains, but the following were my favorite quotes:

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state.”

The summary of this thought is that nobody speaks from nowhere, and out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. You become a success if you have conditioned yourself to be so. Having a positive mental attitude will help you to conquer all the issues that becloud one’s daily existence.

“Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.”

Having a right thought is a way of exhibiting your self-mastery- you are not a true success, until you have mastered yourself.

“As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

We are made by our thoughts. The easiest way for people to judge us by our thoughts and actions.

“A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses.”

You can only limit yourself if you wish to do so. To benefit from this book, every reader should ponder every line of it- it is a powerful resource material, a book on positive mental attitude and self-reliance.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

James Allen tried in his analysis, but I totally disagree with him on his view that illnesses are as a result of impure thoughts. Man is solely responsible for his actions- both the things he does, and the ones he omits. Not all sicknesses are fruits of bad thoughts or sin.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes,the author discussed ‘character’ as the sum of our thoughts. This is the most essential ingredient of leadership. Other aspects of character are empathy, capacity, humility, intelligence, thoughtfulness, toughness and so on. if you don’t have good character, it will be difficult to lead others in the right track. Character is the life-wire or destiny of the society. It is important that people trust their leaders.

Leadership is all about doing the right things at the right time; failure to do the right thing implies that we are ineffective. Thus, I expected some questions to focus on this important aspect of leadership, character, but it was not found. Besides this, other things were handled in an excellent manner.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful was the content? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you will give it? 10



Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

In this book, Richard Bach presents a comprehensive philosophy of life and how it ought to be lived. This literary masterpiece revolves around a personality- the activities of Jonathan Livingston. All Seagulls believe that the ultimate purpose of life is to eat and merry. In their view, flying is the safest way of achieving this end.

Flying is the only purpose of existence for Jonathan. This was the reason why he invested all his time learning new flying techniques, for the purpose of achieving perfection. His behavior was judged unacceptable, and because of that he was banned, yet Jonathan was unrepentant, he accepted his fate as an outcast and continued flying and developing new flying skills.
He had a sense of vision and mission- and he had solemn belief in his ideas. When you have good ideas and the motivation to hold those ideas, you will surely places- this is exemplified all through this book.

He had an unwavering love for flight and thus gathered a dedicated group that was passionate about flying just like him. All through this book, Jonathan exhibited a hunger for learning how to fly –exploring flying, and he refused to accept defeat, amazingly, he achieved success at the end of the day.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

Here’s what I thought was important and why:

A. Freedom

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is an inspiring masterpiece that emphasizes freedom in all we do and say. Earlier before now, I had been skeptical about freedom- thinking that it is not attainable, but this book has opened my eyes. The sky will be the beginning of our excellence when we begin to exercise freewill. If you have faith in your ideas, everything is achievable- you can achieve it even when your tribe, friends, siblings, and neighborhood think it is a herculean or impossible task. The book devotes time in teaching and mentoring us –young leaders. Our ultimate goal in existence is to be visionary leaders; leaders of thought. Success favors the strong-willed.

B. Journey of the soul

This book can be categorized to any type of genre. For me, it is a journey of the soul- the soul is restless until it reaches its destination. If you are angry or depressed, this is the type of book that will rejuvenate your spirit- it is a mine of wealth, a book on leadership, adventure, innovation, flying, spiritual advancement, and self-improvement. I have read it cover to cover, and am excited beyond words.

C. A philosophical story

Everything about Jonathan Seagull is quite philosophical. As a trained philosopher, I know that everybody has different perceptions and orientation when we are reading literary materials. I am particularly touched while reading this, because it helps me in reflecting about my own life. By reading it, I am encouraged to believe in myself, and not to listen to the feelings and thoughts of those that believe I can’t make it. The meeting of Jonathan with Chiang and Sullivan were quite significant- it paved way for his development and growth. Certain people can really help us in actualizing our potentials.

D. Never underestimate your potential

We should always look beyond our imagination and visible capabilities- this is the summary of this great book. Man has millions of untapped potentials inherent in him. Recognizing this fact will save us from a lot of embarrassment.

E. Being perfect

The author of this book is an excellent teacher; he showed us the way to achieve perfection.

F. The book is about people, not birds

The book revolves around the activities of people, not birds; it gives us a comprehensive overview about the ultimate meaning of life. We are here to create a meaning for ourselves- to strive to reach perfection in everything we do.

G. Jonathan Livingston Seagull

This is a story about self-perfection, and understanding the true meaning of life. Jonathan though sick and tired of the uninspiring life around him, didn’t want to lose hope, he still move on to get the best for himself at the end of the day, success was at his doorstep. This book has taught me that success is all about rising beyond seeming limitations.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas mentioned above are deeply great. Just like I have mentioned above, the book is a philosophical reflection, which will help its reader to reflect on life and circumstances. It is a story about searching for meaning and freedom. It is good to be free. Richard Bach has taught me the principles through this inspiring literary excellence.

I can achieve anything, if I can conceive the idea, then it is possible. It is purely a self- motivational or empowerment material. To achieve success, I need to condition my mind for it, and then work assiduously for it. I can never regret doing it.
No one has ever achieve success or excellence without paying the price- excellence is all about constant practicing, being alone, leaving the flock and so on. Even when you try hard, there is the possibility of witnessing initial failures, this is why it is necessary to keep pursuing on.

Personally, I will take a leaf from Jonathan who refused to be discouraged even in the face of hurricane forces. He is a good listener, and was always calm and unassuming. He takes time in studying issues before making a decision, but his greatest worry was that other gulls were myopic to see that there is more to life than mere ordinary or living at the average.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

As ardent readers of this book, so many comments occupied my thoughts but due to want of space, I will only mention and explain these:

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

This comment is quite thoughtful, it is not good to believe everything that eye can perceive. Philosophers have this belief that appearance deceives. Thus, there is a huge difference between appearance and reality. The second line is telling us to find out what we know already and then fly with it. Some people may not believe in our ideas but we should have strong faith so as to conquer our fears. Fear is the greatest enemy of our success, and leadership. Any leader that lacks the capacity to be bold will not go far. A true leader is full of sense of vision and mission, as a leader, let your ideas flow. Never underestimate your leadership potentialities or capabilities.

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now and nothing can stand in your way.”

“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all.”

These are another powerful statements coming from our author. Freedom with responsibility remains the ultimate price of greatness and success. If you are not free, you will not have the courage to move on. You will never go wrong by being free.

“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.”

Ignorance kills, and it limits your potentials. Education or intelligence paves way for excellence. Knowledge is power only when it is applied to pragmatic usage. We can never be called wise people when we are ignorant.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

No. I am comfortable with all the things discussed. The author is a good writer. Thumbs up for him. He has touched my life in an amazing ways. I am highly excited.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No. Overall, the questions asked were great. It perfectly covered all the scenarios in Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful was the content? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 6
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you will give it? 10




Keys to Success

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success is a power-packed strategies or plans for achieving maximum personal, life and business successes. It is better than most of the books on self-help I have read over the years. I have been reading self-help books for more than 15 years, most of them were just mere wishful thinking, but this book is particularly unique. If one can internalize these 17 amazing principles, then success will be achievable.

Honestly, after going through this book, my life was transformed beyond my imagination. I marveled at his deep analytical skills and communication, very thought provoking, no wonder he is such a fine motivational speaker, orator, writer and guru the world had known.

He is a lover of wisdom. This wisdom is not just supernaturally infused, but the type that he developed over time through contacts with great men and women of history. It is quite lovely to have a deep romance with the ideologies of great people, especially those that have passed through varied problems of life, yet remain unruffled.

He was careful not to mix his principles with religion. The philosophy of success can be applied profitably to anything in life. He talked about leadership, when he was referring to organized planning, imagination, decision making, specialized knowledge, creative vision, teamwork and so on- all these principles were marks of a true leader.

This is one of the books that I keep reading again and again. The more I go through it, the more I receive more insights about life and circumstances surrounding it. The book has occupied a special place in my library. Our successes are determined by what we can think. The author is a proactive thinker!

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

Well, Hill’s books have sold millions of copies worldwide, because of the outstanding impacts it has made on people. Personally, these seven principles occupy a special place in my life:

Here, he was talking about a valuable asset, the advantages of purpose, the power of the subconscious, putting definiteness of purpose to work, creating a plan, success is a worthy goal, creating opportunity. One will never succeed without asking in a consistent consistency, the fundamental questions, ‘where am I going?’ what is my purpose in life and so on. This is the starting point or point of departure of every achievement. I have taken time to read through most of the people that have experienced lasting success, and discovered that their secrets lie in defining their goals and pursuing them with courage despite the odds.

When we talk about a mastermind- we are referring to two-like minds working together in teamwork toward achieving a formidable success. This implies among other things, using the training, experience as well as knowledge of others- learning from their mistakes and emulating their successes. More so, our author elaborated in great deal other nice concepts like, forming a mastermind alliance, maintaining your alliance, forming a mastermind alliance with yourself, cultivating mastermind alliance anywhere you find yourself etc. I am deeply enriched by these amazing revelations.

iii. Use applied faith.

I have learned that faith is power only when it is applied to usage. Napoleon Hill defined faith as ‘…your awareness of, belief in, and harmonizing with the universal powers…’ faith is something we should try to have, and not just having it, but making proper use of it. Applied faith refers to making use of infinite intelligence / wisdom, overcoming disbelief, overcoming fear, replacing faith with hope, and demonstrating the power of your faith. Once you close the door of fear around you, the door of hope will appear- that is the secret of life. Thus we usually hear this common aphorism that “when one door closes, thousands opens.”

He started this chapter by narrating his encounter with Andrew Carnegie who says, ‘there are two types of people who never amount to anything. There are those who cannot even do what they are told to do. The people who get ahead do the things that should be done without being told. And they don’t stop there. They go the extra mile and do much more than is expected of them’ realizing our personal goals would be a herculean task if we fail to take cognizance of personal initiative- this is the main factor that brings in opportunity, attention and advancement. Without mincing words, he described the main attributes of personal initiative as, adopting major purpose, self-reliance, self-discipline, persistence, well-developed imagination, going the extra mile, generating and controlling enthusiasm. Personal initiative creates the future, work, advancement etc.

v. Go the extra mile.

Going the extra mile is a state of mind that one should strive to develop at all times. It is part of everything we do. Our author cited example of how Edward C. Barnes persistence got him a job as a handyman to Thomas Edison. Going the extra mile involves hardship, challenges, but it will bring lots of benefits at the long run. His law of increasing returns states that the quality and quantity of the extra service you are rendering will return to you greatly multiplied. More so, gaining favorable attention, becoming indispensable, self-improvement, opportunity, favorable contrast, personal initiative, pleasing attitude, overcoming procrastination, have great roles to play in extra mile. I was excited beyond words to read about his ‘extra mile Formula’. I am aware that if I can apply the virtues of persistence, and courage just like Barnes did- I will move mountains. Life is what I make of it.

Teamwork makes the company goes round. As a leader, one should master the art of using the services of employees. The spirit of teamwork will benefit both the client and the employees-friendly cooperation. This is one of the secrets behind the successes of many multinational firms in economically advantaged nations in the world. No man is an island. We need the cooperation of others to succeed, if you think you don’t need the services of others, then it is either you are a god or lower animals. Many people that have contributed immensely towards the advancement of civilizations were able to do so through the cooperation of others. Just to cite one example, Michelangelo depended greatly upon the craftsmen, assistants, and patrons and so on, and these people helped in enhancing his work.

The last but not the least is learning from defeat. Almost everyone on the planet earth faces one type of defeat or the other. For you to attain success, you must experienced at least a setback- this setback if it is not well handled may even make you to contemplate quitting. But defeat is meant to help us remain focus to our major purpose- allowing us to remain faithful to our goals. When you are defeated, try to learn from it-learn from your ignorance and never give up; that is the overall message.

Yes, just like I have said above. Napoleon Hill gave me certain basic principles that I should apply every day of my life despite the challenges. I am on the move to create a better world.

I have a definite purpose; to make a lasting impression on any person or organization that comes across me. Let me cite one example, I have been teaching in an institution for two years, Calvary International Secondary School, Owerri, Nigeria.

At the end of the first academic year, I was awarded the “Teacher of the year 2012.” This year again, I received a similar award as the “The Most inspiring/enterprising teacher of the year 2013.” I am the brain behind their school magazine – “The Young Genius Magazine;” the maiden edition came out in September 2013.

I am not yet done with the school; I still have some quality programs that will inspire the students in an amazing way. I am their French teacher, and I believe that by the time I am up to 3 years here, more than 90% of students that have passed through me will be able to write, speak and communicate with French fluently.

I am putting in my best, and I can see the results and dreams coming to fulfillment. This book has offered me the keys to achieve this goal before the end of the third year. If I had read this book two years ago, I would have achieved this dream in one year and six months. In any case, I am happy reading it at this time.

Thus, the principles garnered in this literary masterpiece will help me in a great way. I am happy; I was able to read this book at this point in my life. I will surely share the ideas of this book to my colleagues, friends, students and in any organization I find myself tomorrow. I can now think in a better way. The young ones deserve to be empowered, in order to be visionary, and to make a towering impact on the sands and hearts of human historicity.

He made so many outstanding quotations, but let me just cite one:

“There is more to effective speech than the vital aspect of appropriate word choice. Combining frankness, word choice, and other aspects of a pleasing personality will make you a powerful communicator able to speak with conviction and persuasion, whether you are addressing a convention, a roundtable or one person. Dramatic, inspiring speech has had incredible influence on the course of civilization. The destiny of nations has been changed and defined by the power of those who know how to speak effectively, and those people have earned a permanent place in history.”

This particular quotation is timely- it encourages me to keep on keeping on. Apart from online freelance writing, freelance journalism and teaching. I am also a motivational speaker, and I enjoy doing it, because of the great influence my words have on people especially on the downtrodden, the lonely, the unloved, the youths, and the helpless. My studies in philosophy and currently, my romance with this book are helping me to achieve one of my ultimate dreams of becoming a world-class speaker. I will no longer be dreaming, instead while others are busy wishing, I will enter actions with boldness.

No he spent time analyzing all the concepts.

Yes. In chapter 18, our author presented a comprehensive overview of the seventeen principles of Success. He dedicated some time to list and explain them with relevant examples one after the other, and even asked us to be going through it once a week, this will help us to know when we are making progress in each of the areas. The starting point of all worthwhile achievements starts with having high, desirable, outstanding goal, and keeps it ever before you. So, I went through them, and I will continue to do so as to achieve optimal success.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Real Magic

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is an inspirational masterpiece. He noted that it is a book about miracles- not really miracles in other people, but about you, and how you can enhance yourself with miracles. His analysis was extraordinary; detailing both the theories and practical ways of achieving miracles in life.

I have read a lot of books in my life about miracles, divine feeling, blessings, graces, healing and spirituality written by theologians, scriptural analysts, preachers, teachers, psychologists and even Christian philosophers, but none have had a deeper influence more than this book apart from the Bible; the Holiest book of all times.

I picked up the book, and within two days, I started to see life and the universe in a more dignifying manner- I have also reached out to so many people through the principles garnered from this book, who currently see me as God-sent to their lives.

By reading this book, I have moved beyond the realm of believing or goal setting to a more higher level of what the author calls knowing and then acting on what I know. This is the realm of making maximum use of the limitless possibilities inherent in us. Real magic occurs at this stage – here, you meet the right person, book, tape or whatever that will help you to achieve your dreams of prosperity and abundance.

He advised the reader to be ever-committed to inner transformation, maintaining that miracles are within our reach. Quoting an Ancient Zen proverb which says, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will appear’ if we are truly determined to experience real magic, and to live by it, it will surely happen.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

In this book, Wayne Dyer listed seven beliefs for manifesting real magic; they are capable of helping us actualize real magic. Once we can adopt them, we will surely become our personal miracle worker:

He admonished us on the importance of living lives that transcends the physical universe or body. He is talking of a divine Life, the life of God within us. Being created in the image and likeness of God-we are equipped with this divine life. Though death can deprive us of our mortal bodies, but our souls are meant to live for eternity.

ii. Your thoughts are something that you control and they originate with you.

Here, he is referring to the power of thoughts; thinking is a necessary condition for recording, and processing our overall human experience; feelings, fantasies, dreams, and emotions. Our thinking reveals that we are humans- better than the lower animals. Thinking is specifically a human enterprise. Lower animals, can relate with each other, but they cannot think. Both our past and future lies in our thoughts. The best way to stop participating in our physical world is to cease thinking creatively. I have really discovered that miracles can come to those that believe in the beauty of their thoughts.

Life is full of endless possibilities. There is more to life than what we can perceive or see. We are living in a free world, it is easy to mingle and communicate with people, though some have forgotten that it is a small world also. Some people believe that anything that cannot be proved scientifically does not exist. But this logic is faulty. God cannot be proved by science, but He Exists. Many years ago, a lot of things were though impossible, such as the microscope, telephones, remote control, interplanetary movements and so on. Currently, we are at the apex of civilization; the 21st century, and we have come to realize that these and many more are possibilities. So, we should believe in limitless opportunities and possibilities; anything is achievable.

Wayne refers the universe (body) as an intelligent system. Both our thoughts and feelings are products of the system. We can never separate ourselves from it, but instead make maximum use of our time, and talents. We should always move towards the purposeful path, creating magical life. To insist that we must continually be the way we have always been is to argue against the law of success. We have the power to create the type of person we want to be, and this applies to all areas of life, both in self-improvement, relationships, and spirituality.

v. You overcome weakness by leaving them behind.

You will never transcend your weaknesses and limitations if you fix your minds on them. The right thing to do is to put them behind you, and move on. This art of leaving them behind must start from your thoughts. This book has taught me that I will create the real magic, by letting go the old habits, especially if the old habits are not worth living. We shouldn’t let our past to destroy our present so that our future does not suffer.

vi. When you examine what you believe to be impossible, you can then change your beliefs.

Always subscribe to possibilities- this is the only way to actualize your potentialities whether it is related to relationships, physical achievements, finances, health, calling or vow etc. In this case, one doesn’t have to do things differently, instead having a positive mindset, and believing in the art of performing miracles, believing in the universal and eternal powers that have worked for others in the past.

If anyone has migrated from sickness to health, fat to slim, poor to rich, addiction to choice, miserable to happy, clumsy to agile, discontentment to fulfillment, if it has worked for them, then it will surely work for you. Have a strong faith, believe in God, and believe in yourself. Even if it has never occurred before, so far a human person is able to think about it, then there is a possibility of it coming to fulfillment in your life. Commit yourself to work right now, and see it happening.

vii. You can go beyond logic.

Life is larger than logic, though it may be difficult for one not to use their rational thinking in solving myriad issues of life, but it is important to note that everything doesn’t depend on scientific validation or logic. Don’t be limited to your five senses, believing only things you can smell, touch, feel, see, thought or dream, real magic and miracle making are not limited by them either. There is more to life than these. There is a spiritual dimension that transcends the boundaries and scope of the universe

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The lessons in this book are enormous. At first, we should see ourselves as spiritual beings, before noting our physical potentialities. After all, we are created in the image and likeness of God according to the Biblical account of creation. This affirms his assertion that if we can conceive an idea, then we can achieve it.

In the past, some people have allowed their immediate circumstances to determine their course of action-believing that since they came from poor background or origin, that it will be impossible achieving a great task in future. Happiness is the ultimate goal of man, and to succeed in our path to it, we must have absolute believe in miracles. Thumps up to this amazing author.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Reserve your judgment and disbelief.”

When I am in doubt about anything, the right thing to do should be to reserve action, till I am cleared 100%. Whenever one act in doubt, there is a great possibility of acting in error.

“Affirm yourself as a no-limit person.”

Man is a bundle of potentialities; we need to continuously celebrate our possibilities. Philosophers, psychologist, theologians and our author have taught me this fact. Once I recognize and utilize the possibilities inherent in me, I will move mountains.

“Practice daily meditation.”

Doing this will help me to get strategize for the day. I have discovered that when I meditate about my past actions, I perform better.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I acknowledge, this is a spiritual book, I also recognize the fact that there is no perfect work in the world. My reservations are multiple, but let me state only two:

He didn’t dwell more on the importance of acquiring academic knowledge or mental emancipation. Even the Bible recognizes that ‘My People perish for lack of wisdom’. If your mind is actively developed, you will be able to discern when to go beyond the physical realm to the spiritual or when to base your analysis on the physical happenings. Knowledge is power, so its importance cannot be overemphasized.

Instantly I disagreed with him, when I see him dedicating the book to Michael Jackson. According to him (Michael Jackson, whose words, music, and love reminds us that it is only through giving, that we are saving our own lives). In as much as I recognize Michael Jackson as a great secular musician or pop singer the world had known, but he wasn’t my favorite, besides, I didn’t know him as a philanthropist. So, I wonder why Dr Dyer should dedicate this spiritual masterpiece to such a secular and carnal man.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No, there were no exercises in the book I read.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No, these questions already examined were a comprehensive analysis of the entire work.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The New Dynamics of Winning

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The New Dynamics of Winning is a book that explains how we can think like champions. The author has taken time to go through some of the great champions in the world both in the business and sporting arenas, and was able to come up with this amazing literary excellence.

For more than two years, I have come in contact with the writings of Denis Waitley. I have read The Joy of Working, Timing is Everything, Seeds of Greatness and Empires of the Mind but this one is quite commendable.

The overall aim of this book is to motivate readers to think like champions if we will achieve maximum success in all our endeavors. This is a book that prepares one for success. Everybody wants to be a success / champion. Failure is what we abhor.

Denis Waitley shared wonderful principles that will make an average person into becoming a great champion- this entails practicing goals that leads to success. He garnished his writings with stories, and charts in an easy and readable way.

On a personal basis, the book motivated in a great way. Most of the principles I have gotten here cannot be got from academic institutions. I understand now that it is better to do something instead of nothing. I received a better training from this book that I will never regret.

I have no doubt that I will surely make a great difference in my life, community, and world at large. This is the difference that I am working consistently every day. This book came as a booster or roadmap to that ultimate dream. It is a mark of nobility to challenge any unbearable situations in our lives, such as the fear of success, fear of change, fear of failure or fear itself.

The moment we start to challenge these things then, fear itself will be put into extinction. Knowledge and determination are what we need to do these things; they are qualities of a champion. I am the leader of my life; I have also learnt how to have respect for others, love them deeply and truly, and also how to acquire hard work, and integrity.

Denis Waitley identified seven traits of a genuine leader and they have helped me in mastering the art of leadership. They are as follows:

i. Question your motives daily.

Before making any decision either personal or professional, it is important to note if what we are making is true, and will it be beneficial and fair to all concerned. This is the most effective way of ensuring success.

ii. Its show not tell

It is safer to show people how to do things (by doing it yourself) than telling them to do it themselves. It is also a mark of humility and nobility to do so. Once you are humble in your dealings with people, you will be exalted in due time.

iii. Be your own investigative reporter.

The author tells me to be imagining myself as my own investigative reporter. I am a journalist, though I have flair for investigative journalism, but this book has ignited that flair. The author admonished that i should pretend that I am following myself everywhere; at work, travelling, in my hotel room, in my home, tapping in my phone and secretly opening my mail. He now inquired the type of story, I will write!

This is food for thought and examination of conscience. When we will do these things sincerely, there is a high possibility of living better, living life with character, avoiding public scandals, and living with enviable reputation. Integrity is absolute and should be encouraged at all times.

iv. Be loyal to your inner circle.

Honesty and loyalty are true marks of a real top executive. He nominated H. Ross Perot, as a real-life role model we should emulate at all times. The inner circles shouldn’t be neglected especially when it is inevitable to take certain decisions for our organizations- the views of our inner circles ought to be sought- this will even help us in making a better decision, if we fail to do so, they may plan our downfalls out of desperation and envy.

v. Follow through

Words are cheap, we must back them with actions. Integrity demands making people to believe in you, and trust in you? A true leader makes promises and pronouncements and lives by them. He is not one that says one thing and does the direct opposite of it.

vi. Look up to those beneath you

Do not derive joy or be quick in assigning blames to your co-workers or subordinates. A good leader or manager should be more concerned on asking subordinates what he / she can do for them, so as to enhance their productivity and efficiency. Your role as a leader is to be a bridge builder, a motivational figure, and always dedicated to resolving conflicts and meeting the organizational goals.

vii. Learn to watch your watch

Every time is a precious opportunity to do something meaningful. I understand that the same time was given to the movers and shakers of the world- Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Mozart, Handel, and Einstein. We shouldn’t waste any moment or spend it on frivolities. Any activity that we don’t have the required talent, interest and time should be avoided. More so, we should develop a great part of our time to any issue or problem that demands much of our time. Any time that is gone is gone forever, and there is nothing we can do about it. Time waits for nobody; the earlier the better. Time flies; Tempus Fugit says a Latin adage.

I am working daily to better my life – to be a good leader; a leader with respect and wisdom, one that will build goodwill and better friendship both locally and globally. This is why I believe that it is not by accident that I read this book. I came across it for a purpose.

In all my dealings, I will try the best I can to abide by these aforementioned principles, because they have been tested and trusted. Good leaders don’t impose their beliefs and principles on others. In midst’s of adversities, they use dialogue and other channels of conflict resolutions- indeed they are peace makers.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

So many things captured my attention, but let me just cite these ten do’s and don’ts of quality leadership, which can be applied both in our work and in raising our families- some were his personal suggestions while others were culled from the writings of Dr. William Mitchell and Dr. Charles Paul Conn.

Listen often and as much as possible to what others say, and try to do so without prejudgment

The gift of listening is an effective leadership skill that I should acquire at all times. It is even good having a role model or mentor that one will be following his / her footsteps.

“Don’t put anyone off or penalize anyone in any way for asking questions.”

People ask questions to get clarified or for more analysis, so it is a social evil to penalize anybody for asking even the funniest or simplest question.

“Use praise frequently and sincerely.”

Always compliment people when they do the right thing, say what you mean.

“If you feel that criticism is definitely required, don’t do it in front of others.”

It is not good to single someone out in public, no matter the issue, though you can give a general correction. Singling someone out in public is the easiest way to damage his / her self-esteem or reputation. People will admire you most if you can give them the advice in private.

“Be firm and be fair.”

Once you are saying reasonable things, people will appreciate your thoughts as long as the speech lasts, but you must be careful not to nag or give orders unnecessarily.

“Plan leisure and recreational activities that everyone can do together.”

This can take the form of retreats, seminars, conferences, trainings, or company outings where employers and employees can participate together. If you have kids, try as much as you can to take them to your office or place of work occasionally, let them know how you spend your time when you are not within their reach- it is not good to separate your family life with your professional life.

“Don’t be afraid to share your concerns with others.”

The true meaning of courage is not the absence of fear, but your confidence and action when you are faced with fear. Admit your weakness, anxiety, and fear, but don’t imperil your mission.

“Don’t make rash promises and don’t be inconsistent.”

Consistency is a mark of originality. People will gradually lose respect for you, and avoid you as a leader if you are fond of making rash promises, and if what you say does not correspond with your action. In this case, you are finished.

“Whenever you are in a leadership role, focus your supervision on teaching effective habits, and skills, not in looking for mistakes.”

The emphasis here is setting good example, living a remarkable life, and always utilize good habits, and finally

“Encourage everyone in both your personal and your professional life to speak up and express their own ideas, even if you disagree with them.”

Irrespective of the varied differences in ideologies; try to treat them with respect and courtesy, just as you would like to receive. This is one of the things that bring people close to you.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?


In fact, after going through his twenty-one day training program, I had no option but to genuflect at his intellection. The plan asks us to set two goals, one personal and the other career-related. More so, the plan offers us an opportunity of looking at our lives in a more organized and motivated way. After going through this book, and spending 21 days of my life going through the exercises, I can now say that I am a champion- I think like champions.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.
A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Giant Steps

Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Based on the great principles, finest tools, and excellent strategies propagated in his earlier best -selling book, Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins went ahead in this book to offer small actions and daily inspirational exercises that will energize one to move forward in this amazing journey called life, improving the quality of life is the hallmark of his writing.

He shows us how to redefine the quality of our emotions, health, finances and relationships both vertical and horizontal. All we need is a little investment of our time. With this book, you will move from grass to grace, from nobody to somebody, from nothing to something, from one level of excellence to the next- the list is endless.

The book contains daily reminders that will better our lives. I have taken time to go through it four consecutive times, and I gain more meanings and insights after each reading and I would love to keep doing so.

Giant Steps is more than a semester work on motivation and self-sufficiency/ self-reliance. I believe so much that I will take absolute control of my life if I can observe the principles herein- the principles were explained in a simplified format.

This excellent literary masterpiece can be referred to as a mine of wealth, a source book of inspiration, a veritable goldmine, and resource material that will assist you in your daily undertakings; useful any day any time. A timeless gift to humanity.

While writing the introduction, he says that he had two goals; first to inspire the reader, and secondly to funnel that energy into measurable results by getting you to consistently take simple actions. I wish to state here that I am one of the greatest beneficiaries of Robbins’ goals.

In the course of going through this amazing book, these seven ideas got my attention and engaged my thought for a while. They are:

i. Decisions and goal setting

Our lives are full of dreams, we can make a difference, both individually and collectively, we can touch lives in special ways, we can make the world a great and better place to be. The author advises that we should always take a moment to pause and ponder on our dreams; this will help in determining our destinies. As a Christian analyst, I will add praying over our dreams is a necessary condition for maximum or optimum results.

ii. Personal development goals

Robbins asked us to take at least five minutes of our time to ponder or brainstorm over all the possibilities; sense of well-being and enrichment is the beginning of great achievements in life. It is necessary to give all our goals, a timeline, it could be 6 months, one year, and so on, and we should state why we must achieve this goal within the given timeframe and work towards the targets we have set for ourselves.

iii. Career/business/economic goals

No matter our goals and aspirations, Robbins talked about making sure that we dedicate hard work and good amount of courage to it, whether the dream is to be extremely prosperous, amassing millions in career , business, economic power, or becoming a professional student. He didn’t fail to suggest the importance of giving each of these goals a timeline.

iv. The secret of living is giving

I have lived my life, believing that it is through giving that we receive. It is in fact noble to give. Giving in its entirety involves giving our time, finances, talents, treasure and otherwise to better someone’s life. Giving is geared towards serving the other. I am currently writing a book on giving, where I am boring my heart on some of my personal beliefs and principles with few practical and Biblical references.

v. Three levels of certainty; opinion, belief and conviction

Opinions are based on transitory perceptions, beliefs on experiences and convictions by high emotional intensity. I cannot enter an action or do something if I am not convinced of it.

vi. Two secrets for changing your emotional state instantly

First to shift our mental focus, when I think of one of the great memories in my life, it makes me feel great, the second is changing focus; it is all about changing our emotional state of mind- the most effective way of doing it is through our physical body or psychology. This is why when some people are uncomfortable with how they feel, they will eat, smoke, drink alcohol, and sleep, others can as well sing, dance, play, gym, exercise or make love with their partners- they believe doing so, will give them happiness, though to some extent it does.

vii. Leaders are readers

You cannot be an effective leader, if you are not an ardent reader. Every reader should nourish their lives with powerful, motivational, problem-solving reading materials- this will surely give them insights and strategies to lead well.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The seven ideas I mentioned and explained earlier were not the only things that caught my attention, but they were particularly unique because of the way Anthony Robbins explained them. I have already applied them in my life- surely; my life is and can never be the same again.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The more decisions you make, the better you’ll become at making them. Muscles get stronger with use, and so it is with your decision making muscles.”

The more decisions you make, the better you perform.

“The secret of unleashing your true power is setting goals that are exciting enough that they inspire your creativity and ignite your passion.”

We can never become better if we fail to set exciting goals; goals have the propensity to ignite our passions and inspire creativity.

“If I continue to ask any question, I will certainly receive an answer.”

If I am good in asking questions, I will certainly get better answers from my superiors and friends.

“Courage unused diminishes; commitment unexercised wanes; passion unexpressed dissipates.”

Courage is number one principle of heroism and success. Not being courageous enough to take bold decisions is better than not utilizing our courage for maximum success.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I am a great fan of Anthony Robbins, his quotes and analysis is unparallel. But he didn’t explain how to avoid or handle jealousy or what to do when your neighbor becomes envious about your prosperity, when you must have reached your goals. I guess this book ought to have talked about it.

Overall, the book is great, and I recommend it. It has succeeded in making me to reflect about life in general. I have also listened to the audio version; it was a great experience too. Unfortunately, some of the analysis was short, surely he made a good research, but it wasn’t deep. Despite these few shortcomings and reservations, I still call him a master on motivation and entrepreneurship.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes, in the 364th day, he talked about expecting miracles ‘remember to expect miracles…because you are one’. I think he should be a Christian author. Christians like myself, believe so much in miracles and wonders, our lives are full of testimonies.

The last but not the least, he says in the 365th day: ‘be a bearer of the light and a force for good. Share your gifts; share your passion. And May God bless you. I look forward to meeting you personally one day soon’

I was excited to hear these motivational words from Robbins; he is one of the authors I would love to meet in my life. He is a bearer of light, a bearer of good news, a world acclaimed motivational / inspirational speaker, always sharing his creative literary excellence and passions for humanity. God will keep on blessing and protecting him too. Thumbs up!

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 8



How to Win Friends and Influence People

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The central point in this book is that if you really want to have friends, and be successful, you must as a matter of fact be nice to them. This is a perfect book for those that want to get followers or get along with others. It is both endowed with a lot of practical examples and references. Quite an incredible work.

According to the author, Dale Carnegie, it is the only book you need to lead you to success. I have heard much about it for many years, but had always relegated the idea of reading it, I was thinking it is a book for social never-do wells, but was particularly in love with it after going through it.

“How to Win Friends and Influence people”’ is a book for people, about people and for the people. It is a book that has totally changed my concepts and earlier principles on making and keeping friends.

Being a guide to life, it is highly recommended to teachers, motivational speakers, writers, emotional teenagers, psychologists, employers/employees, husbands, wives, friends, business associates, colleagues, sisters, brothers, parents, lawyers, politicians and so on. Being a self-improvement book, it shows us how to work with people and be nice to them. I was able to improve my ability to communicate with people shortly after coming in contact with this book. I am putting all I have learned into action.

I think Dale Carnegie understands the human nature very well. There is a psychological urge in every man to feel important, to be recognized, to be appreciated and adored. No reasonable person will like to be unappreciated.

In this book, the author didn’t mince words in detailing three great techniques for handling people, six ways of making people to like you, twelve ways to win the hearts of people to your own way of thinking, and lastly nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.

All the principles discussed were presented in a memorable and clear terms. It shows the reader, the importance and best ways of remembering names, events, asking questions, other than giving orders, speaking with people about their desires, interests, or allowing them to reach to your conclusions on their own.

The writings were garnished with powerful anecdotes and stories. If you are interested in people, you need to let them know about it. This will make them happy. They will be loyal followers.

Part four of this book; Be a leader: how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment’ was insightful. This is very essential for every leader. He explained nine concepts, but for the sake of this question, I will answer with only seven. They are:

i. If you must find fault, this is the way to begin

A good leader should use praise and honest appreciation. Don’t begin with criticisms; it will scare people from you.

ii. How to criticize and not be hated for it

An inspiring leader begins his criticism with a sincere praise followed by the word ‘but’ and then ending with a critical statement. For instance, you can say to someone, you are looking great this morning, but if you had applied pomade you would have look exceedingly great and irresistible. Tell people their mistakes indirectly. Don’t insult them while making your observations.

iii. Talk about your own mistakes first

Nobody is infallible, admit your own faults first before convincing someone to improve their own. As a leader, you will motivate and even give yourself a soft landing, when you criticize yourself first, before pinpointing another’s mistakes.

iv. No one likes to take orders

An amazing leader will always give people the opportunity to do things their own ways, so that they will learn from their mistakes. So many people don’t like taking orders from their superiors. If you are the type of person that derives pleasure in dishing out orders, people will be motivated to flee from you. Instead of giving orders, you can apply the principle of asking questions.

v. Let the other person save face

Don’t destroy someone’s ego, people don’t like it. It is a big crime to hurt a person’s dignity. Don’t make comments that diminish people’s rights and privileges. They may fight back. Even when we are right, and the other party is wrong, it is safer to allow the other to save face. This is a big order, but it pays handsomely.

vi. How to spur people on to success

There are latent possibilities in us, and as a leader you need to acknowledge while addressing your followers. Praise anything worthwhile in people’s lives, be lavish in praise, and spend little or no time criticizing. When you praise people, they work harder.

vii. Making people glad to do what you want; be very sincere, don’t make promises you can’t fulfill.

Know exactly what you want your follower to do, and be empathetic enough to know what the other person wants, consider the benefits your friend will gain by following you, and match those benefits to the others’ wants. While making request, do it in a way that will convey to the Person that they will personally benefit- all these will make the person eager to do the things you suggest.

The truth is that all these ideas are absolutely timeless. With this book, I can now exhibit high level of professionalism, leadership skills, creativity, wisdom and humanitarianism while addressing people. I have learnt how to praise before stating my reservations- the criticisms must be indirect so that the other party will not feel hurt.

It is noble to ask questions other than giving orders; people need to preserve their dignity. People want to be recognized, you need to praise even the slightest good thing in them. Treat them as if they have the virtues you had wished they posses. Give them a standard to live by, and they will do their best to live up to it.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

What we think about ourselves is really important more than what others think about us and it is only what we think about ourselves that makes us happy.

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

Failures are stepping stones to success- you have multiple opportunities to improve if you try.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Be interested in people, don’t demystify yourself. People are likely going to follow you when they see that you are real.

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”

I believe Dale Carnegie must have come in contact with the great philosopher of modern enlightenment, Francis Bacon, who posited that “knowledge is power.” You cannot do without knowledge. But this knowledge can only be useful if I can apply it to something meaningful.

“Even god doesn’t propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I?”

It is very wrong to judge people. if the creator of the universe, the nature that natures, God can reserve judgment till the last day, why should we spend time judging others; friends and associates?.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Dale Carnegie made a statement that goes like this:

“Don’t be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.”

I guess he was not intelligent enough to discover that both the enemy that attack you and friends that flatter you should be avoided. The person that attacks you doesn’t want your happiness; they may even kill you or hand you over to those that will maim you if given the opportunity.

The same thing applies to the friends that flatter you. When you are flattered, or when you are climbing at the unmerited ladder given to you by flatterers; it becomes a difficult task reminding you of your mortality. Crushing or hurting your personal integrity becomes inevitable within the shortest possible time. Beware!

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

It is not really an exercise so to speak, there is a section that says ‘my experiences in applying the principles taught in this book’ and nothing else was said. I believe the author wants the reader to narrate their experiences after reading through the book. I did this, and discover that the experiences were worth having.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



The New Psycho-Cybernetics

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is a great book to feed one’s consciousness. It has worked for me, and I believe it will work for you. The author, Maxwell Maltz is an expert in personal development and leadership. Amazingly, people like Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar have all used his techniques and concepts.

The New Psycho-Cybernetics derives joy in teaching people how to regulate their self-concepts with cybernetics. The mind-body relationship is very essential in attaining our personal goals. Being a great plastic surgeon, Maltz discovered that his patients have expectations which mere surgery was insufficient to fulfill, so he developed a way of assisting them through a visualization framework.

He understood that both the power or mental visualization and self-affirmation used the mind-body connection. One’s outer success will never go beyond the one that is visualized internally. There is a classical difference between cybernetics and the new psycho-cybernetics.

Etymologically speaking, ‘cybernetics’ is a Greek term meaning ‘steersman’ and it is all about the art of communicating and systems of controls in machines and animals how they achieve or organize their tasks. Maltz then applied the science to man, and this gave rise to what is called “Pyscho-Cyberentics” today.

More so, being inspired by the principles of sophisticated technology, his book denounced the idea that humanity can be reduced to a mere machine. The human brain is more than the most sophisticated computer ever produced.

This book is particularly treasured because it was written at a time when time and motion studies plus behaviorism were at the apex. There are a lot of things that can never be reduced to machines, such as will, ambition and fires of imagination. Psycho-cybernetics is a communication system for effectively communicating with ourselves.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Two psychological levelers you can use to remove any mountain in your way.

These two powerful levelers for changing beliefs and concepts are, first the feeling or belief that you are capable of doing your share, holding up your end of the log, exerting a certain amount of dependence, and secondly, the belief that there is ‘something’ inside you that should not be allow to suffer indignities.

ii. Decide what you want, not what you don’t want.

The job of a rational animal is to decide what he/she wants, select the goals achievable, and concentrate on them rather than pursuing endlessly what we don’t want.

iii. Keep your goal in mind.

The keyword here is remaining goal-oriented, crisis periods acts as the stimulus or additional power that will aid you in actualizing your goals.

iv. Don’t mistake excitement for fear

Some people have erroneously mistaken the feeling of excitement as anxiety, fear or proof of inadequacy. However, excitement is a sign of additional of additional strength which can be used to your advantage.

v. Your nervous system can’t tell real failure from imagined failure.

If we dwell and configure our minds towards failure, we will experience feelings that goes with failures, but if we remain positive-minded, we will experience winning feelings; courage, self-confidence, and faith. The outcome will really be desirable.

vi. React aggressively to your own negative advice.

We have to be more determined to succeed even when we are weighed down by uncertainties of life, and negative thoughts or ‘I can’t spirit’ that comes from us.

vii. Create a need for more life

Creativity and pursuit for excellence should be our watchwords. Creative people look forward to their goals more than non-creative ones. Creativity is a life style; philosophers, painters, writers, and inventors live more than we can imagine- their thoughts and works last for ages.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The lessons or ideas in this book have helped me in a great way. I am excited to have come across this great masterpiece. I am passionate about living life for others, making people happy, giving my talents and treasure for others. These seven ideas are sources of motivation and encouragement.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. For imagination sets the goal ‘picture’ which our automatic mechanism works on. We act, or fail to act, not because of ‘will,’ as is so commonly believed, but because of imagination.”

It is great to point out that it is imagery that gets us to our goals, not visualization or wishful thinking.

“It is no exaggeration to say that every human being is hypnotized to some extent either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others or ideas he has repeated to himself or convinced himself are true. These negative ideas have exactly the same effect upon our behavior as the negative ideas implanted into the mind of a hypnotized subject by a professional hypnotist.”

Bad or negative ideas will never help us to achieve maximum success. We should abstain from accepting negative thoughts people say about us even when it comes from a professional counselor or hypnotist.

“You will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be.”

We will act the exact way we conceive ourselves to be, like the people we want to be, no more, no less.

“Our self image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.”

Our self-image is essential in determining who we become. Counseling and experimental psychologists have advised their patients to develop positive mental attitude, and shun negative mental attitude.

“Remember you will not always win. Some days, the most resourceful individual will taste defeat. But there is, in this case, always tomorrow – after you have done your best to achieve success today.”

Winners sometimes experiences failures, but the most important thing is not the failure, but the ability to learn from their defeats. If you learn from a defeat, there are chances of picking up again. It all demands courage and resilience.

“If you visualize yourself as being successful in anything you touch, you will extremely be successful.”

The insights brought by Maltz are highly practical and simple. This is book one should start applying immediately, as you are reading it. It is not easy to see books that explains complex psychological ideas with ease, it is geared towards improving the quality of our lives. Leaders should recommend this book to those that are searching for meaning and self-knowledge.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Firstly, I do agree that the book will help anyone to improve their lives. But I was not so comfortable with the author when he was telling us the volume of people that have used his psycho-cybernetics to uplift their lives, without specifying how, when and where. In as much as what he was saying might be true, but the praise shouldn’t come from him, I guess he should have allowed people to tell the stories by themselves. He ended up making himself a praise singer.

Secondly, I will recommend this book to people battling with life issues/challenges, but the reader should be patient with the author, he takes time before hitting the point. In some cases, he will take you a long journey of listing and explaining, and re-explaining certain principles before arriving at the conclusion.

Thirdly, it is filled with Biblical references, since the author was not discussing a religious issue, most people that doesn’t share Christian views must be unease with his analysis. When we write, we need to write in such a way that we will accommodate those that don’t share with our schools of thoughts unless we stated in the introduction that the book is meant for specific people. However, the book is excellent insight into the ambience of human psyche, but I am only saying my reservations because I am doing an intellectual exercise.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, mental training exercises/ prescription almost at the end of every chapter. I went through them, and they were exceedingly helpful. The book to a great extent has enhanced my self-esteem, self-image, and my life. It is one of the books that I will keep reading for the remaining part of my life. It is a great book that exposes the psychology of human reasoning and identity. It is a must read for those that wishes to understand themselves and others. The healing we need to succeed is within us- this is what Maltz proves in this book. Our destiny cannot be cut short if we are focused.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Our minds are made up of secret invisible talisman. One end is emblazoned the letters Positive mental attitude, and the other is negative mental attitude. Usually, positive attitude will attract good and beautiful things, while negative mental attitude will take away all the things that give you happiness; it brings sadness, worries, anxieties and uneasiness. Your health status, happiness, success and wealth or economic power depends largely on how you configure your minds.

When the great author and motivational speaker, Napoleon Hill and W. Clement teamed up to produce an intellectual brainchild, the outcome was ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’- thiswas a book that informed the world that each of us can achieve our life dreams with the right attitude.

The number of people that read this book in the 21st century keeps increasing in geometric progression. It is there for anyone that is searching for meaning or that wants to live a better life. Our attitude demonstrates our destinies, whether good or bad. He used few practical examples and references to drive home his message.

If you present yourself in a good manner to people that come across your path, there are great chances of becoming successful in all your endeavors. Positive mental attitude will help you to make the right decisions, take the necessary steps, and actualize your goals within the shortest possible time.

This is one of the best books on self-help, personal and professional development. It is classic, simple, and easy to read and should occupy a primordial place in everyone’s library. My intellectual satellites and antennas had an optimum vibration level after going through this book. I will keep reading it in my quiet time.

Two essential things make up our lives, namely thoughts and ideas. The 17 principles celebrated in this book have shaped my life, I am focusing on the things I really need, and have turned off on things that are unnecessary. This book is excellent in showing how to direct one’s thoughts, control and ordain one’s destinies.

Amazingly, the authors were able to enumerate these secrets after interviewing more than 500 successful men and women of history, this book is just their own observations, experiences and suggestions for the future generations. New life is assured if we can apply these principles to our lives!

It is good to have dreams, wonderful dreams, but it would be a mirage if we fail to take the drastic steps, which include having good plans. It would be drastic if we just dream, and sit down. Real dreamers stand up to pursue their dreams.

ii. Anything in life worth having is worth working for

Great things can’t just come, you really need to work for it. Success will never come to a man that folds his hands, it comes to those that are always working hard.

iii.The most important living person

It is amazing to discover that I am the most important living person; the decisions I make today will go miles in shaping my future. I am so excited that I have a positive mental attitude about myself. The authors describe me (the reader) as the most important living person.

iv. To achieve anything worthwhile in life, it is necessary to set high goals for yourself and want to achieve them

The importance of setting high goals or standards for ourselves can never be overemphasized. First we need to set them, and secondly we need to work hard to achieve them.

v. Definiteness of purpose with positive mental attitude is the starting point of all worthwhile achievement

When we are clear about what we really wants, we reach our dreams at a faster rate.

vi. Everyone has many talents for surmounting his special problems

What it takes to put an end to our problems; difficulties and challenges lies within us, not outside of us.

vii. If you know your specific destination and take the first step, you’re on your way

First stepsare always necessary, we don’t have a second option to make a first step.

I have read so many books like this, but this one is beautifully unique because it contains solid tips and success principles. It is a life-changer. I can beat my chest and say that I have changed my attitude to positive; I don’t and will never entertain any negative thoughts about myself.

Though it makes references to the Bible, but it doesn’t portray that it is a religious book, but at least you need to believe in God’s words to get something out of it.

The book is highly recommended, one should keep reading until they have truly actualized or reach their potentials. This book is a guide towards getting anything that your heart desires. This perfect self-help book is very inspiring.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I have learned that I am a product of my environment; the things around me should help me to actualize my potentials. Success is achieved and maintained by people that are consistently trying their best. The principles mentioned above are great and would help me in a great way.

There is a great joy in sharing what we have, giving our talents, treasure and time for the service of humanity. When you tell good people around you what you want, you will find someone that will like to give you a helping hand. Truth is always one, unchanging, and eternal irrespective of lack of ignorance, disbelief and understanding.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Attitude determines everything.”

Our attitude in life determines our destiny. We all know the need to have good attitudes, unfortunately, not all of us will like to achieve it. Having a positive mental attitude will guide us, and enable us to make the right connections.

“Thought control is the ultimate discipline.”

This book shows how we can direct our thoughts, control our emotions and ordain our destinies. It is noble to have positive thoughts than negative ones.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?


6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


Chapter twenty is a description of what the authors called “success quotient analyses” based on the 17 success principles, which has helped millions of outstanding world leaders. I completed the exercises, and it was quite helpful. The purpose of the exercise was multiple:

To direct our thoughts in the right channels.
To crystallize our own thinking.
To indicate our present position on the path to success.
To encourage us to decide exactly where we want to be.
To measure our chances of reaching the desired destination.
To indicate our present ambitions and other characteristics.
To motivate you to desirable action with positive mental attitude.
To the best of my ability, I have answered the questions truthfully and thoughtfully.

The next chapter was a brief analysis on how to awaken the giant within. What a great book!

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Everything was detailed in a clear manner. This classic work by two phenomenal authors should be read by all leaders and aspiring leaders. The principles explained here will help the reader to achieve maximum success not only in our businesses, but also in all that concerns us. The importance of using the right mindset is vital; right mindset is the keyword.

Positive thinking will help us to succeed. As a way of saying thank you to the authors, I have bought some of this book, and distributed it to my students, aspiring leaders within my vicinity- this is a way of giving back to the society.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Goal Setting 101
Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This book is an exposition on how to set and actualize a goal; it gives powerful advice on the six important goal setting questions such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘how’. If you are conversant with these principles, you will know exactly what to do before pursuing your goal. Without mincing words, this is a great tool for students, beginners, teachers, motivational speakers, and seasoned goal setters.

The book is very short, only 44 pages, but the contents are incisive, and educative. The ideas I have gotten here will help me in broadening my vision, and broad projects. When you get a solid info, and apply them into your life, you will surely get definite results.

The benefits of goal setting are enormous. This book explained some of the basic ways of setting them; it is a simplified step-by-step guide for setting and achieving a goal. Thumbs up for this amazing author!

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Develop a vision

A vision is a way of conceiving or seeing to the end what you want. I have learnt that it is necessary to do proper planning before embarking on my vision. Certain visions may not be actualized by ourselves alone. We need to get the services of those that share the same vision with us. No man is an island, we need others to succeed. People may be reluctant to help you to achieve your vision unless they believe that it is important. All through my life, I have tried my best to share some of my visions to relevant people, most times, I get good opinions, some other times, and I don’t. But I have learnt one thing, sharing and discussing my vision with like-minded people saves time, remove confusion, and reduce errors.

ii. Creation a mission statement

Our author describes a ‘mission’ as an umbrella under which you place your goals and related actions. It is necessary to create a mission statement. This is simply the ‘reason for being’ or ‘the reason for your action’ or ‘your bond’ or ‘things you intend to live by’. Each year, I create a mission statement for the projects I have mapped out that very year. This enables me to clarify my purposes to myself and to those that might be interested. Finally, Gary Blair defines a mission statement as ‘a declaration of who you are, why you exist, and what you intend to accomplish’. Creating a mission statement is required for people in all walks of life. It is not exclusively reserved for politicians only.

iii. Respect your rights and responsibilities.

It is my right as a human person, with body, soul and mind to set and achieve any goal in life; the right to be successful, happy, manage failure, be prosperous, and also the responsibility to share my knowledge with people, the responsibility to write and teach what I know, and I am happy doing this as a teacher and speaker. I have refused to accept failure. This book had taught me to strive to become all I have thought possible, and to always respect my rights and responsibilities.

iv. Write down your goals

I have learnt never to go on holidays in terms of planning. The keyword is ‘never stop planning’ I need to plan, analyze the plans, and if possible re-plan. This author has told me that my goals will only gain credibility the moment I put them into writing. In this way, the possibility of achieving the goal is increased. When an idea is written clearly on a paper, it would be harder to deceive oneself about it. This is a motivating factor to achievement. Most times people make the mistake of thinking that they can keep all their goals on their heads and would always remember them. A lot of times, this fails them. Writing down the goals enables you to look back, and retrace your steps if you have not done what you had planned earlier.

v. Act like a leader

Gary Blair listed “Act like a leader” as one of the 12 keys of implementing your plan. Others include, practice speed, simplicity, and boldness, only results matter, go the extra mile, always set a deadline, and implement now- perfect later, focus! Focus! Focus! Accent execution- go forward, keep moving, remain flexible, be unreasonable, and watch your language. While others are proven principles that will help you to achieve goals, I wish to concentrate my assessment on the first “Act like a leader.” I am responsible for my leadership successes or failures. The primary duty of a leader is to lead, to show the way, so that others can follow, leading people in the direction of the goal. I am a leader, so I don’t have to act like one, because I am one already. The safest way to achieve a goal is by keep moving, keep pursuing, and keep leading myself to victory. The emphasis, Gary Blair is making here is that some leaders are made, while a whole lot of others make themselves, through believing in their dreams, and acting like leaders.

vi. Find a mentor

He encouraged his readers to surround themselves with great mentors; people you trust their wealth of experience, knowledge and sense of judgment. Interview and get along with people that have gone through the dream you are pursuing. It is not good to close ourselves to opinions and insight from others.

vii. Learn to manage fear

A lot of people, including some 21st century leaders are afraid from time to time. In some people, their fears heightened when they have achieved a goal, or accomplish a task. It is unnecessary subsuming ourselves with the fear of failure. But the author is encouraging us to carry on in spite of the fear, and to imbibe the spirit of discipline, self-respect, the love of victory, and self-confidence even when we are afraid.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas mentioned in this book are great. I am reaping from them, and I have started seeing the changes. At least I have learnt the techniques of setting and achieving goals even in the face of hurricane forces and oppositions.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

So many quotes were quite remarkable, but let me share two:

“To be or not to be is directly related to your ability to set or not to set a goal.”

To be great or get to the height I want to reach, I must set a meaningful goal for myself.

“Achieving your goals requires careful periodic monitoring of the actions taken and the measurable results of those actions.”

This entails inspecting your goals at all times, so as to ensure that you get to where you are going on time and on budget.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I have a lot of reservations on this book, some were negligible, but one was a fatal flaw. This is why am refuting the argument. In page 37, where the author was writing on ‘learn to manage fear’ he mentioned “pride” as one of the attributes that will make you courageous even when you are afraid.

This is one of the worst things I have ever heard. Pride goes before a fall. As a leader, you need to embrace the spirit of humility, honesty, and sincerity of purpose. By so doing, you will have a peaceful reign. But if you are proud, a lot of opposing forces may arise against your kingdom, and before you know it, either you will be dethroned, impeached, relieved of duty, or even killed by mobs. There are a thousand and one examples of leaders especially in the third world countries that had been killed over the years both locally and internationally.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, this book tells you about goal setting, and how it really works. There were wonderful exercises at the end of each chapter, and am pretty sure that anyone who devotes time to do them will succeed in anything he/ she ventures.

I find the exercises as powerful strategies for my success. They were invaluable, helpful in enhancing myself, my students, my friends, family. I have used the contents to direct how things work in my school, and in other youth-related programs I have participated.

The book is divided into four parts: the first exercise directs us on how to identify the goals, the second, talks about what Gray Blair calls ‘internal SWOT analysis- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.” The third is about traits and characteristics and the fourth one, which is top ten goals. Actually after applying all these principles in my life, I became a changed person.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 toTen is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9




Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Goals give practical techniques for setting and achieving personal and financial objectives. As a dynamic speaker, the author has spoken to more than 2 million world-class business leaders for over 20 years. This research took him a good number of years.

This book is a product of that exhaustive research. Brian Tracy had been privileged to have consulted with over 500 multinational corporations, such as IBM, Xerox, and Ford, and so on explain 7 key elements of goal setting plus 12 steps that will help you to achieve them.

The book encourages readers to maximize their strengths, and values for optimal results. This is the right book to read if you wish to transform your dreams into reality. It took more than two weeks to go through this piece of writing, not because it was tough, boring or uninteresting, but because I needed to read it when my mind is at rest, so that it can assimilate its message.

I dropped everything I was doing, and concentrated on it. The book is worth reading any day, any time. If you apply the principles here, you will surely make dramatic positive changes in your life. The book contains everything the author has learnt in the areas of success, goal attainment, and achievement.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Get started: unlock your potential.

He believed that it is not where you start, it is how you finish. The greatest discovery in human existence is the ability of one’s mind to create virtually every aspect of our lives. Mainly all the philosophies, psychologies, religions, and metaphysics have believed that ‘you become what think about most of the time’.

Man down the ages, from the ancient to medieval, through modern and contemporary times had been the center and point of departure for every philosophizing. The question concerning man has been asked by various scholars at different times. Immanuel Kant, in his four outstanding questions in philosophy echoed ‘what is man?’ this gave birth to a branch of philosophy called anthropology- which is a scientific study of man.

Many of these thinkers have described man using the following appellations: “Anguished Man” (Soren Kierkegaard), “Existent Man” (Martin Heidegger), “Utopic Man” (Bloch), “A Thinking Reality”( Descartes), “Paragon of Animals” ( Shakespeare) etc. with the advent of the experimental sciences, man has become the primary and more exclusive object of a great many disciplines; psychology, anthropology, philosophy, biology, cybernetics and so on.

Thus, the human reality poses problems which reason itself does not succeed in resolving, because of man’s enigmatic origin, destiny and profound being. Self-discovery becomes the only gateway to self- actualization. Every effort or scientific attempt to unravel this profound complexity called ‘man’ renders itself too limited.

Hence, he is a bundle of possibilities, and unless he recognizes what is individually possible for him, he cannot actualize his potentialities. Science has told us that no man has ever unlocked all his potentialities, and there are more than a trillion talents inherent in man struggling in a consistent consistency for meaningful actualization.

ii. Why do people don’t set goals

Tracy indentified four reasons why some people don’t set goals, namely they think goals aren’t important, they don’t know how, they have a fear of failure, and they have a fear of rejection. Setting goals is necessary; let nothing hinder us from setting and achieving our goals in life.

iii. Our worst enemies

Negative emotions are regarded as the greatest enemy of success and happiness. It holds us down, tire us down, and take away all our happiness, so we should try our best to fight them.

iv. Clarify your beliefs

It is important to know who we are, where we are going, what we believe in, and what they stand for. So many people are confused about their life aspirations, values, and goals. Life is lived both from inside and outside. When we are clear about our beliefs, we become more precise and effective.

v. Create your own future

He admonished us to be thinking about the future continually, never to compromise our dreams and break every limitation that is inhibiting us from reaching our destinations of excellence.

vi. Determine your true goals

This entails realizing what we truly want, and working towards it. All our actions are purposeful, and we are capable of achieving them, once we have set them in the first place.

vii. Manage your time well

A Latin adage says “tempus fugit” meaning “time flies,” once time has slipped from you, you can never regain it again. Psychologists believe that a sense of control is the key to feelings and happiness, power, confidence, and personal well-being. This is possible only when we practice excellent time management skills.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The book is helpful in so many ways. He explained the pitfalls of goal-setting, and what we can do about it. His program and how we can set goals were explained in an excellent manner, with easy- to- follow principles. Having gotten this book, I am gradually applying them to my life. I have realized that when I set goals, I achieve more than he who did not set any goal.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Write down your goals, make plans to achieve them, and work on your plans every single day.”

This idea is very practical and simple, if I follow it, I will achieve much within the shortest time. This single idea could be more valuable than one year of academic study within the four walls of an institute. The author noted that this single idea has transformed his life, and the lives of millions of others all over the world.

“The biggest waste of time is to spend years accomplishing something that you could have achieved in only few months.”

All through the principles, goal achieving, and goal setting techniques offered in this book will help me to achieve my ultimate goals faster than I can ever thought possible. I can transform my present experience to something better.

“A person of average intelligence with clear goals will run circles around a genius who is not sure of what he or she really wants’- this is self-explanatory, and I think Tracy is right to some extent.”

Borrowing a phrase from Earl Nightingale, Tracy says, “happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal or goal.”

One becomes truly happy when he or she is making huge progress. Our greatest purpose in life is to reach our goals.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Though this is a great book, the questions presented in this work challenges me to think rationally and creatively. Chapters one and two were excellent. There were more repetitions in the preceding chapters, and certain ideas that weren’t explained in detail. I think that part should undergo some editorial work.

Sometimes in between the lines, I will be lost in thought, because certain personal experiences and examples of the author that was not explained in details. He paraphrased some of the experiences of the people he encountered in seminars and lectures.

Definitely, this is the book for you if you are new to self-development books, or if you are making a research on it, or if you are still thinking of how to set your goals, the advices of Brian Tracy will be of great help to you.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

At the end of each chapter, the writer will summarize what he has taught in simple sentences. This will help the reader to understand what he is trying to convey in the entire work.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No; I think I have noted all I observed in this assessment.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D.Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The author is saying that there is a very powerful force working in our lives. This is what he calls ‘the law of attraction’. Currently, this law is attracting people, jobs, opportunities, relationships, and situations in our lives.

In this book, Michael J. Losier teaches how we can use the powerful law of attraction positively, so as to change our lives. It is full of tips, scripts, exercises, tools, and highly simplified, written in a coherent way. A great reference material active player in any field of life.

He explained how readers can apply his timeless principles in all areas of their lives such as career, romance, family and personal relationships. If the reader goes through this book meditatively, surely such person will change the way he/ she perceives the universe. It is inspiring, healing, and educative.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. A brief history of the law of attraction

He attempted to give a brief history of the law of attraction, though he didn’t make enough research. He cited only few instances, tracing it from the 1900s to 1990s. Though the analysis was not exhaustive, but it tells us that the law of attraction is a growing phenomena. He maintains that this law is at work in people who finding themselves in bad relationships over and over again, and who are always complaining that they keep attracting the same kind of people. This book examines why and how it really happens.

ii. Positive and negative vibrations

Losier defines the law of attraction as ‘ I attract to my life whatever I give my attention, energy and focus to, whether positive or negative’ there are two examples of vibration, namely the positive and negative. Each of them describes a feeling that tends either to the positive or negative. We are always in the habit of sending a vibration. There is a mood or feeling in every single moment. Some of the positive feelings (vibrations) are joy, love, excitement, abundance, pride, comfort, confidence, affection. While negative feelings are disappointments, loneliness, lack, sadness, confusion, stress, anger, and hurt. The duty of the law of attraction is to match our vibrations whether positive or negative.

iii. Deliberate attraction

It is important to identify the vibration we are sending, and to make a choice whether to change or send it. This section is all about how to send a different vibration, how to be a deliberate sender of your vibration. This is the only thing that will help you to change the results you have been getting, so as to attract more of what you want, and less of what you don’t.

iv. Understanding the significance of your words.

We should be mindful of the words we use, because the words we think and use generate the vibration we are sending out. The words ‘examinations’ can hold a positive vibration for some people and a negative for others. The author believes that when we make statements containing the words ‘don’t, not, or no’ we are actually attracting attention to what we don’t want. Positive and negative thoughts cannot occupy our minds at the same time, one must dominate the other. Thus, making the positive emotions more domineering will do us good.

v. Become more abundant and attract more money.

Abundance is a good feeling, and this is excellent news. Feelings can be generated by our words and thoughts, and we can duplicate the feelings of abundance by changing the way we use our words and thoughts. Applying for part-time jobs, and even working for more hours than required are not only the means to make money. What generates more money is including the feeling of abundance in your present vibration, knowing all the sources of abundance, putting vibration of abundance as fast as you can in your vibration bubble, celebrating and becoming happy the moment you have attracted an abundant thing.

vi. Learn how to teach the law of attraction to children.

Our author spent time telling us how to teach the law of attraction to our children. He advised us to use simpler words when we are teaching children. As a teacher, I like to apply this principle while teaching my students. Yes, because the number one work of a teacher is to communicate to people at their own levels. If one can’t do that, then the whole aim of teaching is defeated. Simplify your words, and allow them to ask and answer questions based on their own experiences.

vii. Staying connected to the message of the law of attraction.

This advices me to always surround myself with people that use law of attraction all the time. I have been experiencing what the author is saying, I really thank him for finding it worthy to share his knowledge with me, and my life is richer and fuller because of this. The law of attraction is the book that is taking me to my destination. I can see that the principles mentioned by the author are working for so many people.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

With this book, I have learned how to deliberately integrate the law of attraction into my life for maximum success. By doing this, I will surely attract everything I need to know, do, and get more of what I want, and less of what I don’t. It’s three formula; indentify your desire, give your desire attention, and allowing explains how I can attract my ideal partner, soul mate, or ideal relationships.

I am a consultant, a writer, and speaker on relationship and dating issues. To the best of my knowledge, the principles mentioned in this piece will really work for millions of people. Though, they are limited to some extent.

Furthermore, the ideas explained here will enable me increase wealth, and abundance, improve my chains of businesses, attract wonderful clients, great referrals, and discover more vibrant opportunities.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The speed at which law of attraction manifests your desire is in direct proportion to how much you allow”

The law of attraction is ever ready to manifest my desires. This book is a delightful piece.

“Allowing is the absence of negative vibration. Doubt is a negative vibration and doubt is often created from limiting beliefs.”

When we doubt, we limit our possibilities. To have a doubt is to have a weak mind.

“Remember, the law of attraction does not care whether you are remembering, pretending, celebrating, playing, creating, complaining or worrying. It simply responds to what’s in your vibrational bubble. So, find proof, rejoice and send out a positive vibration.”

Michael J. Losier is an honest and entertaining writer. I have read countless number of books by today’s eminent literary gurus. Of all the books, resource materials, and tapes I have read over time, the law of attraction is highly valuable. His analysis on how we can send out and dominate our thoughts with positive vibration is excellent.

“Your job is not to try to figure things out intellectually but to let the law of attraction figure it out.”

The law of attraction is ever ready to do the deal. Our intellects can help, but it could be limited. This law will do it with ease than our intellect; that is the emphasis.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The author got it wrong by listing “pride” as one of the positive vibrations. My submission is that no reasonable person should be happy when he/she is proud. God and even followers detest proud leaders. As aspiring global leaders, it is necessary to shun this vice, and replace it with the enviable virtue of humility.

Secondly, the sub-title ‘the science of attracting more of what you want and less of what you don’t’ is totally misleading. I have gone through the book chapter by chapter, yet I couldn’t see a comprehensive scientific analysis on his theories.

I was reading the book with keen interest to know whether the cosmos is governed or have any alliance with our goals, wants, and fears. To my utmost chagrin, there was no citation to that effect. This makes the word ‘science’ to be misleading. However, from our elementary knowledge of science, whenever we talk of science, we are merely referring to ‘facts, studies, research, figures, theories of truth, and experiments’.

I am not saying that certain scientific statements weren’t mentioned; he did mentioned it in passing in page 9 of the book I read. But the analysis wasn’t exhaustive for a novice. The discussion of scientific terms like energy, atoms (protons, electrons, and neutrons) weren’t up to 10%. Perhaps, instead of saying “the science of” he could have replaced it with “how to, the art of, guides on.”

If there are no universal laws manipulating or even becoming responsible for our wishes and desires why then do we call this a science? You will know what am saying if you have read other Neuro linguistic programming or law of attraction books some of them explain these scientific principle which this author miss in detail. However the offence of this Michael J. Losier is highly pardonable.

Thirdly, the book is short, though written in plain and readable English, yet it has a lot of white spaces, and he appears to be repeating or over –stressing certain points.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

They weren’t exercises per say, instead every section contains a summary of what the author had discussed previously. I have gone through them, and was satisfied with his submissions. This is a great book, and the author has a lot to offer to this generation. His principles were explained in plain English, no weird jargons.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No, the questions covered almost all the contents of the book.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D.Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Leadership for Dummies

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Leadership for Dummies co-authored by Marshall Loeb, and Stephen Kindel is a guide for those climbing the ladder of leadership. The book is simple, written in readable English. They believe that leaders are made not born, thereby refuting the arguments of those that keep believing otherwise.

While introducing the book to the reading public, the authors say that leadership for Dummies is a book for not only would-be chief executive officers or five-star generals, but with anyone with the desire to take the lead. We all should learn how to lead.

The book goes ahead to say that developing your leadership skills will add value to your life. As a philosopher, a researcher on leadership, and self-development, I find this book very helpful. Everything you need to succeed as a leader is explained there such as embracing responsibility, eliciting cooperation, visions, planning, listening etc. I have taken time to implement them into my life and lectures.

The principles here are what you can apply into your situation shortly after reading. If you apply the principles, you will see that your life will change within 24 hours. I am overwhelmed by the basics of leadership traits and principles by these authors. It is better than most of the books I have read on leadership.

On several occasions, I have been to organizations and companies where some of the people at the helm of affairs lacked leadership skills, sensitivity and judgments, thereby lacking in managing projects- these caused uproar among the employees and members that many of them simply quit their membership or resign.

After going through this work, I have known why such happened, and what leaders should do to keep those under them; make them happy and pro-active. If a leader does the right thing, set the right standard, the team can be working harmoniously even when he travelled outside

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

This book is packed with a lot of useful tips, and leadership anecdotes that will help you to keep advancing. Let me list and explain only seven:

i. What it takes to be a leader

I have been reading books on leadership for the past ten years. Some thinkers have come up with the qualities of leadership, what it takes to be a leader, challenges facing modern leadership and so on. I have my own feelings about it; true leadership must be geared enhancing, and touching the lives of people. It is an avenue or opportunity to serve humanity. Becoming a leader is not as difficult as some people think. Though, a lot of books have been written about it, but only very few have taken time to define the skills you need to acquire as a leader. The purpose of a leader is to achieve this basic objective; elicit the cooperation of others, listen and put others before you. This is what the book talks about. Furthermore, here the authors talked about how leadership affects virtually every part of our lives. I think what the authors says here will enable me to be a good leader.

ii. Leadership is a process

Leadership is something one must be prepared. I have seen so many people who seem to have entered into leadership positions in my home country unprepared flopped. As a keynote speaker, and freelance journalist, I have had the rare opportunity of advising some of them on the norms of leadership. Leadership is all about having the necessary skills, knowing what you are required to do, and do them, knowing the people you want to lead; knowing their aspirations, needs, visions, missions, wants, and status. Knowing all these will help you in becoming an effective leader, and you will be greatly missed decades after you have left that position.

iii. The art of leadership

This is the core of leadership. As a leader, I am expected to know much about the people am leading, and they should also know me too well; know my history and antecedents. Mastering the art of leadership will help me to harness my strengths and weaknesses for effective service delivery. In this book, the authors spent time dialoguing between leading and managing, both concepts don’t mean the same thing, though some leaders try to misunderstand them. I have learnt that I don’t need to have a title before I climb a leadership position. I just need to have the passion to take people to the Promised Land.

iv. Leadership in everyday life

Leadership goes with accepting responsibility. I am a leader, even when am speaking to people in conferences, or writing news, articles or ghostwriting eBooks, teaching in the classroom, I am leading. Because, I am working on people’s psyche, emotions, etc. In this section, I have learnt the necessary tools that will motivate me to lead in my work place, local community, religious, or secular community and even in my family. Leadership is a process that takes place every day of my life, and I need to do it well.

v. Leadership and vision

I got to this point, and was marveled at their deep analysis. This part devoted much time talking about what vision is, why it is necessary, how I can develop it, and even implement it both in my businesses and social life. I have started to apply these principles in my business and personal life, and the results are quite amazing.

vi. Team building

This part is all about team building; cooperation, how to create a winning team, the joy in having good teams, and what happens when your team is ineffective. Every team I have worked with was hardworking, because of our self-discipline, and motivation. I have discovered why so many people achieve more remarkable feats in life more than others; it is because some of these people work with high quality teams. I will keep reading this book at intervals.

vii. Ten mistakes that every leader makes

There is no perfect or ideal leader in the world, every leader makes mistakes probably because of our human imperfections. The Biblical Moses whose leadership skills were admired and considered among the best still made lots of mistakes which prompted God to deny him the promised homeland. The authors advised us to be careful not to make the following fatal or common ten mistakes; to be alert and avoid them whenever the opportunity to make such mistakes arise.They identified the ten mistakes that every leader makes as:

Failing to learn from your mistakes: I always learn from my mistakes, this helps me to produce more.

Failing to be flexible: As a leader, am expected to be flexible, not rigid especially when making decisions.

Failing to acknowledge your past: It is good to know the past; it shapes our future. I have always learnt how to learn from my past mistakes.

Commanding instead of leading: It is better to lead than to command people. When I lead, people will be eager to follow me, but when I command, they will oppose my policies.

Failing to listen: I have advised people to develop the virtue of listening to people’s problems. As a leader, I will go far in motivating people, if and only if I become a good listener.

Thinking of your own needs first: One of the things I have tried to delete from my life is the art of thinking of myself alone. I think of others, and there is great joy in doing so.

Thinking leadership is forever: Some leadership positions have tenure of office. If I occupy any position, I always remind myself that I will not be here forever. I will leave one day, so I try as much as possible to make the best of everything.

Failing to teach: My greatest work as a leader is to teach people on how to lead, and how to be good followers.

Failing to have a sense of humor: It is highly recommended to develop a sense of humor, as a leader. The advantage of this is multiple, and am trying my best to do so.

Seeing things only in black and white: Seeing things in terms of moral absolutes.

The keys gotten in this book will surely enable me to keep moving despite the opposing forces and challenges that becloud my day. Thumbs up for these wonderful and consummate writers of our time.

Overall, it was a great book, and highly recommended for all and sundry. This book is for those that really want to lead, and also to those that wish to be good followers.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I used a bit of these ideas in some of the leadership courses, and trainings I have conducted for people, and I discovered one thing, my listeners were eager to listen with rapt attention. At the end of the day, they were edified.

The ideas discussed in this book have helped me to believe that leaders are made, not born and to see opportunity in the midst of crises, challenges, obstacles, lead with encouragement, and proper communication, assembling and maintaining a hardworking team, recognizing and embracing the basic tenets of true leadership. This is a book that will keep you updated.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

Here are two greatest quotes from Leadership for Dummies by Marshall Loeb and Stephen Kindel:

“Recognizing your leadership potential is the first step toward leading others.”

Before you lead, you need to recognize the potentialities in you. I have a lot of potentialities, being able to listen to my followers, developing a sense of humor, communicating with them, developing a hardworking team, and so on.

“The aggressive attitude reacts to circumstances with blame. We blame ourselves or someone else, or God.”

I am encouraged to learn how to abstain from aggressive attitudes, so as to strengthen my organizations, communication techniques, and deal with difficult people effectively.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

No, every points were explained with great clarity.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No, there were no exercises in the one I read.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes. The book didn’t ask us if the authors had been in leadership positions, if yes, how they climb to such positions, challenges faced, and how they emerge victorious, if not, why.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D.Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

In this internationally acclaimed literary masterpiece, Marshall Rosenberg offers practical exercises, insightful stories, and powerful anecdotes that will change our perception and approach to life. Our mode of communication will be enhanced after reading this. This is a book that teaches the importance of words, language theory, and how they can build our relationships, prevent conflicts, build trust, and heal pain.

Nonviolent communication is revolutionary, simple, and offers enticing tools that will create peace and minimize violence in our lives; helping us to reach our destinations quickly and to get what we want in a peaceful way.

A wonderful book on how we can talk to people without pissing them off, alienating them or judging them, and win their friendships. I was glad after going through Rosenberg’s book. Hopefully, I would be making out time from my busy schedules to be reading it over and over again, because his ideas were presented in a plain way.

In the foreword, I was delighted to see Arun Gandhi saying that “nonviolence means allowing the positive within you to emerge. Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion and concern for others rather than the self-centered, and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking…nonviolence Communication is a significant first step toward changing our communication and creating a compassionate world.”

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Giving from the heart.

I am motivated to give without counting the cost, to enjoy giving, and receiving in a compassionate manner. This book is founded on language and communication skills that strengthen to remain human against all odds, even under difficult situations. The contents serve as a guide, telling us what we can do so as to relate well with others. The heart of a true nonviolent person is giving from the heart, expressing ourselves with honesty, and clarity while giving others an empathic and respectful attention at the same time.

ii. Communication that blocks compassion

The author started this page by giving us a Biblical quotation which admonished us not to judge (Mathew 7:1). Truly, there are some mood of communications that alienates us from our natural and usual state of compassion. We pay dearly when people respond to our values and needs not out of a desire to give from the heart, but out of fear, anger or shame. In a logical way, he cited so many instances, and analyzes value judgments, and moralistic judgments. When we classify and judge people, we promote violence. Thinking based on who deserves “what,” and communicating our desires in the form of demands are among the things that blocks compassionate communication. We are trained to look outside our selfish motives, desires, to outside authorities for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, and bad.

iii. Indentifying and expressing feelings.

To observe without evaluating is the first component of nonviolent communication, while to express how we feel is the second. A lot of people don’t consider feelings to be important. I am currently learning how to strengthen my feelings to others both in my relationships with them, and the professional world. Feelings are different from thoughts; there is a huge difference between what we think we are, and what we feel, or how we think people react or behave to us. He encouraged us to develop vocabulary for feelings, which will allow us to connect more easily with others.

iv. Receiving empathically

Empathy according to a Chinese Philosopher, Chuang-Tzu, true empathy requires listening with our whole being. Thus, empathy is emptying our minds, going outside of ourselves and shading off all preconceived judgments, and ideas about others. Almost in the same affirmation, the ideas of the Australian born Israeli philosopher, Martin Buber and the French Philosopher Simone Weil were cited. In fact, the latter described listening to a sufferer with an undivided attention as a miracle. But before we give reassurance or advice, we need to first of all, ask. Intellectual understanding blocks empathy. We should listen to what people need, instead of what they are thinking- no matter the type or amount of words people use to describe themselves, we only hear what they are requesting, needing, feeling, and observing. Pain can block our ability to give empathy. This is why we need empathy to give empathy. A Latin Maxim says “Nemo dat quod non habet- nobody gives what he doesn’t have.”

v. The power of empathy

Empathy helps us to perceive our world in a new way, and to go on. It is not really an easy thing to empathize with people who seems to have more resources, status, and power. The more we are moved with empathy with other people, the safer and better we feel about them, and ourselves. No matter the condition or situations of people, we should look at their feelings and needs. The only good way of bringing conversation back to life is by interrupting it with empathy.

vi. Connecting compassionately with ourselves.

We should learn how to relate internally with ourselves, self-judgments, and self-forgiveness. We are regarded as being compassionate with ourselves only when we are able to embrace all aspects of ourselves and recognize the values and needs expressed by every part; be conscious of our actions.

vii. Expressing Anger Fully

Rosenberg believes that there are better ways of fully expressing ourselves than killing, hitting, blaming, and hurting people whether emotionally or physically. He encouraged us to swallow the anger peacefully. We shouldn’t be angry with people because of what they say or do. We contribute to violence the moment we start judging others. Violence stems from the fact that other people are the cause of our pain; therefore they should be allowed to face some punishable charges or actions. There are four steps to expressing anger fully, namely stop and breathe, indentify our judgmental thoughts, connect with our needs, and express our feelings and unmet needs.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

All these ideas are enriching my life, to the extent that I can now enrich others. With these analyses, my daily personal life and professional life is affected deeply. I have learnt different ways people prevent themselves from consoling, educating, advising, sympathizing, story-telling, correcting, explaining, shutting down, and interrogating among others.

I have learned how I can express my anger fully, though I need to first of all indentify its cause, which normally is my own thinking, not someone else’s actions. The other party’s action might be the catalyst, but the emotion is mine. This is where the four steps to work through anger come into play.

How I wish I read this book many years ago, there were many silly mistakes I have made, though not fatally that I would have done differently. However, I am happy reading it this time, and I would devote a lot of time reading nonviolence communication- it will help me in my dream of becoming world-class motivational speaker, philosopher, diplomat and seasoned journalist.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

Yes, too numerous to mention, but let me cite only three favorite quotations:

“Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.”

“We use nonviolence communication to evaluate ourselves in ways that engender growth rather than self-hatred.”

“When we are internally violent towards ourselves, it is difficult to be genuinely compassionate towards others.”

We are angry with ourselves simply because our actions do not harmonize with our values.

I soaked myself in tears, and felt a sense of pity after reading the famous sections:

“Expressing Anger Fully, and Connecting Compassionately with ourselves.”

His writings and deep analysis resonated deep thoughts in my mind. His writing was so life-changing. I have learnt how to defuse arguments, transform lingering conflicts into peaceful dialogues, and create compassionate connections with my family, friends, students, audience, and acquaintances.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

This is one of the most powerful books ever written in human history, judging from its contents and deep logical analysis. But my dual reservations are concentrated at the beginning. Firstly, the design wasn’t wonderful; I mean the front cover was misleading. How can someone with a Ph. D design an earth inside a flower? – I looked at it, but couldn’t understand what Rosenberg is trying to portray, and he didn’t make any reference to that all through the book. I think readers needed an explanation for this.

Secondly, still on the front cover, I noticed bad poetry. The title of the book is “Nonviolent Communication” but the author added “A language of life” without adding colon (:) at the end of Nonviolent Communication. This makes the whole thing looks like a faint literary analysis from a Ph. D holder.

Besides these two mistakes which might be the fault of the editor or publisher, the book is worth reading any day, any time. Thumbs up for this amazing author!

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes. There are exercises, and summaries at the end of every chapter. The aim was to make sure that the reader has a perfect understanding of the subject matter. He illustrated his points with great hints from his personal experiences and workshops, and presented them in a thoughtful way.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes. A lot of people recommended this book such as Arun Gandhi, Deepak Chopra, Thomas Gordon, Riane Eisler, many Amazon reviewers and lots more. I will not be able to cite their comments, and feedbacks which are up to six pages due to want of time and space. Their opinions were great; it seems to me that they have read the first edition, and even this second edition before it went to press. Their writings help the reader to have a general overview of what the book is all about.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D.Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9.5

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is a remarkable book about humanity. The author presented a principled and integrated approach to solving professional and personal problems. He garnished it with penetrating anecdotes and insights. He directs us towards the path of living a life of integrity, purpose, human dignity and service.

All through my life, I have never met a writer so fluent in teaching than Stephen R. Covey. His analytical way of improving our minds to communication, relationship, family and values are second to none. He offers a great opportunity to explore ourselves and bring out the best in us. This is an excellent book that could change the reader’s life within few hours.

This is not just a how –to-guide or self-help book, but one packed with sound principles, and wisdom. All the principles discussed here can be profitably applied to all spheres of life, both in private and public services. To me, Seven Habits of Highly Effective people is thought-provoking and have made a big difference in my life.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

This book is worth reading for its practical experience and perspective. I was particularly inspired by the following ideas. The book explained seven ideas that can effectively affect people both on personal, professional and family bases.

The seven habits are:

i. Be proactive

This explains that I am responsible for my actions. But I have to remember the limit of my freedom especially in this information / knowledge worker age. Great proactive people love responsibility; they don’t blame situations, conditions, and circumstances, for their behaviors. But reactive people are greatly affected by their physical environment.

ii. Begin with the end in mind

So many people are bewildered with the fear of the future, the fear of the unknown. However, we should be concerned mainly about the legacy we will leave behind us- so that at our funerals, people will say good things about us. We really need to think deeply about this. He urged us to begin today to build a good image or picture of ourselves.

iii. Put the first things first

This section deals with some of the questions addressed in the field of time management and field of life. He emphasized on the importance of organizing and executing our priorities. Daily planning is good but not the best, it is short-sighted and narrow. Weekly planning is better- this gives us the opportunity of dealing with the things that surely come up as time goes on.

We need to be efficient and mingle with quality people, plan our time effectively, and spend good amount of time with people that shares our dreams. We should avoid wasting time with those that don’t like our dreams; we shouldn’t waste time in saying no to their requests, no matter how enticing it might be.

iv. Think win/win

Some of the things in life requires cooperation, team building, not competition. To achieve maximum results, we should learn how to work with friends, co-workers, and family. Everything should be approached in terms of “win /win or no deal.” If the deal you are making will not benefit both parties, the best thing is to stop making the deal at all. It is good to happy when others succeed in their dreams. We need to think creatively in terms of abundance mentality, not scarcity mentality.

v. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

When we listen, we should do so with the aim of understanding the situation, not necessarily to give a reply. This listening involves listening with empathy; presenting our views in terms of personal credibility, emotional alignment, and logical reasoning. Before making any prescription, we are cautioned to think deeply. It is difficult to inspire people by appealing to satisfied needs such as fame, status, or money; instead only unsatisfied needs will do so in an efficient manner.

vi. Synergize

Every human person is unique, or difference, so we should obviously value the physical differences between people. The author defines ‘synergy’ as ‘…the essence of principle-centered leadership. It is the essence of principle-centered parenting. It catalyzes, unifies, and unleashes the greatest powers within people… the very way that a man and a woman bring a child into the world is synergistic. The essence of synergy is to value differences- to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses’

vii. Sharpen the saw

It will help both my emotional and physical development, if I can improve myself in the following categories daily:

physical; eating the right foods, and doing proper exercises

spiritual; finding time to go into myself, creating an atmosphere of inner peace, read the scripture, meditate on what I read, practice what I have read, and spend quality time admiring nature.

mental; read good literature books, write, plan and organize myself.

social/emotional; understand people, serve them with good intentions, and also volunteer to humanitarian causes.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This book is so great that I pondered every single page. Though, I am aware that I will re-read this book in future. The ideas helped me to understand humanity better, to be compassionate, kind, sympathetic, personal responsibility, and how to be better husband to my wife, better employer to my employees, and better father to my unborn kids. Words are actually cheap. This is truly an outstanding book.

So many quotes by the author got my attention. The first was the famous quote that was attributed to the great ancient philosopher, Aristotle. While I was studying philosophy, Aristotle was one of the philosophers that motivated me; he philosophized in almost every facet of learning, and philosophy such as Ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and logic. He was the tutor of Alexander the great.

In this book, the author quoted him as saying: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

Truly, it takes excellence to recognize the fruits of excellence in others, and this speaks volume about the Stephen Covey. Aristotle’s contention is that we should always turn good acts into habits.

Other notable quotes include: “Be proactive.”

I have already explained what I understood above. People who are proactive are value-driven and smart. They know what they want, and move towards getting them. This to a great extent increases their circle of influence.

“Think about how you want others to talk about you and live that way.”

Definitely we will leave better when we want people to talk about us in the good way. Nobody likes having a negative image, or picture. When we know that people will talk about us in the bad manner, it should motivate us to live lives that points to true greatness.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Covey is a great writer, though he frequently references his Christian inclination. I love that as a consummate Christian, but some people in other religions may not like his frequent reference to Christianity in the book. For instance, it might piss them off. I think he should have used a general language so as to accommodate people from all religions. I am saying this from experience. Overall, he wrote an excellent and commendable piece of work.

Yes, there were application suggestions at the end of each chapter. These serve both as a summary and exhortations for the reader. All the principles exhibited here were geared towards improving the quality of our lives. Your life will never remain the same if you read this book carefully.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D.Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Unlimited Power
Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Anthony Robbins calls this book the science of personal achievement. To me, this is one of the best things that have ever happened to me recently. Unlimited Power will teach you how to dream big, and achieve maximum quality of life you deserve and desire.

He has spent years teaching people thorough tapes, seminars, and books how to use the powers of their mind. He has worked in close collaboration with heads of state, professional athletes, Olympic, movie stars, and children.

This book teaches you to find what you really want, the seven lies of success, the secrets of reprogramming your mind, eliminating phobias, fears, creating instant rapport with anyone you meet, the five keys to happiness and wealth, and duplicating the success to others.

With this book, you will master how to master your mind, and body while at the same gain the financial, self-confidence and emotional freedom. When you tap into the powers of the mind, you will surely overcome challenges and achieve multiple successes.

The deep insights here are geared towards enhancing the quality of our lives in areas of career, health, finances, relationships, and leadership.

The book is quite voluminous, I don’t like reading such materials, but the contents held me spare bound till the last chapter. He did an excellent work, offering step- by-step guide on how we can develop strategies in a seemingly, competitively overwhelming world.

Keep in mind that these principles will never work for you, if you just read it and do nothing about it; it works for those that can work hard, and move away from their present enclave or shackles. The philosophies, technologies, strategies and skills taught in this book were very empowering.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

So many ideas occupied my mind, but the following were very unique. All these ideas put together will help us to achieve personal and professional success:

i. The commodity of kings

Success is a consistent process of moving forward no matter the hurdles. I have learnt the ability to grow in all aspects of life such as intellectually, emotionally, psychologically, financially, and even socially. While helping others as I keep climbing the ladder of success.

The true measure of success doesn’t depend on who we know, where we are heading, or what we have accomplished only. The power to transcend our ideas into reality is within us. Now, is the right time to start making optimal use of them, just like the king is responsible for directing his kingdom. We can direct all that happened around us with our brains.

The gift of brain is the highest gift humanity received from divinity. The book had taught me the secret of remaining resourceful, independent, being proactive, taking responsibility for my actions and how to enhance my life within 24 hours. We are living in an age where thousands of people are achieving great feats daily. Something that was unimaginable many years ago. Look at Steve Jobs, and his outstanding discoveries, looks at Ted Turner, and his cable television exploits, Bruce Springsteen in the entertainment industry, or is it businessmen like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and their astounding, prodigious successes in businesses.

ii. The Seven Lies of Success

“Lies” here means being open to continuous learning and possibilities, not really deceitful or dishonest. They are:

Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves us. No matter what we do or think, there is a reason for all things. This is where the principle of cause and effect is active.
There is no such thing as failure. There are only results- failure is the beginning of success. When I fail in a particular project, I shouldn’t rest on my oars; instead it could be the right opportunity to move to a better level of achievement.
Whatever happens, take responsibility- the price of greatness is responsibility. I become more proactive when am ready to accept responsibility of my actions.
It is not necessary to understand everything to be able to use everything- you don’t need to understand all things before making absolute use of them.
People are your greatest resource. Human resource personnel’s know that human beings remain our highest resource; they need to be harnessed for optimal results.
Work is play; without work, nothing meaningful would be achieved.
There is no abiding success without commitment. Whatever I do in life, I need to involve high level of commitment to it, and without it success will be an uphill task.

iii. Mastering your mind: how to run your brain

There is the need to harness the powers of my mind. When this is done, it will be possible for me to control my resources, change my perception, ideas, and states for great results. I have learnt that success or failure starts from my mind. Therefore, I have configured my mind to be successful, I am working towards that, and I am seeing optimal progress.

iv. Energy: the fuel of excellence

My physical appearance had something to do with excellence. My physiology helps in changing my facial expressions, breathing, and posture, what I eat, drink and so on. It is necessary to raise my energy levels- if it is high, I will perform optimally; I will utilize my talents, using it to produce a meaningful thing.

When you understand how your body works, you will respect it, and take care of it. The following are some of the ways we can run our bodies:

Living health- the power of health. I have learned to eat the right foods, foods rich in proteins, fats and minerals for the optimal growth of my body.

The principle of eating water-rich foods. Sea foods are highly recommended for us. After reading this work, I have started to eat water- rich foods. Many of them don’t contain cholesterols.

The law of controlled consumption. There should be a limit to what I eat; I shouldn’t eat everything that my hand could grab. Whoever does so will die prematurely.

Living health program is the principle of effective fruit consumption. Having known the importance of consuming fruits, I now take more fruits daily. Knowing full well, that they will keep enhancing my performance.

Living health is the protein myth. It is essential to live healthy at all times, and to seek for medical counseling and diagnosis my health status is not moving as expected.

Creating the experience of health you desire. Health is wealth, the best thing I will do to myself to eat the right foods that will make my health to remain on track always.

v. The ultimate success formula

There is no limit to what we can do. If you tell yourself that you can do something, and believes it, there is the possibility of actualizing it. The ultimate success formula is know your outcome, develop the flexibility to change your behavior, the sensory acuity, until you get what truly works for you- this will help you in reaching your destination. We will create success if we are truly committed to it.

vi. The Five Keys to Wealth and Happiness

You must learn how to handle frustration; frustration must be handled effectively. Though in my life, I have not been frustrated for any reason, I see whatever happens to me as a design from above, and I try the best I can to come out of it more refined.
You must learn how to handle rejection; perhaps one of the worst things people suffer in life is fear of rejection. I have seen a lot of people that have been rejected either by their friends, family, employees/ employers, and the experience had been so bad. Learning how to handle rejection is an essential key to success.
You must learn how to handle financial pressure; this is what I am currently learning in my everyday life.
You must learn how to handle complacency; i am satisfied with what I have. I don’t do things to please everybody, because pleasing everybody is impossibility, I try to do the right things, at the right time. I remember what Mae West said: you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Always give more than you expect to receive; I have learnt in life that giving is a great key to prosperity. I am motivated by the author’s opinions; I am energized to write an eBook on giving. It is safer to give than to receive.

vii. Living excellence: the human challenge

The author wants me to stop doing the talking, instead to walk the talk. This will give me the power to produce excellence. By so doing, I am taking charge of my life. He cited instances with two great orators of antiquity such as Cicero and Demosthenes. Whenever Cicero was done speaking, people with greet his speech with thunderous ovation, and heart cheers. When Demosthenes finished speaking, people will say ‘Let us march’ and they did. This is the difference between persuasion and presentation. As leaders, we should learn how to live the life of excellence.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This is a revolutionary book on how we can work on our minds, use our minds for success; gaining financial and emotional freedom, self-confidence, attain leadership, and win the hearts of others. It gives me the knowledge and skills to remake myself and the world. The ability to act, and impact the world positively. Unlimited power is highly motivational and inspiring.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Action is what unites every great success.”

We will never achieve anything meaningful until we have the power to act.

“Power is the ability to act.”

It is necessary to occupy our minds.

“For every disciplined effort, there is a multiple reward..” (attributed to Jim Rohn)

There is hope at the end of our toils.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The book encourages the reader to change his or her way of thinking. I am perfectly okay with the idea, though some of the principles were quite absurd and repetitive.

The area where he talked about nutrition was good, but it was full of confusing and contradictory sentences. He was promoting vegetarianism, but his logic weren’t sound, though okay.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

In the beginning of every chapter, Robbins will summarize the previous chapter briefly before going into another topic. More so, I love his analysis of glossary at the end of the book- all these were done in an excellent manner. Thumbs up! Apart from these, there weren’t any exercises for the reader.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No; almost every aspect of this book was covered by the aforementioned questions.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The central message of the book is an exposition on the true personality of Martin Luther King Jr., America’s greatest civil and human rights activist. The author started by giving an account of his childhood as the son of a preacher, academic background, life as a minister or a preacher of God’s word, his ascendancy as a foremost leader of civil rights, relationships with leading political and social personalities and ideologies of the day.

The author; Clayborne Carson is Stanford University historian. In this account, he took time to give us a clear view of Martin Luther King Jr. and of course described him as a persuasive and impressive leader that has ever lived in human history.

Literally, one can conclude that Martin Luther King Jr. moved from cradle to grave. He met his wife, Coretta at the university. After some time, their children were born, and then the gospel of nonviolent movement began, fought and struggled with a lot of forces, underwent many hurricane forces, and eventually was violently assassinated. In fact, the bitter part of it was that he was killed by the same violence he was preaching against. Life is full of mysteries and ironies.

I have read many biographies of great people, but I rank this, as one of the books that will ever remain evergreen in my heart and mind. As an aspiring leader, the book challenges me to make real and great impact in the world despite the obstacles.

Secondly, it inspires me to make sacrifice and fight for the liberation of not only myself, but for others as well. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the liberation of millions of black people in America. He was very unselfish, faithful to his ideologies, and died in the pursuit of the noble cause. His fights and struggles eventually made the world a better place. His fights made the world a better place.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. “I have a Dream” speech

This speech in 1963 and the Nobel Prize speech in 1964. I enjoyed these speeches. They were exemplary and stood the test of time. They were really very emotional, coming from a man that has passion for his people. These speeches have encouraged me to believe my convictions, and to have faith in my ideas no matter how difficult things may seem.

ii.Martin Luther King Jr. described his dad as a genuine Christian character.

Fortunately, this was the first thing he admired about the man. He was a man of integrity, deeply committed to moral and ethical principles. Even his enemies believe that he is a man with sincerity of purpose. He was not dubious, or attempting to reap where he did not sow. He was contented with his salary; he knew the secret of saving and budgeting. That was why he provided enough for his family at all times. This section of the book was too inspiring. It encouraged me to leave a lasting impression on my children. To inspire them both in words and deeds, so that they can live exemplary lives of honesty, diligence and sincerity of purpose.

His speech at the age of 14 at Georgia, when he went with his dear teacher Mrs Bradley for an oratorical contest was legendary. He spoke on “The Negro and the Constitution.”

In his view: “we cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines-obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flout the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.” Looking at this speech, one can see his passion and zeal for the suffering black race. His vision was clear. He knew what he wanted, and he went for it. No wonder he won that contest.

Also in the autobiography, he was coming from Dublin to Atlanta after winning the contest. Something happened in the night. Along the line, he and his teacher boarded the bus with few white people. He was shocked when the white driver ordered them to get up for the white people. At first, he resisted, but his teacher urged him to obey the law. According to him, “that night will never leave my memory. It was the angriest I have ever been in my life.”

iv. Martin Luther King Jr. was called into the ministry.

He saw the call not just as a supernatural or miraculous something, but an inner urge to serve the erring humanity. He had an intellectual romance with many modern thinkers, philosophers and ministers of his day such as his dad, Dr Mays, President of More House College, and Dr. George Kelsey, a professor of Philosophy and Religion- these people were deeply religious, and learned ministers of God’s word. He saw in their lives an ideal of what he wanted to be in a minister.

As a leader, I have learned to inspire people with my words, and creative thinking. When I live an amazing life, I will inspire thousands of people to aspire. These three people may not have known the type of impact their lives and principles made on the young Martin Luther King Jr.

v. Our nonviolent leader believed that truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism.

Yes, he came to this conclusion after reading the interpretive work of Karl Marx Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto. First, he opposed Marx’s materialistic interpretation of history, which has no place for divinity. Because there is a power in the universe which can never be explained in materialistic term. That power is what we call God. His thinking was shaped after reading philosophy and theology at Boston University. Education is good; it cures certain ills of life. It helps us to ask questions about things we don’t believe in, and helps us to believe things that are clearer to our thinking.

vi. Martin Luther King Jr. says: “I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment.”

She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where Christian love is a reality’. I think the famous saying ‘behind every successful man, there is always a woman’ finds fulfillment here. Without his wife, he may not have reached the height he did. The importance of women in the life of many great leaders should not be overemphasized. I am deeply challenged to love my wife, and appreciate what she is doing for my success; her sacrifices, and best wishes upon my life.

vii. “Love is a transforming power that can lift a whole community to new horizons of fair play, good-will and justice.”

This actually summarizes his beliefs and character. He was a man that believed in love. Love is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone. If you are not loved, or if you don’t love, you are simply finished. I have learnt how to show love, even to my enemies- that is the true essence of life.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

These ideas are priceless; I have tried to apply each of them to my life.

In the first place, “I have a Dream” speech is very inspiring, motivating and encouraging. The wordings were laden with meanings. I have been encouraged to have faith in my ideas, and to dream big.

Secondly, he described his dad as a noble man; a man of integrity, and sincerity of purpose. I have learnt how to be a great dad to my unborn kids, and how to be the conscience of the time.

Thirdly, his speech at the age of 14 is one of the things that provoked my intellect. Let me talk about this section, “we cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flout the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.”

The main teaching of Jesus Christ, the savor of man was brotherly love and the Golden rule- do unto others what you would like them to do to you. Just like Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr. goes about preaching love of one another, gospel of nonviolence. I have learnt how to preach the gospel of love, and golden rule.

Fourthly, his philosophical and theological background paved way for his ministry. If Martin Luther king Jr. was to be unintelligent, his preaching about love and nonviolence may not have made much impact in the society. I have seen that the best form of emancipation is intellectual breakthrough and academic freedom. He got plenty of it, and he used it to advance his vision and goals.

Fifthly, he recognized the existence of God. I have more than 100 reasons to believe in God’s existence. I had a good background in Philosophy- and during my studies; we took time to analyze the existence of God and other Divine Beings. We read views from other scholastic thinkers- both Christians and atheists, at the end of the day, I came to the belief that God exist- and would continue to exist. He is the creator that was not created.

Sixthly, he loved his wife deeply, and this paved way to most of his successes. I have learnt how to love and care for my wife. When I do so, I will surely go places just like Martin Luther King Jr. did.

Finally, he talked about love. Love is a beautiful thing. I am happy; he lived and practiced the gospel of love till his last breathe. I have learnt how to be preacher of love and nonviolence even when I am provoked to do otherwise.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

So many quotes occupied my thinking faculty. But I am going talk about only four of them here:

“It is more honorable to walk in dignity than ride in humiliation”

Yes, judging from his own experience, I have learned how to walk in a more dignified manner no matter how things are, than to live in abundance in the company of fools. He followed the right people, right principles, and to a great extent succeeded in his pursuits. I have also discovered that the right people most often are not in the majority.

“But if democracy is to live, segregation must die.”

The principle of democracy contradicts the underlying principle of segregation. While the former to me, is the best form of government, segregation is an evil, a deprivation, a cancer in the political system and leadership, which must be removed if democracy must thrive in the civil society.

“Oppressed people can never remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright to freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.”

This was really a great statement. This was an offshoot from his Letter from Birmingham Jail I have come to the realization that unless one recognizes what is essentially possible for him, he can never reach his destination. If you are oppressed by anything, and you are doing nothing about the situation. You are bound to remain where you are. But the reverse will be the case if you work hard to extricate yourself from the apron string of the situation. Definitely, doing so will take your time, talent, zeal and of course resources. No one has ever achieved anything by folding his hand and looking at the situation; you must get out of your comfort zone and do something at the right time. Martin Luther King Jr did not fold his hand; he kept working hard all day long. Today, white supremacy or racism is now a history in America. This was a man who tried to brighten his generation with radiant stars of love and brotherhood. His movement seems to be one of the most inspiring movements that have ever taken place in the whole of American history.

Finally, he said, “hate is too great a burden to bear for a people moving on toward their date with destiny.”

Here he was talking about the gospel of love, and that we should shun violence and hatred in all its ramifications. Instead we should always remember the word of Jesus who said ‘Put up thy sword’. In continuation, he maintained that we may continue to disagree, but we need to do so without becoming violently disagreeable. This inspiring nugget of wisdom is another section of his writing that speaks volumes.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

To the best of my knowledge, an autobiography is a life history written by self, not written by someone else or assembled by same. This book is quite informative about the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr.; but it doesn’t qualify to be called an autobiography. I will tell you why I think so.

I admired the author’s intelligence; it was extremely difficult for me to drop down the book. Since this is an assemblage of writings documented by the family of the legend, and then written and edited by Clayborne Carson, it should never be referred as an autobiography, because most thoughts here might be adulterated by the editor in the course of editing.

I am a writer, so I know what I am saying. It is very easy for an editor to edit certain statements to suit his own ideas and beliefs, instead of the original idea of the writer. This is what I think that happened in this writing, and if that is the case, the original thought of the writer has been adulterated.

I believe also that since this book was not written entirely by Martin Luther King Jr. himself, there were certain things that weren’t said correctly, and many were not said at all. This is an outline of the account of his life, no doubt. But I am finding it difficult to accept it as an autobiography. I would have been okay if the title was “The Biography of Martin Luther King Jr.; written and edited by Clayborne Carson, not the other way round.

Overall I read and admire the book as a scholastic masterpiece on the life and times of a vibrant philosopher, and erudite theologian. The man who spent great deal of life fighting for what he believes in. Unfortunately, he was violently assassinated with the same weapon he was preaching against.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Just like I have said earlier, this is not an autobiography, because it was not written by Martin Luther King Jr; instead it is an account of life and times of the hero. I was thinking that some questions should have addressed these:

Did he practice what he preached?

Did he achieve what he spent his life preaching about?

Were people interested in his ideas?

Were people skeptical about his ideas?

Was he a victim of what he was preaching?

How is he remembered at the moment? Or is history fair to him? Etc.

I still think that the questions asked were in order. At least, they gave a summary of the entire work minus these few reservations.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The authors; Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen were deeply interested in finding out the effectiveness of one-on-one communication, and how it could help solve complex issues. They engaged students and professionals in their studies of peace and conflict resolutions.

Their background of study was in mediation, negotiation, and law. They based their work on findings in cognitive therapies, organizational behavior, communication theory, social psychology, especially as they relate to communication dynamics in families. They investigated the psychological findings of Carl Rogers and David Burns among others.

The approach in this book has helped me to accomplish a lot of results; make better decisions, and sort things out with my partner amicably.

Their useful applications of psychology make the work more amazing. If I apply them judiciously, they would transform my relationships both at home and in the office.

Difficult Conversations is an exceptional literary piece which offers tips why many difficult conversations fail; go awry. It delves into the core fabrics of diplomacy and offers recommendations on how to really understand the other person’s point of view, so as to have a productive discourse.

This book is not a manual on how to manipulate the other person, or persuade them to accept our points of view, instead it presents a method for understanding a competing arguments, helping me to understand my weakness, respecting the other person’s point of view, and gives very eminent steps that will help both of us to arrive at a better result.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

Difficult Conversations offers a lot of practical examples. While going through the work, it is impossible not to see a scenario you have been in the past- how bad we have been at several conversations, and how amazing our speech had been most times. People tend to react if the conversations affect their personal identity and integrity. A conversation is affected positively or negatively based on the image people have about each other. So, the way you handle a conversation depends on the extent you know yourself. Because when you don’t know yourself, you are prone to make a lot of mistakes.

i. A difficult conversation is anything you find it hard to talk about

You can never outgrow difficult conversations, it is evident even in most effective organizations and workplaces, even the family or relationship we think is perfect most times experiences difficult conversations. Some of the difficult topics we are engrossed with at one point or the other include race, sexuality, religion, gender, politics etc. Difficult conversation applies to how we deal with feelings- hurt, anger, guilt, especially when they escalate.

Also, it applies to how we relate with all kinds of people including, brokers, bankers, team members, neighbors, employees, employers, patients, customers, suppliers, tenants, landlords, parents, children and business partners. In this book, the authors tells us how to master the needed skills of expression that will help us to achieve effective communication both in personal dealings, business dealings, international affairs or international politics. They took time to explain some of the skills that will enable me to make my blissful marriage more enjoyable, and durable. I have read this book about five times, and at each time I keep having the longing to read more and read more.

ii. There is no such thing as a diplomatic hand grenade.

The authors succinctly puts it that there are no easy way or simple ways to fire someone, break up a relationship, raise the issue of prejudice, ask for a pay raise, confront your neighbour or mother-in-law or engage deeply in ‘anything you find it difficult to talk about. They liken difficult message to throwing a hand grenade. They insisted that ‘having tact or being diplomatic’ are still insufficient and are not perfect ways of going through a difficult conversation. We can’t hope that our good nature or niceness will make sure that everything goes smoothly.

The author maintained that instead of “delivering messages” or “throwing hand grenades,” difficult conversations can be replaced by what they call a ‘learning conversation’. This will ultimately reduce the stress we undergo when we are interacting with people, and increases the confidence of all parties involved. We can never overlook the importance of listening; it raises confidence and builds trust, and makes us to appreciate the other party. Tact is good, but it doesn’t guarantee effective results to difficult conversations. For instance, tact can never make conversations with your partner more intimate or take away your anger over an unnecessary increased bill.

I have discovered that tough conversations can be dealt effectively by treating people with integrity and decency. This will give you peace of mind. Of course, changing how you deal with such situations may take some time or a lot of research. But the good news is that the rewards worth the effort. So, it is a profitable venture.

iii. Difficult conversations are a normal part of life.

Irrespective of how good you are, difficult conversations will always be an issue, a herculean challenge. We are aware what it feels like to get hurt by a close friend, a brother, an associate or a business partner, and also what it feels to hurt someone. I know that even with best of intentions, human relationships are bound to corrode. That is why it is good to have realistic goals.

iv. ach difficult conversation is really three conversations.

The authors made it clear that our thoughts and feelings fall into the same ‘conversations or three categories’. And in each of them, we are bound to make predictable mistakes which can distort our thoughts and feelings, and most likely get us into trouble if we don’t take necessary actions.

Below are the three conversations:

The “What happened” conversation- some difficult conversations involve a disagreement of what has happened and what ought to happen, who said this, to whom, who did that, where did he do so, and in what occasion, who is right, who is to blame etc.

The authors dealt extensively on this topic. I marveled at their intelligence, and deep analysis of the issue.

The feelings conversation- every difficult conversation aims at asking and answering questions about our innermost feelings. Are my feelings valid? What should I do about the other person’s feelings?

The identity conversation- this is most times the crux of every conversation, because it deals intensively with our self-image, self-esteem, our ultimate well-being, and our future. Our reactions and answers to these questions, determine to a great extent whether we feel good in the course of the conversation or whether we feel anxious and off-center.

I have discovered that every discourse revolves around these three conversations. It will not be easy to manage these three successfully, but it is better than engaging in difficult conversations blindly. Human beings are expected to operate in each of these realms effectively.

v. The Feelings conversation: what we should do with our emotions.

This is a captivating admonition. Difficult conversations involve emotion. We are emotional beings. The question is not just having strong feelings, but how to manage the feelings. When you are uncomfortable with your boss’ managerial abilities, should you tell your boss? If so, how will you do so? What do you do with the colleague that stole your idea? Should you tell your sister that you are unhappy that she is a friend with your ex? This section is very important; it encourages us to remain resolute in the presence of strong feelings. It is not good to get too deep to feelings; it could becloud our reasoning, and plunge us to do things that are plainly inappropriate.

This section is suggesting that we should abstain from our feelings conversations altogether. After all, what if the other person is unhappy about our feelings, or responds to it in an unhealthy way or responds in a way that will damage the relationship. Above all, this section recognizes the very essence of being human, which is understanding feelings, managing feelings, and talking about feelings. Most times, it can be nice to talk about feelings, but we really need to master the art.

vi. To move forward, first understand where you are.

Self-discovery is always the gateway to self-actualization. Unless we recognize the importance of moving forward in life, we won’t go far. Understanding is very essential- we need to imagine ourselves into the other person’s story.

The authors suggest that this should be the first step. To move forward, we ought to know where we are. This will help us to understand the complexity of these two issues- our tendency to focus on blame and our tendency to misunderstand their intentions.

vii. It takes two to agree

Difficult conversation occurs between two parties. It requires certain amount of mutual accommodation and compromise to the other person’s needs. If you find problem-solving difficult, it is because you have not done the right things. Disagreements are bound to occur until both parties concur. Realizing that we don’t have to agree on most vital issues brings a sense of great empowerment, relief and great liberation.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas offered in this exciting book were really captivating. It gives us a framework for thinking why we are prone to communication issues, both in personal and professional relationships. The piece of advice that captivated my attention is to always know where we are coming from in every conversation, to always know the point we are trying to make. This helps us to move forward in the discussion.

The book guides us on how to handle clashing stories, or situations that endanger our emotions and self-worth. It offers valuable hints on how to incorporate our feelings, and the feelings of our opponent in a mature way especially during a conversation.

It is indeed a fantastic reference book for diplomats. I have recommended it to some of my students and audience in conferences, especially for those that want to have an amazing marriage or business relationships.

The last but not the least, I have learned how not to blame the other party for a problem, rather to understand that each of us contributed partly to the problem, and then learn the best way to tackle it through peace talks. I am happy I read this book at this point of my life. If I had read it years back, I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment, and I believe there were certain actions I took earlier that I would have done differently.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

I have tried to explain some ideas in question 2 above. Let me go further by describing some beautiful expressions made by these authors, and why they were very important to me:

“Being open to persuasion is a powerful stance to have. It allows you to be honest and firm about your current views, and to listen to theirs.”

The implication is that we should make it a point of duty to say what would persuade us to be more active, more creative and more productive.

“Not every conflict can be resolved by mutual agreement. Sometimes, even after highly skilled communication, you and the other person will simply fail to come up with an option that works for both of you. Then you are faced with a decision: should you accept less than what you want, or should you accept the consequences of not agreeing?”

They went further to explain that if you are walking away without agreeing, you will have to explain your reasons for doing so, because no one operates in isolation, you must have a reason for your actions. If possible, let the other party or the conflict resolution expert knows your reason or solutions that weren’t met, and most certainly you must be willing to accept the consequences.

“Be extra explicit about your intentions, reasoning, and your emotions.”

Ensure you understand yourself, your desires, your reasoning, and wants, be clear about your purpose. A life without purpose is meaningless. Don’t do things out of pretence, or to please someone. I read few years back, that the formula for failure is trying to please everyone. I have come to the realization that no matter what you do, some people will still not be happy with you. Some will still have multiple reasons to disagree with you. Some will never see anything good in you.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Overall, this book was well-written, and exceedingly helpful. I am glad I was able to peruse through this book. I am happy recommending to all.

At the beginning of the book, the authors succinctly state that ‘some conversations are very hard and no matter what you do, they will always be’. But he failed to analyze what one can do when faced with hard conversations, at least provide methodologies that would have simplified them.

I was really uncomfortable with this section, because the book should have gone ahead to provide the magic that will make them easy. Because of this singular act, I am not proud to call it a successful self-help literary masterpiece.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

The last section of the book titled ‘Road map to difficult conversations’ was particularly valuable. To me, I see it as a summary of the entire book. I reflected on them, and took it to heart. I took it as an exercise. Among other things, it dealt with ‘the three conversations, shift to a learning stance, don’t assume they meant it: disentangle intent from impact, the second mistake: good intentions don’t sanitize bad impact, abandon blame: map the contribution system, the feelings conversation, the identity conversation, create a learning conversation, getting started: begin from the third story, learning: listen from the inside out, expression: speak for yourself with clarity and power, problem-solving: take the lead, putting it all together, ten questions people ask about difficult conversations, notes on some relevant organizations etc.

As Tom Peters, one of the reviewers of the book says ‘…this is as a mind-bogglingly powerful book, for life’. Their analysis was relevant to real life, and it addressed some of the eye brows people have raised in the past about difficult conversations. The authors specialized in telling people how to handle difficult conversations with skill and confidence.

In between the lines of the book were filled with practical questions for the reader. While going through the book, I find myself asking those questions and giving authentic answers to them. Sometimes it gives me inspiration on how to answer certain questions and how to engage in some conversations.

Overall, the exercises were an ultimate guide, and a framework for tackling difficult conversations. Having gone through this book, I have been able to improve my relationships with people I have originally thought were ‘difficult’

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No! The questions handled every aspect of the book. It is a Bible for people engaged in difficult conversations. It clearly spelt out why certain conversations can be intense or so difficult. The book aims in making you understand the underlying emotions. I think people who are currently facing intimidating bosses, difficult friends, manipulative business partners and co-workers will see this book as a veritable goldmine of resource material.

Some of the explanations were indeed eye-opening, especially their premise that every conversations we face in everyday life is really three conversations namely: “the what happened conversation, the emotional conversation and the identity conversation. That is why the book offers tools that will help one to be successful in all kinds of conversations.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Raising Children Compassionately

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is a book for people searching to get effective parenting skills. Actually, I felt relieved to some extent when I stumbled upon this book. Although the content was far beyond what I even imagined. The author was talking about how we can improve family relationships using the nonviolent communicative way. Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg stresses the importance of being compassionate first.

This book is an extra ordinary resource material for parent educators, parents, families, and those who are deeply working with children. Being a parent himself, he was able to offer some useful suggestions. I am of the opinion that thousands or millions of parents must have used this book to deepen their family connections, enhance communications with their children, and resolve conflicts with them amicably.

He took a revolutionary approach which helps parents to motivate and harness the underlying potentials of their kids. One of the best ways of making your children to be useful is to encourage them to express themselves clearly and concretely.

Raising Children Compassionately helps one:

To get whatever they want easily without using demands, but through using requests.

It strengthens the emotional ties that bind parents and their children together.

To listen to the needs of the children and attend to them without much noise of words.

To know the reason behind the actions of kids

To reduce conflicts and rivalry in the family life

I have no doubt that Dr. Marshall is an internationally acclaimed peacemaker, and parent educator who has taken time to inspire many people over time. He has dedicated more than 40 years of his life teaching nonviolent communication around the world, especially to impoverished, violent corners of the world such as Nigeria, the Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Croatia, and many more. Amazingly, nonviolent communication is now being taught in schools, communities, prisons, churches, business schools, mediation center, life-coaching cum professional conferences. He has also conducted workshops and trainings in more than 30 countries.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

To get clearer view of certain things he mentioned, I had to engage myself with an exhaustive research and intellectual romance with some professionals.

i. Our education as parents

According to him, it is the sole job of the parent to make children behave well. However, this objective of getting people to do what we want them to do, even if the thing is against their wish, threatens their autonomy; their right to choose or do whatever that pleases them. When we are educated, we will know how to inspire them to be self-reliant, to believe in their own ideas even when others don’t share the same view. As a philosophy student, I was meant to understand that my views are very important even if my professors or mentors don’t share the same view.

I am created to have independent thoughts and creative originality. Definitely, they will be happy with my choice, because they are educated. As a parent, I will endeavor to teach my kids to believe in the beauty of their dreams, even when others don’t share the same view. I first learnt this principle from Abraham Lincoln; the ability to have faith in my ideas.

ii. The limitations of coercion and punishment

Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg has taught me in this little pamphlet that any use of coercion on my part would invariably inspire resistance on my children’s part, and this will surely affect the quality connection or relationship between us. To buttress his point further, he says: “now this concept of punishment is strongly advocated by most parents. Studies indicate that about 80% of American parents firmly believe in corporal punishment of their children. This is about the same percentage of the population that believes in capital punishment of criminals. So, with such a high percentage of the people believing that punishment is justified and necessary in the education of children, I’ve had plenty of opportunity over the years to discuss this issue with parents, and I’m pleased with how people can be helped to see the limitations of any kind of punishment.” Children are punished when their behaviors doesn’t augur well with our values.

He is advocating that punishment never works. Therefore, we should tell children whether their actions are in harmony with our needs, and acceptable norms. But we should do it in a way that will not tamper with their dignity or self-worth. There is nothing wrong evaluating their actions in moralistic terms of right/ wrong, good / bad, but we should ensure it doesn’t stimulate guilt or shame on them. This is what he called “empathic connection.”

iii. The limitations of rewards

According to him, it is “much more natural for people to connect in a loving, respectful way, and to do things out of joy for one another, rather than using punishment and reward or blame and guilt as a means of coercion. But such a transformation does require a good deal of consciousness and effort.” He is advocating that it is better to communicate our feelings, and need to our children in a more dignified way, rather than punishing them and coming up with reward latter. This seems to be a common norm among most parents especially in developing countries.

iv. Unconditional love

He is an apostle of unconditional love. The measure of love, Says Mother Teresa of Calcutta is to love without any measure. He is advocating that we love our children whole and entire without reservation. To love until it hurts; to love both in good and bad times. Unconditional love will make us to love our children irrespective of how they behave. It motivates us to keep being patient with them, never to give up on them. To have the courage to keep inspiring them.

v. The use of force

This was one of the interesting ideas that occupied my thoughts for a period of time. He took some time discussing two uses of force; the protective and the punitive use of force. The punitive summarizes the whole idea of punishment, whereby the person deserves to bear the consequences of his or her actions. Human beings, in this case are seen as evil, fallible, and sinful creatures- therefore, corrective measures ought to be taken so as to make them penitent. And the best way to make them penitent is by using some corrective measures. Definitely, the punishment is meant to have some psychological impact on them, through making them feel unhappy with themselves, ashamed or guilty.

In the protective, our attention is not on the child, but on the environment- we are more interested in controlling the environment than in controlling the child, and the aim of doing this is to prevent things from happening, especially those things we don’t want to happen. He advised parents to be conscious of these differences, and that anytime we use force; we should do so to protect, and not to punish in anyway. It is an attempt to control the child, to cross -examines his or her actions, and then learns to behave well.

vi. Supportive Communities

The author is encouraging us to see we can create supportive communities for ourselves among our friends, families and others. We can also build a supportive family or association by relating with our children in a compassionate way, an empathic way. We need to give our children what they need. We should strive not to be perfect parents, because he doesn’t believe there is anything like that, instead we should strive to be progressively less stupid parents.

vii. Some Basic Feelings we all have

Towards the end of the book, the author identified some basic feelings we all have as follows:

Feelings when needs are fulfilled; amazed, comfortable, confident, eager, energetic, glad, hopeful, inspired, intrigued, joyous, optimistic, proud, relieved, stimulated, surprised, thankful, touched and trustful.

Feelings when needs are not fulfilled; angry, annoyed, concerned, confused, disappointed, confused, discouraged, distressed, embarrassed, frustrated, helpless, hopeless, moved, impatient, irritated, lonely, nervous, overwhelmed, puzzled, reluctant, sad, and uncomfortable.

Anatomy; choosing dreams, goals, values, choosing plans for fulfilling one’s dreams, goals, and values. Celebration; celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled. Celebrating losses; loved ones, dreams etc (mourning). Others are physical nurturance, play, integrity, spiritual communion, and interdependence.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas in this book are quite useful and informative. It offers tools that will help me react in a more decent, courteous, calm and calculated manner with my kids and children in general. The topic is very vital, and the message is clear. I am motivated to enjoy parenthood and master the art of parenting. The author has just informed me that children deserve the same equal rights with adults.

The book is written in a friendly, conversational tone with simple English. While I was reading it, I took the author as a senior brother or father teaching me on how to be a great dad to my precious kids. The book did not consume much of my time. I was able to finish it within two hours. But what makes the difference was the fact that I read it over and over again. I spent a great deal of time reflecting on the things the author was talking. He wasn’t just talking; instead he was talking something really important, something I really need. While reading it, I was gradually becoming aware of how to treat children, and how to treat guests and other children with the same love and admiration. He advised us to guide our children while respecting their basic needs, autonomy and independent choices.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“We need to be able to tell children whether what they are doing is in harmony with our needs, or in conflict with our needs, but to do it in a way that doesn’t stimulate guilt or shame on the child’s part.”

Here, I comprehend that it is good to correct our children when they err, but we should do it in a more decent and lovely manner. So that, they will see it that we are correcting them, and not punishing them. Our corrective measure should never end up stimulating guilt or shame on them.

“When people hear demands, it looks to them as though our caring and respect and love are conditional. It looks as though we are only going to care for them as people when they do what we want.”

People should know that we love them unconditionally. And we should prove this both in words and deeds. We shouldn’t care for others only when they do things that are in tandem with our likes. Even when we want them to do what we like, we should do so in a more loving, respectful way. In fact, this book is recommended to everyone; children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues or anyone that loves children.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The author speaks because of the love and respects he has for children. I am particularly uncomfortable with the author in one aspect; he talked about some techniques that would help us to communicate non-violently with our children. I believed he could have offered more tips to the reader than he did.

I know that some readers may need additional guidelines after going through this book. So, they may end up going to other nonviolent communication centers near them. This book is just an excellent supplement to his popular masterpiece “Nonviolent Communication.” Most of the ideas he talked in this book were a repetition of what he had already said in “Nonviolent Communication.” However, what tried to differentiate this book was his overview of how one can raise children using the philosophy of non-violent communication. Sadly, he failed to elaborate the actual techniques. It seems to me, that the author is trying to motivate the reader to buy all his Nonviolent Communication books. If this is so, then he is nothing but a business man, and a literary giant at the same time.

Don’t crucify me yet. I have my reasons. When I picked up the book to read, I had the impression that I was reading an excellent manual that would help me to raise children clearly and amicably, an excellent book that would help me to understand all the rigors of training and communicating with children non-violently.

But I was disappointed along the line, because he lacked points to express most ideas. In some cases, he will raise a good point, and then tell one or two stories, mumble over the idea and then jump into another point. I am usually left to sort myself out by making further research about the topic to get more information.

Towards the end of the book, Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg seems to confirm my earlier stand that he may be a business man, because he dedicated many pages advertising his books and similar contents. Overall, the book is worth the time spent reading it. But, I think the author should be giving it a way for free to people that buy any of his voluminous Nonviolent Communication books or better still sell it a much more cheaper rate. It is ridiculous and doesn’t make any economic sense to charge for this pamphlet.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

There were no exercises in the book. But I took time to memorize the four-part nonviolent communication process discussed by the author namely; observations, feelings, needs and requests. I took it as my assignment. I reflected on them, and even scribbled little piece out of them.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No! I think the questions addressed all my concerns.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 7
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The Power of Failure: 21 Ways to Turn Life’s Setbacks into Success

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The Power of Failure by Dr. Charles Manz offers insightful advice and inspiration on how failures can provide foundation for our success. I read the book cover to cover two times, and was amazed at the author’s creative originality cum ingenuity.

His analysis was filled with practical strategies, inspiring real-life examples, stories, and anecdotes which will help us to reach our full potentials. After reading this book, I have re-confirmed my earlier belief that one should learn from his or her mistakes and never repeat them. This is required to achieve success. If you want to learn the art of investing for success or learn how to cope with disappointments, then this is the right book to read.

The principles here could be applied profitably both in private and business life. It is easy to read, easy to understand and straight to the point. His stories were insightful and filled with golden nuggets.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. To succeed more, fail more

I want to be highly successful in life by the special Grace of God. Dr Manz is advocating that those who wish to succeed more should do the seemingly unthinkable- fail. According to him, “a failure should not be viewed as the end of the story, but instead as a stepping-stone to a larger success. If someone never fails, this is a telltale sign that he is not trying anything new or challenging.”

The principle of success is the same everywhere. To succeed in life, failure is inevitable. Sometimes failing might be the only option for you to succeed. Some people are learning this the hard way. Over time, people have consulted me severally, asking me why life is not a bed of roses. I have never failed to let them know that why will they prefer to have things easy, while they can still have it tough. When you are challenged, you will be encouraged to keep trying till you reach your destination of excellence.

Life is not meant to be easy, even God had to demonstrate it by spending time to create all there are in six days, and then got rest on the seventh day- when He has achieved His aim. He has the power to create everything within 1 hour, but He chose to go the other way around. It is not easy to learn something without making mistakes. If you have failed about ten times trying to learn something, don’t give up. You have just discovered ten ways that didn’t work, keep trying new methods till success is achieved.

You have no reason to be a perpetual failure. This book is an eye-opener. He encouraged all of us to heed to the advice of author Carole Hyatt: “if you haven’t failed at least three times today, you haven’t tried anything new.”

ii. Be a successful learner by learning from failure

He identified learning from mistakes as one of the most powerful pillars of long-term success. Life itself is filled with ups and downs. But to live a successful, well-lived and a challenging lifestyle, we must pass through these, and we are expected to learn from them. So many things have happened to me in the past, which were very unpleasant both in my personal and business life. But, I am not perturbed by them. I have tried the best I could to learn from them. I have managed my thought process to the extent that I don’t allow negative influences to stampede me from actualizing my dreams. Whatever obstacle I meet on the way, I always take it as one of the price I will pay to be highly successful.

Failure is a price for success. I have learnt to always move forward despite the ups and downs. Our author maintains that ‘setbacks are simply evidence of a need for change and a chance to learn.”

While accepting the Honorary Doctoral degree conferred on him by University of Michigan, Dr. Charles Manz said: “many people dream of success. To me success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work that results from the ninety-nine percent that is called failure.”

iii. Learn the challenging secret to successful failure; Patience

Acccording to him, many people are finding it difficult to incorporate this to their work and life. But patience is needed if you want to use the power of failure. He emphasized the importance of failure for those that wish to succeed. In his view, products and businesses pass through three phases namely: vision, patience and execution. Patience stage is the toughest and most uncomfortable, while the vision and execution can be very satisfying and comfortable.

I have seen the reason why many 21st century entrepreneurs are finding it extremely difficult to handle the patience stage. Dr Charles is suggesting that investors and employees should either be patient or get out of the business- there is no short cut to this. You have to choose one.

iv. In the face of failure, search for opportunities, not obstacles

Here, he is talking about harnessing the power of failure. Our success depends largely on the way we think. We should always focus more on harnessing opportunities rather than getting perturbed on obstacles. He advocates that we should program ourselves to be “opportunity thinkers,” but this is not an easy work.

Further scientific investigations shows that the way we think influences our longevity, health, performance and other kinds of successful living. Elbert Hubbard advice that ‘the greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one’ almost in the same vein, Dr Charles Manz maintains that “if you want to be successful in life, continually fill your mind with opportunities, not obstacles, so that you will create them.” Thus, we should strive to withstand failure and obstacles to success and work towards utilizing more opportunities.

v. To be a real success, you must fail

Some failures that confront us are simply challenges in progress. I have come to agree with the author that failure present us with certain kind of challenges such as personal growth, learning, courage, skill development, the potential for empathy, persistence and other desirable life assets. To get to the top where life is less congested, we must wrest with failure.

vi. Fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to living a full and rewarding life.

I have said earlier that failure is the price we have to pay for success to come. I have started to admire failing; when I fail in a particular task, I am challenged to try again. Sometimes, when I try again, I used to achieve success.

One of the worst things that can happen to anybody is the fear of failure. Avoiding mistakes can be fatal. As he rightly said: “the fear of failure is enough to stop many people in their tracks and lead them to give up without even trying.” So, failure is capable of providing us with the necessary ingredients for long-term success.

vii. Help others to win, even at your own expense, to help yourself.

When I was a philosophy student, I took time to engross myself with the existential philosophy of Martin Buber’s ‘I-thou’ relationship’ it was one of the philosophical theories I loved so much, because of the special reference it has for the human condition. I took time to read about it, discussed it with friends and wrote some articles on it.

Understanding that great philosophy on human relations made me to appreciate Socratic discussions on friendship. You cannot help someone you don’t love. To help is to love. To live with someone who doesn’t love you or whom you don’t love is a greater virtue. This saying by Dr Charles has just reminded me those things I read more than six years back.

Dr. Charles encouraged us to place a big emphasis on achieving victories of others, especially people we care about. We are advised to help people in need. It is better to develop people than to build infrastructures. But, if you build infrastructures without first of all developing people, those people can destroy the infrastructure you have spent years building within a twinkle of an eye.

Mentoring people motivates them to make significant success in the sands and hearts of human historicity- they will grow in their careers and that is ultimately the true nature of success. The same goes when we mentor classmates, colleagues, teammates, and valued friends. It can be awesome to make someone win both in personal and professional issues. The goal of a mentor is to increase the quality of life of the mentee.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

“The Power of Failure” came at the right time. I will try to synthesize the ideas already discussed with the four sections of the book. The author broke it down into four sections. Each section is designed for people facing a particular situation. In question 2, I tried to talk about seven ideas that were insightful when I was going through the book. Dr Charles talked about ‘redefining failure and success’- he spent some time reflecting on the influential lives of some people. It even gave me the opportunity to browse about these amazing personalities, people like Mozart, Beethoven, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Ed Land ( inventor of instant photography & founder of Polaroid), Martin Seligman, Steve Jobs and many more.

I learned something great from these people. I have heard many motivational speakers, writers, life coach and business experts say without number that if we help people get what they want, we usually get much value ourselves. This was one of the secrets of Steve Jobs. He knew how to help others win.

Apparently, he was much more concerned on helping his company and its employees to succeed, and cared less about his victory on the executive wealth playing field. In business, one of the greatest way executives and entrepreneurs measure their level of success is through the volume of accumulated wealth and their salary level. This section was timeless- even if I didn’t read any other thing else, I am satisfied with this content.

The second section talks about “Winning through Losing;” this presented us with powerful strategies that can assist us in winning personal relationships. According to him, “real winners learn the art of winning through losing;” here, he is specifically admonishing us to embrace the audacity of giving; help someone else. When we help someone we are simply donating our time, talents and treasure for their overall well-being.

In the third section, he discussed “Coping with Failure”- to me, this is the most popular of his discourse. While reading it, I was deeply engrossed in it. At a point, I felt like shedding tears- Dr Manz took me on a long journey, filled with practical examples and insightful stories on how someone can cope with failure. He didn’t stop at that; he went ahead to reflect on how some people have coped with failures. The fear of failure is enough to make feeble minds give up on their pursuit of excellence. If we can accept failure as a necessary part of life, it will motivate us to transcend the hurricane forces in life, and effectively achieve success. Throughout the section, he tried to make one point clear: ‘what we call failure is usually only a temporary setback or a challenge of progress…failure is really failure…this requires that we face it honestly and avoid going too far to redefine it.” He explained this fact further by stating that failure is failure when we:

Choose an unethical or immoral act

Act selfishly in a way that harm others

Perpetrate an intentional destructive deception on others

Commit to something and don’t follow through, not because of an honest mistake or personal lack of current capability, but because we don’t make a sincere effort to honor our commitment.

He demonstrated an analytical fecundity by citing the story of the Biblical David. Biblically, we were told in the Old Testament that David was a great man. He achieved a lot of giant strides in his life, such as he defeated the fiery goliath, became the king of Israel, and authored many Psalms. But he committed so many atrocities like sleeping with a married woman. Adultery has been an abomination right from the Biblical times till date. As a wealthy and powerful king, he didn’t just had an affair with Bathsheba- a married woman, he went ahead and arranged for his husband to be killed in a battle so that he can have his wife forever. The moral lesson in that version of the Bible was the fact that David felt angry with himself for having offended God and man- he retreated, made an amendment and became God’s favorite. To the extent that among all the Biblical personalities, David was the only man “after God’s own heart.”

The most inspiring lesson here is that his ability to face his personal failure, changed his life, and embraced a noble life was quite commendable. Dr Charles also gave other practical examples, such as the controversies that surrounded the presidential sex scandals of Nixon Watergate and Bill Clinton. Yes, such actions can leave a deep scar, but learning from such experiences can really lead us to a noble path. Even in the business world, when we are faced with such actions, we are most often inclined to bargaining, depression, denial, anger and acceptance. But our ability to take responsibility of our undoing, not mounting attack on others will make us to learn from the mistakes, and have renewed long-term success. After all, no man is above mistakes. What we call failures or mistakes can transcend into a stepping-stone to a significant success. But we must face the fact that we failed, if we refuse to do so, we will keep sinking deep. Let me stop here, and go to the final section.

The fourth section, ‘collaborating with failure’ was another interesting strategy. He was talking about investing in our future. The future is bright. With the ever-rising number of significant businesses coming on board everyday- this is an important book. It dealt with not just about business, but how to live a more personal and professional lifestyle.

His pattern of analysis is different from the societal norm or teaching on failure. The society tells us to fear failure, and that we are failures if our project fails. Some schools of thoughts maintain that we are failures or doomed if our projects fails periodically or half-way. Moving forward, Dr Manz informed us the importance of redefining our failure, using failure as a stepping-stone or a learning process.

Failure helps us to grow, plan, or project ourselves to prominence. The purpose of failure is to make us better people. Failure provides a framework for improving the quality of our lives. It is a workable tool for success, though it could be a devastating factor if we don’t learn from it. Most people don’t like to talk about failure, while some are skeptical about failure. When I fail in anything, I have discovered that a particular method did not work; I will now dig for another method that will work. I doff my cap for the author.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Use the challenge of potential failure as your exercise equipment for achieving self-mastery and future success.”

“Use failures, whatever their size, to achieve even larger success.”

My humble submission on them:

The author has provided us with a great book on leadership and business. I believe that if we implement his principles, we will do great things. One of the things I enjoy about his writings is that they are based on solid research.

While reflecting on these quotes, I am highly influenced to be the best I can be; to embrace self-leadership and achieve self-mastery. Self-leadership is the art of influencing oneself to become the best- it is all about completing difficult tasks, handling unforeseen obstacles, and making good use of talents, and abilities.

From his writings, I have learned that hard work and focus are good, but they are not sufficient to achieve success, instead it can be a step forward or a learning process. He backed his points with practical stories from great personalities by showing us how many of them turned their failures into a stepping stone to success.

“The classical difference between an achiever and under-achiever depends largely on how they handle failures or the dilemmas, bearing in mind that history always celebrates successful people or achievements, and only remember failures occasionally.”

I recommend this book to all students of entrepreneurships, job-seekers, unemployed, of people undergoing a hard time at their work places. Going through this book will inspire them never to give up, even in the face of failure. The book is directly applicable to private and corporate lives.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I read this book critically. I was not able to find a point I disagreed with. More than 60% of the techniques and things he said here were new to me. So, he ended up teaching me new skills and styles of leadership and self-mastery.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No! As the author says the book offer prescriptions for a more productive, prosperous, and peaceful life. I went through it critically, and discovered that he was actually saying the truth.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.
A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



The Great Game of Business: The only sensible way to run a company

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is one of the best business books I have read in recent times. The erudite scholar explains that all employees and everyone that wants to make money in a company should read it. He believes everything is a game.

Jack Stack explains the principles one can employ to run his or her business. He gave specific examples on how those principles work, and how they have worked for many people in the past. He advocates open book management, thereby making every employee owners, tell them what is going on in the company, get them involved in its operations and watch their amazing performance within the shortest possible time. The author himself has applied for this principle in his professional life, and he has seen the amazing results. According to him: “the best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everyone in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad.”

The policies he adopted were very simple and effective. I discussed some of his policies to a friend, and he says that most of Jack Stack’s policies were too good to be true. But actually, the policies he adopted were indeed factual. He wasn’t mincing words, he had faith in his ideas, and he didn’t hide his feelings.

He took time to explain what he called ‘The higher laws of business’ which includes:

1. You get what you give

2. it’s easy to stop one guy, but it’s pretty hard to stop 100.

3 .What goes around comes around

4. You do what gotta do

5. You gotta wanna

6. You can sometimes fool the fans, but you can never fool the players

7. When you raise the bottom, the top rises.

8. When people set their own targets, they usually hit them.

9. If nobody pays attention, people stop caring.

10. Change begins at the top, or-as we say in Missouri- shit rolls downhill.

To all these he added the 11th law ‘the ultimate higher law’ (when you appeal to the highest level of thinking, you get the highest level of performance). To me, these are the laws that have been responsible for the success of many businesses. The author said that he didn’t know where he learned these laws, but you don’t hear them in the Business School. He picked them up on the street. These laws he randomly gathered inspired him to write the book ‘The Great Game of Business’. These laws sum up our success stories; emphasize how thoroughly dependent we are on one another- and how strong we are because of it. The basic rule of the game is to make money and generate cash. Every other thing is a means to that end. These two simple rules apply to every business. Unfortunately, most times people are never told that the success of every business depends on these two things.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

a. The biggest barrier is ignorance

The first time I came across this idea, I laughed. I am not laughing because he is not saying the truth; instead I am laughing because of what ignorance has done to many business people in the past, and possibly doing to a lot of them at the moment. The Holy Bible succinctly puts it that people perish because of ignorance. Almost in the same vein, Aristotle of the modern enlightenment says that ‘Knowledge is power’. When people are acting out of ignorance, it makes them to commit unimaginable business atrocities.

He went ahead to identify three levels of ignorance namely; the ignorance of the top management whereby many top managers believe that they have monopoly of knowledge. Most of them tend to think that people down the ladder are incapable of understanding its problems and responsibilities, believing that they can’t offer useful ideas to the advancement of the company’s goals and objectives.

The second is the ignorance of the people on the shop floor- most times; the people at this level don’t understand why mangers take some decisions in the company, without consulting them, thereby affirming that the whole mistake in the company were caused as result of combination of greed and stupidity.

Thirdly, the ignorance of the middle managers- sometimes they are unable to make a choice between the excessive demands of top managers and the workforce. In the bid to try to please both partners, they will make so many mistakes.

To me, middle managers face almost 50% of the challenges of the company, because they see themselves serving two masters- if they concur with the top management, they are against the workforce, if they are in total agreement with the workforce, they are in conflict with the top management. Thus, pleasing themselves becomes a herculean task.

Some people who work in a company don’t understand the business at all. They don’t know that 40% of their profit goes to taxes. They are finding it extremely difficult to understand how a company will be making profit, but finding it difficult to pay their utility bills, or pay salaries. They are generating cash, but always at a loss- all these and many more are traced to ignorance. Knowledge inspires, and leads the way. This is what every business owner should strive to eliminate. You don’t need to be an entrepreneurial genius to be successful in business, all you need to do is to learn the rules, master the fundamentals and get people work together as a team.

b. Companies are getting rid of people and replacing them with machines.

All these boils down to the ignorance we are talking about. Most business people have never learnt that ignorance can kill a company faster than you can ever thought possible.

Those entrepreneurs doing this are thinking that people are contingent liability. They have not understood that productivity depends on people. It is undoubtedly true that machines can make your company more competitive, but they don’t offer progressive ideas, and they don’t take breaks.

People can work effectively if you give them the necessary skills acquisition, or rainings. It is your duty to teach your employees how to make money and generate cash, and also how to remain focused in pursuing the goals of the company. Most big entrepreneurs have learnt how to play this game. About 90% of them are playing it well. Most businesses fail because of their inability to reach their set targets; because the managers have not taught people how to generate wealth or share in that distribution. If you don’t give people the opportunity to be productive, they will keep coming up with excuses, they will keep thinking that they can’t make a difference, and that is one of the biggest problems we face in today’s business. Most of them will keep doubting their own creative originality and fecundity.

c. When you treat people badly, you lose power

This idea is the crux of his third higher law: “what goes around comes around.” It is always good to be honest with people. If you are honest with them, they will believe in you and rely on you as their number one source of information. They will be sincere with you, and loves to work with you. But if they discover you are insincere with them, they will always be coming up with reasons to deal with you. Yes, they will try to play it smart. Be careful, because your business is at stake, and don’t ever take people’s sincerity for granted. Or else, they will accomplish the opposite- making sure your business crash.

But when you treat badly or lies to them, they won’t like you. Most times you get paid more or you get promoted when you are honest. That is one of the game, Jack is talking about. Becoming a manager involves a lot of responsibilities. You will be scrutinized in everything you do, you will give up some of your freedom, and you are expected to walk the talk and set realistic examples. People will not just believe your words alone; they will like to follow your footsteps. So, as a manager, you have more work to do, than when you are just an ordinary worker.

People are always looking up to you for answers. But don’t think you will have solution to all kinds of problem. Such attitude can lead you to a fatal mistake. I have seen some supervisors who are afraid to set up meetings with the workforce because they think they will be asked questions they may not be able to answer; some think that their juniors in the office are smarter than them. So, they won’t like to organize a meeting, so that they don’t mess themselves up. But that is absolutely wrong. If people are smarter than you, that is more reason why you should use them to your advantage. Get close to them, savor their ideas, include them in your circle of friends, organize meetings and events and explore their ideas. Believe me; you will be happy doing this.

One thing a manager should do is not just to attempt to provide answers to all the questions, but to create an enabling environment or a level of creativity that will make answers to come out, so we should try to make people believe in us, try to make them creative and challenge them to give in their best talents, and skills in achieving the company’s goals.

d. It is a big mistake to promote people too quickly

In the business world,people are not just promoted, and they should prove themselves beyond every reasonable doubt. When you promote people, you are giving them more opportunities to contribute their quota towards the advancement of the company. If you promote people too quickly without conducting an in-depth interviews and evaluations, you are bound to make a lot of mistakes.

e. The best games are those that promote teamwork and togetherness, that creates a spirit of cooperation

Team building, is essential to the success of every business. Build a team; you can’t work alone, for no man is an island. Team building is required for the growth of any company, especially those facing a lot of problems. Teams can be used to build the company’s credibility or outstanding profile. The point here is not just to build the team only, but building confidence in them makes the difference.

Compliment your team every time you record success. This will make them to feel happy, good and build self-esteem. Your team might be feeling insecure, or bored, but if you don’t celebrate them, you have missed the opportunity to cheer them up.

Do not set too many goals for people, don’t send them mixed messages, let them all have the same objectives. Setting too many goals are unnecessary and useless. But setting at least two or three goals each year might yield more results. Motivate your team to work for you. When you motivate them, you are giving them the reason to do the job.

f. Make it possible for people to earn bonuses frequently enough to keep them involved in the game.

One of the biggest mistakes some companies make is to give out one bonus per year. That kind of bonus is not a reward for excellent work done; instead it is a bribe says Jack Stack. It is necessary to give workers the chance of earning bonus every three months or quarterly as the case maybe. Our author has discovered that such actions keep people focused. Most companies also engage in monthly bonus. You can start with a small bonus and let it grow through the year.

g. Provide a stake in the outcome

Those who participate in elevating the company does so because they have some interest in the outcome; they come to work to win, because they believe that their activities will yield recognition, ownership and significant reward.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

Employers and entrepreneurs are solely challenged to inspire, motivate and engage their people to keep working for the organization for a long period of time. Employers who are able to attain these lofty goals can drive more money, dominate their markets, and enjoy a credible, productive, friendly and happy workforce. This journey can be painful, educative and most times fascinating, but it comes with benefits that exceed the wildest dreams of the teams who made it work. The implication is that the more the employees know and exhibit their talents, the more they will support the company’s visions and missions.

What Jack is trying to make here is to motivate every employee to be more involved, more educated, end-result-more loyal, and more committed. In this case, they will not just be workers, but a part of the team. Their advice are being sought always so as to drive the company’s success. The questions asked by Jack in this book are thought-provoking, created a hunger in me to soak myself into deep thinking. If the solutions offered in this book were properly applied, they will to a great extent change the way we do business. I am happy that they were written by someone who has been in the business world for donkey years. The ideas proffered in this book will guide me to be a great business person; never to overlook the importance of the workforce towards the advancement of my business. It delves into a unique way of doing business different from the one known to me earlier than now.

I feel like I am now in any of the Ivy League business schools, or receiving tips from world-class consultants. One thing is sure, my personal and professional life will never remain the same because I have perused through this book. The author took a revolutionary approach to business and organizational leadership.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Leaders don’t have to have all the answers. They need to know where to go.”

In this scenario, Jack is recommending team work and collaboration so as to reach the company’s goals and objectives. Every leader should make it a point of duty to tap the power of teamwork, delegating and making sure that every person knows his or her role. Division of labor makes the difference. Working together as a team is the perfect thing to do any day, any time.

Teamwork inspires us to make a difference, helps to build amazing business leaders. No man knows it all; you need the help of others to succeed in your business. I have come to understand that leaders who think they have all the answers, makes one of the biggest mistakes in their companies. Most times their bad of style of leadership can make the company to go into extinction within a short time.

Jack maintained that we can run a reputable system built on three great principles namely: First, every employee should be given the measures of business success, and taught them to understand them: know and teach the rules. Secondly, every employee should be expected and enabled to act on his or her knowledge to improve performance: follow the action and keep score. Thirdly, every employee should have a direct stake in the company’s success and risk of failure: provide a stake in the outcome.

Jack advocates what he called the ‘psychic ownership’-letting people know how your business works. When you do this, they will feel a sense of ownership and commitment.

“The only sensible way is to make money and generate cash. Everything else is a means to that end.”

This rule apply to all kinds of businesses. Unfortunately, most people are not properly informed that the survival of their businesses depends on the way they handle these two things. Jack discovered this, and that was why he struggled to develop a system that will make every person to get together, and work towards achieving the company’s goals. To achieve this, he tried to knock down the barriers that prevent people from coming together and working as a team.

“Everything we do is based on a common understanding that job security is paramount- that we are creating a place for people to work not just this year or five years from now, but for the fifty years and beyond. We owe it to one another to keep the company alive…the only way to know if your job is safe is by looking at the financial statements.”

I understand here that wherever we are working, we should always know the company’s financial worth at every point. This will ultimately save us a lot of embarrassment.

“People only get beyond work when their motivation is coming from the inside…Management is all about instilling that desire to win. It’s about instilling self-esteem and pride, that special glow you get when you know you’re a winner. Nobody has to tell you. You just feel it. You know it.”

To me, this is one of the best definitions of human resource management, it is the ability to manage people, inspire them, train them, and give them the privilege of utilizing their skills. I know that this section will be particularly good as I go into the establishment of business school. I have recommended them to some of my clients, and people who are their own bosses. It is exclusively reserved for those who are deeply involved in consultancy, life coaching, and business trainings as well as managers. Jack’s solution is authentic and priceless for any student of business studies.

“If you are running the meeting, be careful to avoid the trap of being the person with all the answers. I never want people to think they are reporting to me so that I can tell them what to do. What is important is for me to keep putting back in their hands the responsibility and the tools for earning more.”

This is simply telling me that I don’t have all the answers, despite my professionalism on a particular discipline. Therefore, welcoming the suggestions of others can really make a huge difference.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Yes, I have a little reservation with the book. According to Jack, Shit rolls downhill. He thinks he is the shit. He is recommending that everyone should be a stake in the business, both the employer and the employee. I am not saying the message is bad, but I am not fine with his manner of presentation.

Severally, I read where he was congratulating himself in the book, attempting to present himself like an imperial lord. To me, that was the height of his pride in the book, and pride usually puts me off- no matter how you try to present or twist it, I will not be ok with it. I am not saying he shouldn’t tell us areas he thinks he failed or succeeded, but self-aggrandizement is totally a turn-off for me.

Whenever I read those statements, I don’t get it easy with him, but I try to accommodate his views, because everyone seems to be right in his own judgment. I understand probably, he was doing those things to motivate readers. Overall, his message on employee ownership and open book management is sound, effective, and definitely worth employing any day any time.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

The book I read (20th anniversary edition) did not contain any exercises for reader to complete. But towards the end, the author dedicated some pages in talking about the overview of the principles and practices of the great game of business.

Below are some of the amazing topics he discussed; the goals, the strategies, every employee, know and teach the rules, follow the action and keep score, provide a stake in the outcome, know and teach the rules, financial transparency and education, high-involvement planning, the critical number, mini-games, ownership.I went through the points discussed, and it was like reading an abridge form of the book. I want to thank the author for that wonderful analysis. It was written in clear and simple English. Another advantage that section had was, that it made me to remember all the thought-provoking issues raised in the entire book. These issues are what keep my mind in active mood all through the reading. I have gotten some inspirations that could make me to be a great business expert, and coach.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

The questions almost covered everything about the book. But I think one question is missing- since this is a business book, I should have been asked something like ‘how do you think people will react after reading this? Or have you applied any of the principles mentioned in this book to anyone or business? If so, for how long and what was the results?’ I am making this observation because, I have actually tried the principle in my own little way, and I saw the results almost instantly. I equally advice some of my clients to repeat same in their businesses, and the story was amazing. I read this book three times- after the second time; I gave myself one month to put some of the principles into practice.

It was when I discovered that the policies were working so well, that I decided to teach it to others, some bought the idea and applied, and experience positive results. I have learnt how not to neglect anyone, how to give people the privilege to work in a conducive environment, and how to make their ideas count. Overall, the book is highly recommended to business people; it is a reference guide for those who wish to make outstanding breakthroughs in their businesses. This book is helpful to business planning, forecasting and employee development. It is a source of inspiration for people like me that wants to go full-time into the business world.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9

Gandhi An Autobiography: The story of my experiments with Truth

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This book is an autobiography of a world- class freedom fighter; it is an immortal book and a legacy for generations to come. It covers Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual life and experiments with truth and God. One of the great things about this autobiography is that it was written by the author himself. He talked about his childhood days, his various experiments with the powerful forces of Satyagraha, his evolution from Mohan to Mahatma. His endless search for truth and God till 1921, when he has become so popular that he felt he doesn’t have any other thing to write about.

His nonviolent philosophy and struggles both in India and South Africa has brought him to prominence. That was why he was able to do things worth writing, and wrote things worth reading any time any day. In the autobiography, he took time to explain himself, and write what he meant about striking situations that confronted him. He was really a rare gem, a great revolutionary who fought against the forces of violence, racism and colonialism. Gandhi explained that he was much interested in the search for truth, which is deep-rooted in God. To me, the search for truth in this stance is the search for meaningful existence. I think he got it in abundance, because he succeeded in his fight.

The author made several attempts to get intimate with God- this led him to pursue purity of life through ahimsa (a life without violence), dietary practices, (he referred himself as a fruitarian), celibacy and simple living. It is based on these pursuits that he called this masterpiece “The Story of My Experiments with Truth.” It is a reference material for those who would like to follow his principles of life.

It is also important to note that this is one of the greatest autobiographies written on the surface of the earth, and it has been translated in several languages of the world. Perhaps, no man has succeeded in shaping the course of history with peace, and weapon of non-violence (ahimsa) in India more than Mahatma Gandhi. His principles, deep search for truth and timeless weapon of non-violence has remained relevant to the present-day even after more than 90 years of these happenings and events.

I was happy to know that his teachings motivated Martin Luther King Jr. Unfortunately; most people who preach nonviolence are usually killed via violent means. This book is a confession of Gandhi’s complete trust in God, and a documentation of his thoughts on ahimsa, struggle against colonialism, racism, and violence.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

The author is a great man by all standards of comparison. Many people regard him both as a strong spiritual and political leader in India, because of the eminent way he fought for his country’s independence from British rule with the weapon of non-violence. India didn’t become free on a platter of gold; it took so many years of struggles. The good news is that he succeeded in inspiring millions of people to follow his footsteps. Having gone through this book three times, I can say that I have gained a lot from Gandhi’s peaceful movements and revolutionary actions:

i. Simple lifestyle

When I picked this book to read, I wasn’t intimidated by its volume, instead I was marveled by the volume and quality of its contents. I picked it and read it meditatively three consecutive times. The author practiced a life of simplicity, creativity, and originality. He relinquished all luxuries of life, and lived with only things that were essential to his struggles and beliefs. He wasn’t a burden to himself, and to the people around him. Unlike most present day freedom fighters in Africa and around the world, he wasn’t frugal. That was why he devoted much attention to spiritual matters, and less to material acquisitions.

ii. Selfless Service

He was selfless to the core. He was a successful lawyer, but he abandoned his legal career in the pursuit of freedom for his people. His deep interest in social causes, helping the unloved, the poor, and less privileged in his country were legendary.

iii. Courage

Courage is number one principle of heroism or excellence. Gandhi was able to demonstrate this by visiting the Buckingham palace in London, appearing in his simple attire and was able to have some discussions with the King. When I got to this point, I was inspired beyond description to stick to my moral convictions, even when others don’t share the same view with me. Gandhi was courageous enough. He wasn’t afraid to air his views on vital issues.

iv. A leader by example

Gandhi believed that changing the world doesn’t just happen; one has to start by first of all changing himself. He led an exemplary life through his life and actions. I am personally motivated to inspire others by the life I live, not just by words.

v. Strong-willed

Our author suffered so many blows without revenging or flinching. As a refined mind, he showed superiority of mind over matter by his active nonviolent resistance. This simple act propelled India’s revolution, independence and a host of other nonviolent struggles around the world in the 20th century. In the foreword to this book, Sissela Bok, a teacher, and peace expert admonished us to adopt Gandhi’s ‘ attitude of experimenting, of testing what will and will not bear close scrutiny, what can and cannot be adapted to new circumstances’ so as to bring the needed change in our lives, communities, and surrounding regions.

I feel motivated; I am both mentally and physically encouraged to act with convictions’ despite the hurricane forces and obstacles along the line, because heroes most times emerge out of difficult and unfortunate situations.

vi. Forgiveness

One of the things I learnt from Gandhi is the act of forgiveness. He knows how to forgive and let go. He doesn’t believe in fighting evil with evil. He witnessed so many setbacks, so many forces openly worked against his plans, but he never despaired or retaliated, instead he was able to forgive and let go. I have also learnt from him that if you didn’t forgive those who wrong you, then you are giving others room to control your happiness- to control how you feel.

Forgiveness enables you to release yourself from the shackles of bondage, and challenges you to focus on more important things. It is not everyone that can forgive. To truly forgive, one must develop mental capacity to let go. No matter the situation, one should strive to solve the problems in a peaceful manner without any feeling of acrimony or animosity. I have seen the reason why he said in one of his books that ‘the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” this means that forgiveness is meant for the strong-willed.

vii. Nonviolent resistance

Gandhi was a man who didn’t take issues to heart. He had a large heart, and accommodating spirit. He was able to react with intelligence and equanimity in critical situations. He understood the importance of pursuing worthy goals; he took time to pursue his goals, and devoted time to nonviolent protest of British rule. To actualize his goals, he knows that heads will roll and bloods will spill here and there, but he chose to adopt upright, honest and nonviolent means. Though he wasn’t a perfect man, he had his flaws, but he was able to react to issues in a normal and intelligent way.

His struggles didn’t just experience instant success. The British government didn’t find it easy with him after launching his nonviolent movement, but both took a diplomatic approach, within this time, he wasn’t preaching war, instead he was granting press releases, and delivering speeches talking about peaceful protest and nonviolent approach.

He actually had followers because of this part he chose, and tactfully convinced them never to engage in violent means. He persevered in his convictions, and beliefs, and never rested until his dreams for India was actualized. That was really a great move.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

His successful struggle for civil rights and Indian independence ended the age-long reign of British colonialism. He showed that one man can really have the capacity to create a huge difference in the life of a people. Despite the challenges he faced, he exuded exemplary character, principles and remained resolute to his plans. He had high moral values, simple and productive lifestyle. I am expected to be an embodiment of these characters. He saw freedom fighting as a way of rendering service to people, not a way of enriching oneself as most freedom fighters do around the world especially in third world countries.

In my personal and public life, I am motivated to hold tenaciously to the search for truth. In my studies of truth in Philosophy, I learnt so many theories of truth; correspondence, coherence, pragmatic, relative theories to mention but a few. Epistemologically speaking, one thing stands tall, it is the fact that truth is one, unchanging, and eternal. The pursuit of truth is the pursuit of meaningful existence. It should be the primordial thing in life.

Mahatma Gandhi (the great soul), and father of India focused on the struggles for civil disobedience and nonviolence through his principles of Satyagraha (which literally means, holding firmly to truth). According to him, truth is the ultimate source of energy.

At the completion of his studies in England, he went to South Africa, and metamorphosed from a common lawyer to a successful thinker, revolutionary, a man full of ideas- and followed his ideas to the extreme. He was overwhelmed and overtaken by his thoughts, and applied it in any situation. He loved to wear a simple dhoti (a simple Indian clothing), and lived mainly on vegetables, and was still happy. He didn’t pay much attention to foods and drink. He preached and practiced how to live without material acquisitions. I was deeply motivated at these viewpoints.

Furthermore, the seven ideas I mentioned above will help me to be a better person, to emulate his lifestyle so as to be a gift to the world. I want to be a gift to my community and the world. I am committed to make a difference. If am given any opportunity to serve in public life, I would like to change anything that is not tandem with worthy living. I would like to make impact; I would like to inspire millions of lives not through war, but through peaceful means and nonviolent resistance. Gandhi’s thoughts will help me both in my studies and teachings on leadership, conflict resolution and diplomacy.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“What barrier is there that love cannot break?”

Love is so powerful that it has the capacity to break all barriers. The Holy Scripture taught us that love is self-giving, friendly, not jealous, and forgiving. A popular Latin Maxim says that ‘Love conquers all things’ (Omnia Vincit Amat). I am motivated to practice love, to love people unconditionally and pray for those who hate me, to do good even to those that won’t return any good to me. Mother Teresa of Calcutta says that the measure of love is to love without measure.

“Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall.”

The world has produced many freedom fighters who were tyrants and murderers, but this man never believed in getting freedom through violent means. Probably his search and love for God taught him that those who use ammunitions of physical war often times go by the sword. He opted to follow a different approach, though this approach is not the easy way. It requires resilience, patience and courage. The good news is that he did not fall just like most tyrants and murderers, because he was never a tyrant or a murderer.

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even If I didn’t have it in the beginning.”

Unless people recognize what is individually possible for them, unless people develop the ‘I can do’ spirit, they will never achieve their possibilities. Mahatma Gandhi had a project; he was very much consumed to the project. He believed he can, and followed nonviolent model which helped him to achieve resounding success at the end of the day.

“Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

Gandhi hold this view about Seven Deadly Sins:

Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity
Knowledge without character; Politics without principle; Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.

Though he didn’t really talked about these seven social sins in his autobiography, but this particular quote above, to me seems to be the foundation for the seven deadly sins. He ventured into the world of politics and religion, looked at them, weighed them on a screen of truth and concluded that both are closely related. That was why he maintained that those who say that religion has no link with politics are actually ignorant of the meaning of both. Both can’t exist successfully without each other.

No wonder many religious leaders are highly political. Some use religion to cover their political activities. In Nigeria, I have seen and read about a great number of top politicians who are hiding under the cloak of religion. In as much as I have nothing against it, but I refused to be consoled when people say religion is different from politics.

Many religious leaders even lobby and do all sorts of things just to win the favor of their superiors or to get some juicy posts. Many religious leaders are gradually delving into politics because they see it as the easiest way to get rich quick. Many are even living like kings, driving all kinds of expensive cars and fleet of private jets while over 50% of their members are living below the poverty line. The most annoying part is that most of these poor ones will go miles in donating their hard earned funds and even borrow money to fund the excesses of these gullible preachers. I am sure most of these preachers are not real Christians, because Jesus Christ was completely selfless, and he came to serve not to be served. I guess these preachers must have given most of their members enough spiritual opium or as Karl Marx rightly said “religion is the opium of the masses.” Gandhi was another example of a person who dedicated his life to service of his people.

“Service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it is done for show or for fear of public opinion, it stunts the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served.”

The Roman Pontiff is usually regarded as the “servus servorum Dei” (meaning, the servant of the servants of God). Mahatma Gandhi sees leadership as a call to service; self-emptiness, self-outpouring, a life broken for the welfare of others. Any leader whether political, religious or social that is not serving is actually wasting his or her time.

Also, service should be rendered with joyful hearts. Our author is saying that any service that is not rendered with joy benefit neither the servant nor the served.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Mahatma Gandhi was an honest and a fearless man. His work in India and South Africa were legendary. But I was uncomfortable with him for four reasons: First, he had lofty dreams for his country people, but he took some of his principles to the extreme, but I forgive him because his ideologies were based on principles of nonviolence. He held obsessive views on diets, sexuality and bodily hygiene (every rational thinker should question these views). I will not go further on this due to want of time and space.

Second, Gandhi did not take anything to be true until he has experimented with it (this is my own disagreement with him). He wants his readers to do their own experiments before believing some views- that is still good, but one don’t have to take it to the extreme as he did. Both his religious views and political activities were all stemmed from his experiments with truth.

Third, Gandhi referred to himself as a celibate. This is another fallacy. Two things are involved here, it is either he doesn’t understand the true meaning of celibacy or he is indirectly mocking celibacy as a way of life. Celibacy means remaining unmarried for a divine purpose. It also means abstaining from sex for a religious purpose or as a result of religious vow. But Gandhi was married with kids. Perfect examples of celibates are catholic priests and nuns, not Gandhi, because he was far from being a celibate.

Fourth, Mahatma Gandhi spent greater part of his life smoking- that is another height of irresponsibility. As a public figure, there are certain actions you don’t do in public, even if you are not doing something the society distaste. I was unhappy reading about him engaging in excessive smoking. One may argue that smoking had absolutely nothing to do with his struggles, and achievements or he was smoking due to health conditions or for the fun of it. But I still have my reasons because I know many people didn’t find it funny with him smoking all the time. However, I still admire the fact that he didn’t see himself as a perfect man; he knew he had weaknesses and personal flaws, and he acknowledged it in most of his writings. This was really great.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No; there were no exercises for the reader to complete. Though I looked forward for it.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I think I have been able to air my views to the best of my ability. Gandhi has been able to share his unedited thoughts about racism, colonialism and nonviolence philosophy more than any freedom fighter I know. He was seen talking of what he meant. While reading this, the reader will be intensely inspired by the author’s moral passion, dedication to help the suffering race, his intense and overwhelming honesty and humility.

I regard him as a prolific writer, not a great writer, because most times he seems to have incoherent arguments and fallacious assumptions. He is a great person simply because of what he did, not really because of what he wrote. I have always admired this man right from the time I came across some of his quotes few years back, but this autobiography actually brought me closer to the personality of Gandhi.

The book was written in simple and concise English language. He gave few details about his early life, something which most autobiographical documents omit. The book is a must read for those interested in the father of India. It talked about the position of India during colonial rule, his life in England, and South Africa, and of course his amazing nonviolent philosophy.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 8
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



How to Make Collaboration Work: Powerful Ways to Build Consensus, Solve problems and Make Decisions

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

In this exciting literary masterpiece, David Straus introduces five powerful principles in collaboration that have been successful for ages. He draws from the wealth of his thirty years of personal and professional research, experience and romance with collaboration with people from all walks of life.

He has applied these proven principles to a wide range of multi-national organizations such as U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Ford Motor Company, Boston Public Schools, Harvard Business School Publishing, the City of Denver, Kaiser Permanents and a host of others. In this book, the author captures succinctly the importance of collaboration in every level of organization whether in the corporation, non-profit organization, small business, educational institution, legislative body or government agency. According to his view, collaboration takes place not only within these organizations, but also between and among them.

Collaborative action is required when a top manager wants to figure out the best way to cut down the expenses. When an organizations wants to set their goals, objectives, mission and vision or wants to develop a strategic plan. Or when they want to design a new advertising campaign. When the administrative workers wants to take some important decisions or chart out a new curriculum. Or when they want to form a coalition that will enable them to lobby for a particular issue, coordinate their social services, update its policy or decides to venture into a new product. All these activities require a collaborative action. For this to be achieved successfully, people are expected to work together. This working together involves planning, solving problems, and or making decisions before taking action. To me, this is a pocket book of wisdom for success; providing well-organized, clear and specific guidance to building collaborations in organizations, groups, families and in different situations.

His capacity to translate profound and complex ideas into proven principles encourages the reader to work together with like-minds effectively. No wonder, he has served in many top leadership positions both as the president, CEO, and board chairman. He is an expert in facilitation, training and consulting. By reading this incisive work, he has groomed me into the field of consulting, and facilitative leadership among other things.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. The meaning of collaboration

The defined collaboration as the process people employ when working together in a group, community, or organization to plan, create, solve problems and make decisions. I marveled at the way he uses these terms synonymously collaboration, collaborative action, and collaborative problem solving. In fact, when he talked about collaboration, he is in effect talking about cooperation, working with the right people to achieve a positive outcome, not collaborating or dialoguing with the enemy.

Problem solving becomes a situation changing; planning, decision making and all kinds of creative activities like exploring new frontiers, engaging in appreciative inquiry, learning, visioning, communicating and designing. This can be applied to any kind of situation, subject matter or opportunity.

Thus, this lead to the discussion of the five principles. According to David Straus, these five principles are actionable paradigm, a way of looking at the world filled with hopes. These principles had been applied in over 500 organizations and communities around the world, and the result had been amazing. Each principle addresses the specific questions and challenges one is likely going to confront when designing and or managing a process of collaboration.

ii. Involve the relevant stakeholders

He discovered that one of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to work collaboratively is to neglect or exclude an interest group or key individual. Yes, when key people weren’t consulted or felt they were neglected, they seem to remain aloof to your vision. To a great extent, this affects the productivity of collaborative work. Because, David Straus is encouraging the reader to indentify and work with the stakeholders. The long-term advantage is priceless. This idea has proved to me that no man is an island; no one has a monopoly of wisdom, and collaborative action helps an organization to move forward.

The term “involve the relevant stakeholders” is a very simple idea, yet too powerful. This creates the foundation for all other principles of collaboration. To ensure that the process is effective and active, it must be open and inclusive- the stakeholders can be involved through any of the powerful technologies- electronic system meetings like teleconferencing, videoconferencing, web support and project rooms like computer conferencing, E-mail polling etc.

iii. Build consensus phase by phase

When everyone agrees to support a decision, then consensus has been reached. And agreement doesn’t just happen; it has to be built, phase by phase. All the members of a group should involve themselves with deliberation on vital issues, and after that they will reach a consensus.

iv. Design a process map

If there is too much uncertainty, people will definitely become anxious. Before they even agree to collaborate most times, they will like you to tell them what they stand to gain by engaging in the collaborative process. So, you should design and manage an open-ended process of collaboration.

v. Designate a process facilitator

He is saying that as a leader, it will be difficult for you to be neutral about how a meeting is run. Thus, it is necessary you separate process leadership from content leadership and create a new role, that of facilitator. He went ahead to define a facilitator as a neutral process guide, and a servant of the group.

vi. Harness the power of group memory

The group memory or record, that is created in front of the group is one of the most simple, easiest and powerful tools of collaboration. He described lack of focus, wheel-spinning, data overload, and repetition as symptoms of bad meetings.

vii. Facilitative leadership

This is the summit of Part 111. Here, he offered some wonderful thoughts on how we can put collaboration into a formidable action. Collaborative action must be enabled, promoted and supported by leaders. This type of leadership is beyond the old, archaic command and control-model. To build a collaborative culture in your community or organization, you must model the mind-set and values of collaborative action. He proved this point by drawing so many examples from his private and personal life.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

Each of the ideas was very unique and addresses a specific problem people face when they want to work collaboratively. In fact, the five principles were highly effectively; they can be applied to related problem-solving scenario. In this book, the author is saying that collaboration is a wonderful thing; something to fall back to any day, any time rather than a chore. So, in my daily private and professional life, I will try my best to apply them. I am working hard to create a better world both in my private and public associations.

In some leadership positions, I have held, I have tried to build effective teams and manage conflicts effectively- this has helped me to facilitate collaboration. I discovered that this lively book is a must-read for top managers, accountants, business developers, life coach, business consultants, lawyers and many others in the related field.

I was edified to hear that the author has practiced these principles successfully, and that they have helped him to work with over 1000 organizational clients, including nonprofit organizations, government agencies, 175 of the Fortune 500 corporations etc. In these companies, he engaged himself in group process facilitation, organizational development, consulting, training and so on.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The fact is, however, there is nothing inherently unpleasant about collaboration. Working together to solve a problem, envision a future or make a decision can actually be an enjoyable and even energizing experience. Certain problems may not be solved permanently or effectively if we refuse to work together with a team.”

The author confirmed that he didn’t believe this statement lightly, because he applied it to his thirty years of trial and error experience while engaging in a collaborative problem solving issues with different multi-national establishments. At the end of the day, his team proved timelessly that collaborative action can be an unforgettable experience.

“Harnessing the power of collaborative action requires a different model of leadership than the classic command-and–control model, in which the leader solves problems, makes decisions and issue orders unilaterally. Indeed the old model is antithetical to building a collaborative culture.”

In this case, he was simply advocating for facilitative leadership; get out of the way, and allow someone to facilitate meetings, build a more collaborative culture by engaging relevant stakeholders in solving problems.

“Collaboration needn’t be used on every minor decision and problem, and it’s not a way for you to avoid your duties as a manager and decision maker. As a facilitative leader, you retain all your decision-making responsibilities. There are many levels of involvement between making a decision unilaterally and delegating it to an individual or group below you. In essence, he is saying that there are some decisions you will have to take as a leader without consulting anyone. You don’t consult on every minor issue. There are some issues one will be required to use his or her common sense. There are many facts embedded in this quote, but let me stop here due to want of time and space.”

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

In the preface of the book, the author contradicted himself by saying that he didn’t spend much time trying to convince readers the need for collaboration. This was untrue, because he spent time composing beautiful songs of collaboration and how collaboration can work in our organization or community. The five tested powerful principles and other practical examples are pointers to this fact.

The contradiction became clearer in page 6 where he said: “I hope to inspire and empower you to collaborate successfully with others in your personal and professional lives.” Toward this end, I have organized the book into three parts. Part I deals with the important meta-idea of human problem solving…if you are confronted by an immediate collaboration-related problem, you may want to jump to the most relevant chapter in Part II. Part III deals with five principles of collaborative problem solving. Each principle speaks to both our hearts and minds. Each principle can be applied to any scale of collaborative problem solving, from interpersonal and small-group processes to organization and community-wide processes.

I have read quite a number of books on collaboration, teambuilding and management. But this book was so educative, revealing, and highly informative. It offered some of the challenges one is likely going to face when they choose to initiate a collaborative process.

The ideas spoke eloquently to our hearts and minds. It provides relevant tips that will enable us to solve problems, work together and make great decisions, as well as make constructive criticisms, and even tackle systemic, complex issues we face on daily basis.

My take here is that for the mere fact of mentioning the word collaboration several times in between the lines, he is already convincing the reader to adopt it as a way of life and as a necessary ingredient in business diplomacy. Saying that he didn’t spend time talking about it is indeed fallacious and totally unacceptable by me.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No; though I expected to see some exercises for the reader.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No; I think the questions here covered the vital points in the book. The author draws from his wealth of experience in the art of group problem solving. His theories especially the five principles of collaboration had been applied to myriads of multi-national organizations and had been proved to be truly successful for ages. The book has taught me to apply collaboration both in my personal and professional life.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Getting to Resolution: Turning Conflict into Collaboration

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Getting to Resolution is a product of 35 years of research and experience as a lawyer, consultant, manager, trainer and mediator. In this exciting literary piece, he combines a dynamic blend of peace, creativity and powerful insight. The book offers useful guides on resolving conflict; a fundamentally new approach of handling situations full of conflict. Levine provides rules and regulations that can be applied to any conflict-personal, professional, organizational and end without any conflict. In fact, it will end up with the two parties working harmoniously to make the world a better place. He spent more than 10 years of his life settling disputes in court, and spent about 19 years teaching business executives, equipping them with more collaborative way to resolve conflict and promote peace.

In his view, conflict is unavoidable, but we really need to deal with it in a more productive way. Getting to Resolution outlines a step-by-step guide for turning conflict into collaboration. The first step to resolve conflict is to be transparent in our actions and be truthful. This involves putting ourselves in the process. We should stop seeing conflict as a win/lose proposition. Consistently arguing who is right or wrong will never lead us anywhere. Those who are committed or who are preaching war should be disarmed diplomatically. We should focus on what all of us will benefit if there is a peaceful resolution. Conflict arises when we are or one party is bent on withholding conflict, while sharing information and listening to one another is a step in the right direction. To move with a resolution, the peacemaker or negotiator must be up-to-date with the current state of things.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

Ideological conflicts in the twenty-first century come as a result of combination of differences. This book offers the blueprint on how to act rightly. The author proffers solution on how to handle the urgent and pressing challenges we face daily like social security, economic crisis, and political instability in most countries of the world, terrorism, financial disparity, race relations and climate change.

Resolution provides completeness and relief. Some modern day dictionaries and encyclopedias define resolution as:

The act of unraveling a perplexing question or problem

Solution, and

Removal or disappearance, as in the disappearance of a tumor.

Conflict has an emotional scar that remains many years even when the battle is won. Win or lose, the scar may remain all through your existential sojourn. This is why some people spend their lives thinking about what they have lost such as the promotion they lost, the business they lost, marriage they lost, the project they lost etc- Levine says that all these things keeps them locked in the grip of their own anger.

One of the wisest sayings I have come across is that you will never know the true meaning of happiness, unless you have experienced sorrow. If this is true and acceptable, it then implies that conflict makes our lives beautiful, even though it is one of the misunderstood concepts of human existence.

According to Stewart Levine, conflict is the act of creativity, learning, engagement and opportunity for creative value. He gave us a detailed analysis on how we can turn conflicts into collaboration. In clear terms, he explains the wonderful roles conflict can play in our existential lives. He further defines conflict as a process of discovery and creation. True resolution has been reached when both parties are happy, and are willing to re-negotiate. This brings us to the above question.

i. Your attitude of resolution

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘if we keep following the idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will end up with an eyeless and toothless world’. I have learnt that developing the attitude of resolution is the first and most effective step towards resolving conflict. This attitude can be developed by knowing there is an agreement waiting to be discovered, and by sharing concerns and listening. Attitude of resolution is different from thinking about winning or losing.

To develop this habit successfully, Levine details some skills to use and some obstacles to avoid. He equally encouraged us to develop the attitude of curiosity and discovery.

I believe the author is talking to me directly. He says that the following behaviors would be useful while resolving conflicts:

Respect for everyone and his or her viewpoint

Sincerity and open-mindedness in listening

Integrity-trustworthiness and fairness

Dignity and clarity that you will do well for everyone

Authenticity and candor in communication

Knowing you have a path to an answer, not the answer

Confidence that the resolution will be discovered

Centeredness when others lose their cool, and

Humor and tranquility.

ii. Stories: Telling and Listening

As a negotiator or resolution expert, I should give each participant or party the opportunity to tell their story from beginning to end, without any interruption. Furthermore, he says that ‘ when we interrupt those who have a story to tell by asking questions we think are critical, we are effectively cutting off their catharsis and depriving ourselves of deeply knowing what they are thinking… getting everyone’s story out on the table defines the problem space, validates everyone’s position, and reveals everyone’s interests…listen as if you were listening to a lover you do not want to lose who is threatening to leave…remember that when someone tells their story, a change occurs for both the listener and the storyteller.

Winning is not everything or the only thing. The importance of listening can never be overemphasized. Some of us don’t listen; some are waiting impatiently to speak or contribute their ideas to the issues at stake. I have learned how to be a good listener.

When I listen to both parties very well, I will know their grievances and then marshal out good points to help them overcome the situation or turn the conflict into collaboration.

iii. Listening for a vision of resolution

“Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible.” (By: Frank L. Gaines). As a peacemaker or a negotiator in difficult cases, I have learnt how to weigh issues on a screen of truth or via different lens. Listening to all the parties involved in the conflict will pave way for a veritable solution. When a conflict is filled with emotion, I must get to the heart of the issue, the real source of the problem; otherwise the conflict may not be resolved amicably. Trust and faith are very essential; trust is the ability to listen to my deepest instincts, listening to all the stories, while faith is the capacity to keep following my intuition.

In my work as a mediator, journalist and consultant, I have taken time to listen and understand everyone’s concerns, and not to jump into solution or conclusion quickly. I have learnt how to walk in everyone’s shoes, before proposing solution.

iv. Getting Current and Complete

“He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” (By: Lord Herbert) The purpose of this section was to instill the spirit of forgiveness in me so that I can move forward in the future. In going through a conflicting situation, apology remains one of the most important actions one can make. Having gone through this piece, I have learnt how to let go of past hurts, and look in joyful hope for the amazing future.

v. Reaching Agreement in Principle

I am challenged to develop an agreement in principle, a broad-brush comprehension of the resolution, bearing in mind that “nothing is agreed until it is all agreed.” I have also learnt that sometimes, people need to go beyond their fear and insecurity. Surely, there will be difficult people- they come in different shapes and sizes.

I should stay away from the forms and hostility in which they manifest such as negativism, arrogance, indecisiveness and silence. Common sense is very uncommon; so whenever I am not convinced about anything or when things seem not to be working effectively, I should consult. Finally, in handling situations, I should introduce what would be irresistible by asking, “what is your view about this or what do you think about this?”

vi. Crafting the new agreement

“Covenantal relationships induce freedom no paralysis. A covenantal relationship rests on shared commitment to ideas, to issues, to values, to goals…words such as love, warmth, personal chemistry are certainly pertinent. Covenantal relationships are open to influence.” (By Max Depree, Leadership is an Art).

I was deeply impressed when I was reading his power of agreement, the laws and principles of agreement: why agreements are important, the law of agreement, the principles of agreement, mastering the art of agreement, the ten essential elements of agreements, three phases of agreement, and agreements in lieu of conflict.

While reading this section, I was particularly grateful to the author, because I felt he was talking to my being, whole and entire.

When we talk of agreements, we are invariably talking of long legal documents and learning how to resolve difficult negotiations. Our author, Stewart Levine defines agreement as:

A joint vision,

The product of an effective conflict resolution process, and

The foundation for a successful new team, partnership, or relationship.

These definitions are factual and can be applied for both personal and business affairs.

In the law of agreement, he maintains that the tighter the collaboration, the better the results. The most effective way of preventing conflict and to have more productive and satisfying results would be to start every collaboration with an agreement. The ten essential elements include intent & vision, roles, promises, time & value, measurement of satisfaction, concerns & fears, renegotiation, consequences, conflict resolution and finally agreement- by using these elements of agreement, we will achieve the phenomenon of agreement, a relationship based on trust and covenant.

vii. Resolution

In a simple term, he defined resolution as an outcome; it is the condition of everyone after a dispute, conflict, breakdown or disagreement is put to rest. It makes the beneficiaries to be coordinated and productive. A true resolution must honor everyone’s concerns, commit to ongoing relationships, and go beyond everyone’s emotional problems. Resolution gives life, and entails being willing to learn, have the courage to change, and the compassion to forgive. Masterful resolutions require that at the end of the resolution, everyone involved in the dispute would say they have won.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas raised in this book were so great. It is absolutely impossible to read this book dedicatedly without expanding your knowledge of conflict resolution, and self-knowledge. It is a handbook for leaders and peace experts. The book is life-changing, mind-altering, and practical. I have learned the principles of achieving resolutions that would be acceptable to all the parties involved in a dispute. Stewart Levine used simple and creative processes.

He made me to understand the benefits of agreements, experience the satisfaction and relief we get in win-win relationships. It would add value to any person that really wants to have real wisdom and be useful to the civic society. The author challenges the reader to listen attentively to real stories about people, and events and never to make hasty conclusions and to develop the ability to communicate effectively with each other.

The pages were filled with practical real life examples, and advice on how to do it; how to make collaboration work. It contains all the models that would help us to nurture strong relationships. Stewart Levine provides philosophical tools that would enable me to create a better world. He took time to examine the cost of conflicts, both physical and intangible.

All his analysis makes a considerable amount of sense- they can be perfectly applied to everyday conflict situations. He emphasized that these attributes should be strictly adhered to whether in workplace or home. The first is that while seeking a resolution, one must be in the right mindset. You must tell your stories without any prejudice, and also listen to the other side of the story, then consider points of resolution.

Stewart Levine must be applauded for his work. It is simple, efficient, and straight to the point. Reading this book had a transformative and more gratifying effect on my life. His approach to conflict situations goes beyond compromise and capitulation.

He gave strong incentives that would help one to stop anger and resentment and enable both sides to return to satisfying, functional and productive relationships. Levine’s conversational solutions foster integrity and dignity, optimizes resources, and allow all concerned to be honored, voiced, and woven into the resolution. The book is simply recommended for all Business and public libraries.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The person you choose as a guide is critical to the kind of resolution you will get.”

The author is saying that when you are faced with a critical situation, you should choose a conflict resolution professional. These are the people he calls resolutionaries. While trying to extol the beauty of resolutionaries, he said: “they are professionals who know that their brand of resolution creates lifetime clients. They know how to honor and respect what is presented, and how to find a vessel that holds everyone’s concerns.” By all standards, these people are creative and highly responsible. They use everything within their power to get the job done, they do whatever it takes.

“Resolution is the healing of conflict” for me, this is the simplest definition of resolution. For a resolution to be effective, it is necessary to look for someone who could help to resolve a conflict- someone who will talk about the human aspects of the situation. Perfect resolution needs virtual collaboration, trust building, and new tools of communication, and it aims at making the life of both parties much richer.

“Conflict is expensive in many ways.”

If people know how expensive conflict is, they will never be engaging in it.This book is inspirational and content-rich; it will surely increase productivity, creativity, enhance coordination and communication among intra-company and inter-company teams. This book will be useful for many groups, like human resource & training personnel, employees, executives, managers, etc. Meeting a conflict resolution professional would save time, money, and relationships from crashing.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

One of the reviewers of the book, Marshall Goldsmith made a controversial and unpardonable outing, he said: “Of immense value for executives, managers, business owners and employees! The book puts it simply-conflict is costly! Save time, save money, save relationships with this new paradigm.”

While I agree that the book is of great immense value to executives, managers, business owners and employees. I do not agree with the author and Marshall for maintaining that conflict is costly, and save time, save money, and save relationships. In its purest sense, conflict is costly; may create dangerous situations and options, but it does not and can never save time, save money, and save relationships, instead conflict resolution does. If he was trying to use conflict and conflict resolution interchangeably, then he is at fault still because both do not mean the same thing. I think this is the main reservation I have about the book. Overall, it is a great material. I am happy I was able to read this book cover to cover a number of times.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Getting to Resolution did not contain exercises so to speak, but there are summary and Reflections at the end of every chapter. The summary section details everything in the book, while the reflection section presents some foods for thoughts or topics the reader should meditate on. I took time to go through the reflections, which usually comes as questions and they were really amazing and life-transforming.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Yes! I think there should be a question on who this book was actually written for. This book is written for everybody- it proffered great solutions and advice for attorneys, leaders, life coaches, conflict resolution experts and business persons.

Secondly, there should a question that asks whether the author resolved any issue. To this question also, the answer is capital Yes!

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolutionis a classical work on conflict resolution and crisis management. It has amazingly helped millions of people overtime. No matter the nature of the dispute and how long it has lasted, differences in opinions and the tough people involved, this book promises to give an enduring resolution.

Certainly the author, Dudley Weeks is well-grounded in conflict resolution and this book is a perfect reflection of his thoughts and convictions. The eight steps can be profitably applied to individual conflicts, and contractual disputes between labor unions vs. governments, companies Vs. Management strife. Conflict is unavoidable in our daily human activities, that was why the author presented eight skills that would help us to resolve conflicts and improve relationships.

Apart from the fact this book has sold more than 50,000 copies, Dudley Weeks has worked with conflict parties in more than sixty countries of the world; he has counseled families, communities, and businesses. Some conflicts are minor nuisances, while some are so severe that they do irreparable damage to our personalities, prestige, families, workplaces and communities. The author suggests that regardless of our age, social status, cultural backgrounds, beliefs and professions- we should master the skills that will help us to deal with these conflicts effectively. It is interesting to know that Dudley Weeks’ childhood background paved way for this academic work. He grew up in a conflict-prone environment filled with sexism, racism, ageism, and lots of community and business conflicts. He was unimpressed how people can allow their minor differences in desires, family, cultural background, social and economic status to escalate to damaging conflicts. All these were used to build walls between people.

Upon inquiry and serious research, he discovered that traditional approaches to dealing with conflict such as arbitration, negotiation and mediation lacked in several important areas. Thus, in his discussion with many practitioners, and in his work as a community organizer, peacemaker, educator, and development worker around the world, he found out that people are indeed looking for better ways of dealing with conflicts.

Conflict resolution takes hard work and determination. Some parties who are involved in a conflict may see it as a negative experience. Some don’t like to talk about it, because doing so would imply something has gone wrong in their relationships, while others don’t like getting involved in conflict because they feel someone would lose power or get hurt.

Some others perceive dealing with conflict as a hopeless situation, because both parties might be aimlessly fighting for their rights or for what they want, thereby not employing the skills that really work. In this book, the author has provided answers to these and many other questions. He defines conflict as a prolonged battle or collision, a controversy, a disagreement. This book tells us how to resolve conflicts in a way that is both effective and sustainable.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. Create an effective atmosphere

It is extremely important to create an atmosphere where the conflict resolution process takes place. A good atmosphere will enable us to agree, and build an improved relationship. Our author says that just like trees will find it difficult to grow in an atmosphere that is devoid of needed nutrients. Effective conflict resolution will never take place in an atmosphere that obstructs positive interaction. He also advised us to choose a time that does not give an advantage to one party over the other, but maximizes the positive skills of all parties.

A true partnership atmosphere does not mean one thing, instead personal preparation, timing, place and openings all contribute to the perfect resolution of a conflict. Although, this may be critical at the beginning, but if we keep on maintaining, demonstrating, and creating an atmosphere in our attitudes, words, and actions- the other party will begin to see the impact we are trying to create. In all my dealings, I have learnt the importance of creating an enabling environment for conflict resolution to take place.

ii. Clarify perceptions

Perceptions are simply the lenses through which we see our relationships, others, ourselves plus the problems we encounter in our everyday activities.

When we are dealing with conflicts, we will need to clarify certain questions, which include:

What is the cause of the conflict?

Is the conflict over values or just preferences?

Is the conflict really over needs or desires?

Is the conflict over goals or methods?

What are the components of the conflict? Which do I feel most strongly about? Which parts should be dealt with first? And which can be addressed more effectively if we consider them after dealing with other parts first?

All these questions are necessary and should not be neglected when we are trying to clarify several critical skills.

As a conflict resolution expert, I need to sort the components of a conflict. There are some components that should be dealt with immediate effect, because according to our author, “some components must be dealt with immediately; some may be simply one party’s wish list; some may be outside the power of the parties to do anything about; some may be based on wild misperceptions and hearsay. The possibilities are limitless.”

I have also learned how to recognize and avoid ghost conflicts. Ghost conflicts are simply minor issues that I allow to elevate in my mind to the extent that it turns out to be serious conflicts.

The hardest conflict to deal with is the one that concerns ‘values’. When values are involved, some essential steps can be taken:

Clarify how important the value is to you and how important it is to the worth of the relationship

Clarify how important the value in conflict is to your partner

Understand that there are at least three options in dealing with value conflicts, namely:

The parties do battle until one of them gives in and changes positions on the value in conflict

The parties agree to disagree on that value, and because that value is so critical, one or both parties end the relationship, and

The parties agree to disagree on that value but find other parts of the relationship important enough to continue the relationship.

Three notable communication skills that operate all through the process of conflict resolution or clarifying perceptions of the other party are- listening, sensing and asking clarifying questions.

Thus, I have learned how to develop effective listening especially in situations where emotions and pressure runs high.

I should learn how to understand the conflict partner- he / she may be fidgeting, grimacing, showing shock or pain, staring into space, or even communicating nonverbally to what am saying. To understand him or her clearly, I need to sense those communications. Finally, I have mastered the art of asking necessary questions when dealing with a conflict. In fact, the more I ask questions, the more the partner knows that I am deeply interested in what they are saying. Asking questions will surely help the conflict resolution process in an amazing ways. One way of showing empathy is to ask the conflict partners to tell their stories, to share some of their background and why they are seeking certain outcomes of the conflict resolution process.

iii. Focus on individual and shared needs

This is another important aspect in the conflict resolution process, unless the needs of the people involved in the conflict and the needs of the conflict itself are dealt with professionally, peace will unattainable. Our author encourage us to deal with personal needs, the needs of the relationship, shared needs, and partner needs. He identified them as four sets of needs. It is only when the energy of conflict resolution focuses on them will the conflict resolution process be effective and the relationship improved.

iv. Build shared positive needs

The author recognized that every relationship involves power, and power in its purest sense or looking at it logically does not corrupt, instead people choose how they use power and whether they allow it to corrupt. I have learned that conflict partnership is an active, creative, persevering process. He gave us a different definition of power, “power consists of the attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors that give people and groups the ability to act or perform effectively.” He gave a classical difference between negative and positive power. I love his analysis and they were very helpful. He says that shared positive power is the energy that makes a relationship effective and conflict resolution successful and lasting.

v. Look to the future, then learn from the past

Our author acknowledged that every conflict has a past, present and future, and resolving conflicts effectively requires we deal with all the three. He demonstrated this idea with some examples and case studies. He encouraged us to be mindful that the future will reap whatever we have sown in the present. The present and future are inseparable, they are all linked. Blending the three into a formidable harmony is the essence of being. His analysis is a delight, thorough and straight to the point.

vi. Generate options

To resolve conflicts amicably, the author suggest that people should use their shared positive power, instead of the perceived individual power each has. Each party should prepare themselves very well before ever entering into dialogue with a conflict partner.

Generating options when we are dealing with a conflict involve several tasks such as:

Trace the conflict back to a time before it reached its current level of difficulty and ask yourself what options you may have left unexplored as the conflict increased step by step.

Spend some time envisioning new possibilities…in doing so, you will be less likely to let yourself stubbornly hold onto narrow choices.

You and your partner will have the opportunity to weed out any options that may prove inappropriate.

Remind yourself that the options you are indentifying are but possible starting points for the process of generating options you and your partner will do together. Conflict partnership entails that the parties involved work together to build a process of conflict resolution and relationship improvement.

Look more deeply to see if there might be some commonalities hidden within seemingly incompatible options.

If no commonalities appear within the seemingly incompatible options, clarify where the disagreements are and then set aside those options and work together to generate other options around other parts of the relationship or conflict.

Try not to lead with those preconceived answers you suspect might be unacceptable to the other party.

Generating new options can empower all parties to break mental logjams, realize areas of shared goals and needs, discover unseen possibilities and move closer to taking those steps that can resolve particular conflicts and improve the relationship.

vii. Develop the “doables” the stepping-stones to action

Throughout this section, the author emphasized that conflict partnership skills can contribute significantly to dealing effectively with conflicts and building stronger long-term relationships. The stepping stone towards resolving conflicts is what he called “the doables.” He defines a “doable” as an action that stands a good chance of being accomplished. It does not favor one party at the expense of other parties. “It helps build trust, momentum, and confidence in working together.” Doables are built on individual and shared needs, and can help conflict partners deal with major issues effectively. Keep in mind that a conflict is not completely resolved, just because a temporary agreement is reached.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I enjoyed reading the seven ideas discussed above; they taught me how to create a better world with peace and conflict resolution. I am happy that these ideas were well packaged and promptly delivered. Though some concepts seemed a bit difficult to understand because I haven’t seen them in concrete life situations. The good news is that I have applied these ideas and they are working successfully.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“The other party might be defining conflict resolution as an I-versus-you struggle for victory. Try extra hard to (1) set a partnership atmosphere, (2) state clearly that you have a view of conflict resolution as a process in which you need each other, (3) focus on shared needs and shared power, and (4) generate specific options and doables that will clearly improve the relationship for both of you.”

This is a very powerful statement as far as am concerned. Here, our author was talking about how we can deal with people who only want things their way. We need to tell them that there are more constructive and better ways of dealing with conflicts.

“Look at the atmosphere you are promoting. Before automatically assuming that the other party does not want to resolve the conflict, try to make sure that you are not contributing to an atmosphere that discourages the other party’s participation.”

Here, the author is advising us to abhor making unrealistic demands or taking some ineffective approach, these can make the other party to be reluctant towards resolving the conflict.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

No! The first time I read the book; I picked an offence with the author on his description of some concepts especially his analysis of three sets of power operating in all relationships and conflicts such as: self-power, the partner’s power, and shared power. But I got a different meaning, the second and third time I read it. Overall, I discovered he was actually right. People have self-power says the author when they develop and use effective skills.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No; I didn’t see any exercise for the reader to complete.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.


Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 8
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Built to Last

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Most times, out of frustration, creative minds emerge. This book is an exceptional piece for business people; it is talking about building something that is worthy of lasting- building a company of such intrinsic excellence that the world would lose something important if that organization ceases to exist. I can imagine many companies that have collapsed overtime, especially those who were nearly successful, and how the world felt about the monumental loss. For instance, I remember how the world felt at the death of Steve Jobs. A visionary company is not just the one that creates money, but also one that makes lasting contribution to humanity.

Further experience has shown that those who create a visionary company also make more money in the long run. The primary purpose of a visionary company is to help others or our clients, without hurting them in anyway.

This book offers a lot of timeless principles; it teaches us principles of building a truly great company- one that is truly worthy of lasting- a noble cause. The provocative analysis of the authors kept me on an active mood. I can’t wait to apply these principles to my organization.

Built to Last offer a blueprint for CEO’s, entrepreneurs, investors, managers, journalists, leaders of non-profits etc. The authors James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took six unprecedented years to investigate the success principles or secrets of 18 visionary companies (average lifespan of 90 years), and their findings were all written here.

Their discoveries open a new window on how we can create a long-lasting visionary corporation. Those seeking for guidelines on how to sustain their visionary establishments would find this book useful. Exceptionally visionary companies are led by people with truly rare and effective qualities.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Self-Improvement

While discussing self-improvement in the visionary and comparison companies, they analyzed the following four concepts:

Long-term investment- reinvesting earnings for long-term growth. As a business leader, I would work very hard to ensure that i invest part of my earnings so as to achieve more earnings.

Investment in human capabilities- this is the art of investing in employee recruiting, training and professional development even in downturns or difficult times.

Early adoption- my business should be able to adopt new working success principles like new technologies, processes or management.

Mechanisms to stimulate improvement- I should adopt principles that impel change and improvement.

ii. Evidence of Management Continuity

In analyzing management continuity, they considered the following dimensions:

Internal versus external chief executives- as a business advisor or consultant to a company, I should always instruct my clients that chief executives should come from inside the firm.

It must be someone who shares the authentic vision and mission of the organization. It must be rotational. Whoever is the chief executive will quit the stage after meritoriously serving his or her term. There should be no sentiment attached to this. However, due to some reasons, there might be one or two deviations from this rule.

No “post-heroic leader vacuum or savior syndrome”

When we talk about ‘post-heroic leader vacuum’ we mean a dearth of highly qualified successors after the departure of a strong CEO. While the “savior syndrome” is looking to the outside in times of trouble to find a “savior” who will come in and revive the company. There are many companies that have experienced and or still experiencing “post-heroic-leader vacuum.”

Management development mechanisms: At intervals, my company should experience internal management training programs, harnessing managerial skills and competences. This will ensure employee productivity.

Succession planning and CEO selection mechanisms: My company must make a detailed plan for succession and selection mechanisms. Though, I might be the vision bearer / founder, but the vision doesn’t need to die with me. It is expected that the business should even move to the next level after my demise.

I am particularly inspired to learn that after the death of Steve Jobs; an enduring American business man, co-founder, former chairman, and ex-chief executive officer at Apple Inc., his company has continued to move as if nothing happened. Yes, it is obvious that he hired the right team and made an enviable succession plan.

iii. Evidence of cultism

I love the way they handled this section of thought; their deep research and analysis is inspiring. While examining cultism in the visionary and comparison firms, they assessed it along three key dimensions namely indoctrination, tightness of fit and elitism.

Indoctrination: My company must have a history of formal and/ or tangible employee indoctrination process including:

Orientation programs- teaching my team things like values, behavioral norms, corporate ideology.

Internal publications- we should be publishing newsletters, books, newspapers or periodicals that reinforces the need to maintain our vision.

Encouraging the employees to socialize with each other- and to see each other as team members so as to actualize the corporate objective of the company.

Hiring smart professionals- and encouraging the use of strong oral and communicative skills, and to shun making unprofessional and provocative speeches or sentences.

Tightness of fit: I am very much aware that the vision of my company will put some people off; there are those who would not like to be part of the company, simply because they felt that they can’t cope with the high standards or ethical demands of my vision. Such people should be carefully shown the exit door without noise of words.

My company can use a wide range of tangible methods to enforce tightness of fit including:

Tangible rewards, recognitions, and bonuses to those who fall within the corporate ideology, and offering penalties, and reinforcement to those that don’t fit.

Tolerance for minor or negligible mistakes.

Tight screening processes both during the hiring process and within the first few months of hiring the employee; the employee should be trained on the relevant skills needed in the job.

Severe penalty for lack of loyalty or any sense of betrayal.

Elitism: My company must at all cost reinforce a sense of belonging among the employee. This can be expressed in various ways like:

Celebrations to reinforce successes or achievements

Lots of emphasis that we are one big, happy family- this instil in the hearts and minds of the team, a sense of togetherness, a sense of belonging- working as if they are in their private enterprise.

Physical isolation- I should minimize the way my team deal with the outside world. Therefore, the company should have essential facilities like restaurants, clinic/ pharmacy section, social gathering places etc.

iv. Evidence of core ideology

While analyzing the ideological nature of visionary companies. The authors considered the following four concepts namely:

Statement of ideology: The core value and purpose of the company should be written down and be communicated to all the members of the organization. Statement of ideology should serve as source of guidance.

Core ideology is not something you can fake, create or set; instead it is something that you discover. Values that the organization ought to have must be persistently-held.

Historical continuity of ideology: My company should strive as much as possible to sustain the ideology it has stated.

Ideology beyond profits: One of the primordial roles of my company should be to discuss the role of profitability or shareholder wealth. However, this shouldn’t be the primary driving objective of the company. Our ideology should go beyond profitability.

Consistency between ideology and actions: My company’s ideology must be matched with strategic decisions and policies. Core ideology is only useful and meaningful to those inside the organization- they are the ones that are compelled by the purpose and core values so as to achieve the organization’s success.

v. People who can’t build a visionary company

The authors were very blunt about their description of people that will never build a visionary company. They started by asking a question “are there any people who can’t build a visionary company?” They answered in the affirmative that the number is few.

They maintained that those who will like to rest on their oars or laurels; those who would like to live on their past glories or those whose main focus is money or profit making and nothing else or those with no core ideology and those who doesn’t really care about the health of the company after their demise.

They made their points succinctly clear that if I don’t have the drive for success, then there is no point attempting to start up a visionary company in the first place. In fact, when I reached this point, I was nodding my head in confirmation. I concluded immediately that Built to Last is a book everyone should read, especially aspiring entrepreneurs or students in the Business-related disciplines. To be a successful business person, I must employ the principles of world-class visionary companies. My visionary company must fulfill its core purpose- to guide and inspire, as well as maximize shareholder’s wealth.

vi. Core purpose

This is another strong component of core ideology- it is the sole reason why a company exists in the first place. If I am asked to make a choice between core purpose and core values. I will go with core purpose, because it is the bedrock for guiding and inspiring an organization. Core purpose is difficult to indentify than core values.An effective core purpose reflects the importance people attach to the organization. It captures the soul of the organization. The core purpose of my organization should go beyond the realm of just making money. To buttress this point, they quoted a speech made by David Packard in 1960, when he said:

“I think many people assume wrongly that a company exists simply to make money, while this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being.”

My team and I should never confuse core purpose with business strategies or specific goals. Although goals can be achieved, but a purpose can never be fulfilled, it is unattainable. It is like a guiding star on the horizon-always pursued, but never actualized. The core purpose I have mapped out for my organization can never change, but it can inspire change. My core purpose should solve unresolved or complex problems innovatively, improve and make technical contribution for the welfare and advancement of humanity. Finally, my company must have a clearer understanding of their purpose so as to make work meaningful and thereby attract, retain, and motivate outstanding people.

vii. Core values

This is simply the company’s essential and most important tenets- timeless guiding principles that don’t require any external gratification. It is important to those within it.

The authors quoted Ralph Larson, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, who said:

“The core values embodied in our credo might be a competitive advantage, but that is not why we have them. We have them because they define for us what we stand for, and we would hold them even if they become a competitive disadvantage in certain situations.”

The keyword is that as someone desirous of building an enduring great company, I should make it a point of duty to decide for myself the values I hold to be core. Before setting up my core values, it is also necessary that I take a look at the competitive requirements and current environment, and brainstorm with my management team. We should relentlessly seek for truly core values. I should not in any way confuse core values with operating practices, cultural norms and business strategies- which should be open for change depending on the situation. Core values stand the test of time, and are unchangeable so to speak. Having drafted a preliminary list of core values with my team, we should ask ourselves this all important question: ‘if the circumstances changed, and penalized us for holding this core values, would we still keep it?’ if we are unable to honestly answer this question, then it is very clear that it is not core, and therefore should be disregarded with immediate effect. While setting up my organizational core values, i should brainstorm with people who have the highest level of competence and credibility, because our core values are very important to us, we can never compromise it. If the present market in our environment doesn’t value our products, we shouldn’t give up; instead we should find markets that value it.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I watched with keen interest on how these two amazing authors examined established and upcoming visionary companies in many countries around the globe. I discovered that cultures, levels of development and multiple taxations can affect a company’s humble beginning and overall development especially if the company is springing up in most of the volatile regions of Sub-Saharan African countries and Asia.

If I experience any of these setbacks, the last thing I should do would be to give up; instead I should relentlessly chase my dream with unparallel determination and courage. I should try as much as possible to maintain my core values, purpose, discover and articulate unifying, global core ideologies that have worked for many companies overtime. I should always remember this statement they made “when operating at their best (which they don’t always do) enduring, great companies do not abandon their core values and high performance standards when doing business in different cultures.” I shouldn’t abandon my business or any lucrative opportunity to invest in countries or environments with emerging economies.

As someone who is passionate about setting up a visionary firm, I should occasionally review my workforce, and review also intending applications. I should fill strategic positions with people of innovative ideas. We shouldn’t look for people who will make money for us only, but also those with the required skills, purpose and core values.

As a leader, I should always learn how to harness the potentials of my workforce or invest in my team members- they deserve it more than I think. This reminds me of what Walt Elias Disney, Founder of Walt Disney said in 1954 that ‘of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal’ I can never go wrong by developing the talents of my team members or employees- this enhances their productivity.

We are living in an unpredictable world; it is extremely impossible for one to predict exactly (100%) where they are going and how their future would be. Founders of visionary companies know that it is easy to understand who they are than where they are going- because where they are going can change along the line. I have long discovered that since we are living in the 21st century, the apex of civilizations, newly established visionary companies will need to have radically different strategies, structures, practices and mechanisms than in the 20th century.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“People feel inspired by the very notion of building an enduring, great company.”

Over the years, I have seen read about quite a good number of thoughtful thinking business-minded people who strived to create a unique company that would outlive them. Most of these visions go beyond the level of making money only.Most of these people were following the standards set by their mentors in the business world-Paul Galvin, David Packard, Walt Disney, George Merck, Masaru Ibuka, William McKnight, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many more. One amazing thing about the lives of these people is that they did not start as corporate giants; instead they had a humble beginning, started as a small business people and aspiring entrepreneurs. From there, their ideas or companies grew to enduring and successful corporations. The authors quoted an executive who said ‘to know that they did it gave us confidence and a model to follow’

“Thoughtful people crave time-tested fundamentals; they are tired of the ‘fad of the year’ boom-and-bust cycle of management thinking.”

Yes, an ancient philosopher, Heraclitus said many centuries ago that the only thing constant in life is change. The world continues to change at an astronomical pace. However, this doesn’t mean we should ignore fundamental concepts that have lasted for ages. One of the problems facing organizations is the inability to follow and apply consistent management ideas that has worked for a good number of organizations in the past. Some of such ideas are still relevant till date. We will be making a whole lot of mistakes by ignoring or failing to apply them in our organizations.

“Executives at companies in transition find the concepts in Build to Last to be helpful in bringing about productive change without destroying the bedrock foundation of a great company (or, in some cases, building that bedrock for the first time.)”

The authors are of the opinion that we should desist from asking ‘how should we change the world’ to asking ‘what we do we stand for and why do we exist?’ visionary companies should make a classical distinction of their ending purpose and timeless core values. This has been exceptionally useful to a number of organizations. The ability to harness continuity and change is one big ‘secret’ to creating an enduring big company.

“There are many visionary companies out there, and they’ve found the book to be a welcome development of their approach to business.”

Visionary companiescan come in the following packages; large, small, public, private, high profile and reclusive, stand-alone companies and subsidiaries. The following well-known companies belong to the examples of visionary companies in our authors’ assessments- Coca-cola, Levis Strauss, Mckinsey, McDonalds. While brainstorming about the activities and progress of these visionary companies, I discovered that they are solid, shunning the limelight, paying attention to the fundamentals, creating jobs to millions of people, generating wealth for the shareholders, board members and most importantly making an enduring contribution to the society.

It is always a pleasure to watch these companies add value to life. they defined a visionary company as ‘premier institutions- the crown of jewels- in their industries, widely admired by their peers and having a long track record of making a significant impact on the world around them. The key point is that a visionary company is an organization- an institution. The authors carefully chose the term ‘visionary companies’ rather than just ‘successful’ or ‘enduring companies’ to reflect the fact that they have distinguished themselves as a very special and elite breed of institutions. They are more than successful’

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

In the preface of the book, the authors said ‘we did something in researching and writing this book that to our knowledge has never done before. We took a set of truly exceptional companies that have stood the test of time- the average founding date being 1897- and studied them from their very beginnings, through all phases of development to the present day; and we studied them in comparison to another set of good companies that had the same shot in life, but didn’t attain quite the same stature.I try not to resist my feelings on certain glaring issues. My reservation to this great quote is that I don’t think they should have said that they have done something that ‘nobody has done before’. To hold such view is to discredit the untiring researches going on in the business world.

Many books have been written about companies that have existed for centuries; their various stages of development from the ancient, through medieval and modern down to the contemporary era. So, I am just wondering why they should say that they have done something nobody has done before.

Secondly, to hold such view tenaciously means that their research was not exhaustive, because it was, common sense must have convinced them that some other scholars or researchers have equally done that before.

Another reservation is that while discussing “twelve shattered myths.” They said that “a charismatic visionary leader is absolutely not required for a visionary company, and in fact can be detrimental to a company’s long-term prospects.” This view, though intelligent as it may sound, is totally unacceptable to my creative thinking thought, because every prospective visionary company requires the services of a charismatic visionary leader. They make best moves by trial and error and experimentation so as to maintain the company’s core values, maximize profits at the same time than most purely profit-driven firms.

A visionary company requires complex strategic and brilliant planning, and a highly successful charismatic leader stands a better chance of achieving it. A company, no matter the height it has reached can collapse within a flash if the enviable founding inspiration is not sustained. A visionary charismatic leader stands a better chance of sustaining that great idea. The builders of visionary companies were highly resourceful and persistent in their dreams, always living to the motto “never, never, never give up.”

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?


7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

They actually talked about so many things I love so much. But, let me just talk about few of them. Whenever I memorize these points, my entrepreneurial mindset is awakened:

“Similarly, all leaders no matter how charismatic or visionary, eventually die. But a visionary company does not necessarily die.” Visionary companies stand the test of time. According to the available statistics and analysis in the book, most of the serious-minded business professionals of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries understood this principle. This is a great message and a clarion call for CEO’s, managers, and entrepreneurs. Development of people is the prime responsibility of every visionary leader. I should care about their loyalty, interests, and skills, see the good in them, appreciate them and obviously develop those qualities.

As a business leader, I should understand the importance of time management. As we use to say in Latin ‘tempus fugit’ (meaning, time flies), so I should maximize every little opportunity I have, bearing in mind that every time count. Every visionary company must have and maintain their core ideologies. As the CEO of a visionary company, it is my utmost desire to make the following central to my ideologies; contribution, integrity, respect for every employee, service to the customer, being creative, risk taking, responsibility to the community, tolerance for honest mistakes, solving problems, product quality and reliability.

I should give customers enabling environment to do business, while offering them quality service, excellent value and making them really wanted, some companies are finding it extremely difficult to maintain and live to these ideologies. Visionary companies get a purpose; they always live their visions by consistently asking themselves why are we here in the first place? The primary role of a visionary company is to guide and inspire the organizations for years or even centuries to come. They continually pursue, but sometimes never achieve their purposes; like pursuing a guiding star or chasing the earth’s horizon. One of their favorite quotes is that ‘Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world’

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



The Leadership Pill

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

The Leadership Pill is an amazing book; it teaches us how to show integrity, affirm people’s sense of worth by letting them know that what they do is important. This book aims at teaching us how to be an effective leader, develop qualities that will make us effective. I have learnt that a leader directs; shows the way, while a boss commands or has a domineering attitude. The authors; Ken Blanchard and Marc Muchnick talked about various things including customer service, teamwork, performance management, leadership, managing and motivating followers, attracting and retaining talents, innovative leadership principles, team assessment, experiential skill building and many more.

The Leadership Pill is one of those books that has showed me how to overcome my shortcomings, make the most of every situation, truly be the best I can be, and then bring out the best in my team. I should always act like a leader and not a boss.

It engaged my heart and mind, and taught me the secrets of leading others; it taught me how to follow both inefficient and effective leaders, and the ingredients of effective leadership. As a leader, I should always lead the way, and not just be at the back acting like a boss. A leader is always in the front showing the way.As someone who is passionate about the development of next generation of leaders, it equipped me with leadership strategies on how to do it. The Leadership Pill also unveils the connections of leadership to productivity, morality and active engagement.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. Integrity

The authors said that ‘integrity lays the foundation for trust and respect’ if I respect my team members, I will seek their opinions in decision making or in day-to-day running of the firm. Even though I will seek their opinions, I am not obliged to abide by what they say at all times. As a team leader, my primary focus should be learning how to build respect and trust; respecting my co-workers and customers, actively listening and taking the initiative to help them out. I should create an open door policy.

My team would be ever willing to trust and respect me, if there is no conflict between what I say and what I do; there must be an agreement between the two. With this in mind, I believe I will turn from a dysfunctional team leader to a high performing one within a couple of days, weeks or even months. As an aspiring leader of integrity and repute; it is my utmost desire to help individuals and organizations recognize the power of motivating, valuing and developing themselves and enabling them to appreciate themselves very well.

ii. Partnership

Our authors say that ‘partnership harvests the potential of the team’. Partnership implies that leaders need to help their people work, learn and grow together in unity. A popular saying goes thus “united we stand, divided we fall.” You must actually know how to delegate tasks to others and trust their judgments. Always keep in mind that nobody is indispensable. There are certain things you cannot do on your own. You can only be at a place at a time. There is a limit to what we know. An African proverb says ‘he who knows everything has a lot to learn’ our authors say ‘good leaders get to know people beyond their job titles…they find out what makes each individual on their team unique’.

iii. Affirmation

They described “affirmation” as the final ingredient of the secret blend for effective leadership- makes people feel valued’ the first was integrity, the second partnership, and now the third is ‘affirmation’. According to him, affirmation is letting people know that what they do is important. The key to effective leadership is the relationship you build with your team. Whenever I reflect the concept of affirmation with people, I always receive this question ‘how can we put affirmation into action?’ I think the answer is simple ‘ saying thank you is one simple way you can make a huge difference in the way others feel about themselves by letting them know that you appreciate their efforts and recognize that what they do is important. The key is to follow the rules of effective praising. Praise is an effective, sincere and honest way of appreciating people. It would achieve the desired result if it is given as soon as the behavior occurs.

iv. Power of Praising

Praising is an easy, cost-effective way to make people feel valued. Praise is the easiest way to let people know they are appreciated. Every leader should know the importance of recognizing the goodness in others. I can encourage underperforming members of the team to bring out their best, or to work on their best. This simple act would propel them to do more exploit sometimes beyond their own wildest imagination. When I encourage them, their performance will improve with time.

v. Have confidence in your ability to think for yourselves

“People will think for themselves when you quit doing for them” according to our authors. They are empowering us to achieve the goals we mapped out for ourselves. The greatest thought is the one we have never thought. Developing confidence in ourselves will enable us to stretch our brains and unlock more potentials.

vi. Getting everyone to the place they are supposed to go

They described leadership as the process of getting everyone to the place they are supposed to go. In this case, we should equip our teams with confidence, determination and necessary resources they need to excel; encourage them to take mental hygiene when necessary, reduce stress and think for themselves. As a team leader, I should try as much as possible to be truly accessible to my members through one-on-one coaching, and actively soliciting for their ideas for the good of the organization. This will make the team to be high-performing.

vii. The highest achievement as a leader

According to Ken Blanchard and Marc Muchnick,“winning the respect and trust of your team” is the highest achievement one can achieve as a leader. I want to work with a top-notch team. I will do everything humanly possible to make it work. I want to be a leader who makes things happen; not one who doesn’t know what is happening or one who watch things happen. To do this profitably, I will blend integrity, partnership and affirmation. This is what they called ‘perfecting the blend’. This works effectively for those who desire to be more effective. These three great principles to me are irrefutable qualities for effective leadership.Overtime, I have brainstormed over these concepts, and came to the realization that a leader truly needs to have them. An effective leader should bring the following in his or her organizations, namely employee productivity, effectiveness, performance management, teamwork, customer service, leadership and needed organizational change.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

I read this book, and was impressed at its impressive contents. I will recommend it to some of the people I am mentoring currently, and those I will mentor in future; it will help them to lead their organizations and hone their leadership skills. They need this pill to build an effective career. My eyes actually opened after reading through this masterpiece. It was great learning something new from these intelligent people- these professionals are experts in the field of motivation and leadership. I have read similar books in the past, but this one is particularly unique, because it offers fresh ideas and new insight. I tried reading it three consecutive times, and each time I read it, I gain new insight.

Having read this book, I will bring a ‘breath of fresh air or innovations’ to my organization. It would be a great thing for me and my associates. I was exceedingly happy learning about value-driven leadership based on integrity, partnership and affirmation. I know these three concepts earlier, but I didn’t know their utmost importance to effective leadership till I come in contact with this book. I am set to apply the principles learnt here to my organization and to people I meet. These authors have succeeded in turning my life and career around.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Leadership is not something you do to people; it is something you do with them.”

Yes, a leader does not act like a boss, he leads the way and others follow. But a boss stays at the back. As a leader, I should make it a priority to be working with my team. I will work with them, not allowing them to work for me only. In this case, I should be acting like a servant leader.

“If leadership ability is not improved, seek the advice of human resources professional.”

In an organization, if the team members are not performing at optimal level, it is an indication that they need some training. As the leader of the team, it would be a credit if human resource professionals are contracted to come and train them. This is one of the things effective organizations do at intervals.

“Leading people is the opposite of controlling them.”

As a leader, I don’t need to control people. In fact, controlling them showcases my ineffectiveness and inefficiency; instead I should harness their skills, and lead the way. I should work with them. A good leader work with his team. I know that some employees can really be too trying or stubborn. Such people should be motivated to embrace the needed change and work towards realizing the organizations’ corporate goals. Whereby, they have vehemently or arrogantly showed no sign of change, I should gentle recognize their services so far, and then advise them to resign. I don’t like using the word ‘fire’. It is not in my nature to fire underperforming employees, but I can either advise them to resign or advise them to seek for other services elsewhere, while wishing them the best in their future endeavors.

“The true test of leadership is to win the trust and respect of the team, keep their motivation running high, and help them reach new height. As a result, the team will work together and consistently perform well overtime-even if the leader is not around.”

As a leader, I should always aim at winning the trust and respect of my team members.

“When you turn customers into raving fans, they become part of your sales force. They want to brag about how well you treat them.”

Customers are kings, if I treat them with all the respect and love they deserve, they will keep coming back in their thousands, and also keep recommending my products to their circle of colleagues, friends and well-wishers. Our authors also affirmed this when they said “profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for people.”

“All the surveys show that the number one thing people want in a leader is integrity. Integrity is about creating a set of operating values and then living true to them. When a leader’s actions embody the organization’s values, the result is a value-driven culture. This is the essence of integrity.”

Integrity is one of the enviable marks of a leader. A leader that lacks integrity would be completely deceptive; they should be avoided at all cost. In fact, they shouldn’t be addressed as leaders in the first place.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The authors didn’t get it right when they said “praise should be consistently applied to situations where praise is warranted, but not given every single time a person does something right.” My reservation to this is simple. If you don’t appreciate people or your team members anytime they did something amazing, they would think you don’t have an attitude of gratitude; they would think you are an ingrate. I don’t think a leader should be selective while thanking people or even should be tired of thanking people, because a thoughtful heart is a grateful heart. When you appreciate them for favors received, or for the little things they have done, they would be motivated to do more.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Actually, there were no exercises for the reader to complete. But in page 110 of the book I read, they summarized the book. I love the summary. When I reached this point, it was like going through the entire book in a few seconds. They called this section ‘the secret blend for effective leadership’. The principles in this page are really having a transformative effect on my thinking thought.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I have been able to air my views above; this book will go a long way to build a productive relationship, it is enduring, unique, and describes the true essence of effective leadership.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is an imaginative, transformative and engaging business book for entrepreneurs. After reading it, I discovered new ways of looking at the world and at business. The authors; Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom made a classical distinction between a centralized and decentralized organization. A centralized organization is any major form or government agency, from where decisions are being made (e.g the corporate headquarters, boardroom, city hall etc). Someone is in charge; he / she can hire, retain and dismiss any underperforming staff. The boss takes some proactive actions on behalf of the organization. He / she can use command and control for the maintenance of peace.

In decentralized system, there is no leader, hierarchy and no corporate headquarters. If someone emerges as a leader, that person should know that they have little power over others. The most inspiring and influential activity that person could do would be to live by example. According to Nevins, the traits of a decentralized society are flexibility, shared power and ambiguity. The first major principle of decentralization: when attacked, a decentralized organization tends to become even more open and decentralized. The authors say the harder you fight a decentralized opponent, the stronger it gets. Decentralized organization can produce higher financial returns.

Centralized organization is divided into various departments or units, marketing departments perform their duties, the same thing applies to human resource department etc. Some department may engage themselves with multiple disciplinary roles, but each is working for the overall good of the company- all these are geared towards supporting the weight of the organization. But in decentralized organizations, anyone can take up any role or do anything.

In this amazing book, the authors talked about how starfish organizations are changing the face of businesses globally and how established companies and institutions try as much as possible to incorporate starfish principles so as to optimize success. This compelling book is showing us a provocative way of building my individual and corporate organizations. After going through this book meticulously, new meanings were added to my life.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

i. Spider

According to the authors; Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, a spider is a creature with eight legs coming out of a central body. With a magnifying glass, we can see that a spider has also a tiny head and eight eyes. If you chop off the spider’s head, it dies. It could maybe survive without its head. Every spider organization has a physical structure. If you take out the corporate headquarters, there are chances that the company will die a natural death- that is how most spider organizations work.

ii. Starfish

A starfish is similar to a spider in appearance. Like the spider, the starfish appears to have a bunch of legs coming out of a central body. But that is where the similarities end. The starfish doesn’t have a head. Its central body is not even in charge. If you cut it into two, you will be surprise to see that it won’t die; instead you will have two starfish to deal with. It functions like a decentralized network. It doesn’t have a brain or central command. Scientists are still battling and engaging themselves with a lot of research on how this creature operates. Starfish organization doesn’t operate from a permanent location or have a central headquarter.

iii. User ratings

According to the authors, trust is vital. Quoting Harvard researchers, they said that “a positive or negative rating has real-life consequences” as a passionate business person, I should make sure that my site is properly designed like eBay, Amazon and lots more so that after shopping, buyers can easily leave their positive, negative or neutral feedback. I don’t need a soothsayer to tell me that when I have amazing feedbacks, traffic to my site would be much. Users usually flock around the site they believe is a market leader. I have been an online freelance journalist and writer for an unprecedented four years now; I know that some clients have retained me as their regular literary service provider because of the quality of work I provide.

Currently, over 95% of my clients have left amazing feedbacks; those feedbacks have in turn attracted more jobs for me. I have come to the realization that people will not use my services because I am handsome or intelligent fellow only, but they will use it because other people have recommended my services. They can know more about me by perusing through my online freelance profiles.

iv. Google Search

They advised that my online business must be useful- must be capable of driving enough traffic. Huge traffic translates to huge earnings. I will be running a profitless venture if the traffic is not encouraging. According to them: ‘in essence, doing a Google search is like running a popularity contest: which site in a given topic is most popular?’ My online company must be searchable, such that when people search anything or product that is in my company, my site would be among the top 5 that will show on Google or in any of the search engines.

v. Elusive sweet pot

“Companies can’t rest on their decentralized laurels; they must seek and pursue the elusive ‘sweet pot.” If I am running a decentralized system, teams will function like a circle; they would come to work not out of dependence on the pay check, but just to pursue their passion. It is my duty to help them realize their dreams. Every employee is given the ample opportunity to contribute their quota towards the running of the organization. Decentralization according to them brings out creativity, but it also creates variance.

Using Apple as a case study, they maintained that ‘there is money to be made from adopting the middle-ground approach, Apple may be sitting pretty on the sweet pot today, but that is no guarantee that the sweet pot won’t shift tomorrow. It’s almost like a tug-of-war: the forces of centralization and decentralization continue to pull the sweet pot to and fro. But understanding that the sweet pot can move and predicting these tectonic shifts are two very different things.

I should try to make my company to look professional, and reliable so that clients can be very happy doing business with me. People are likely going to request for a security check or a third party if they are not sure of my services. Therefore my site should not have any atom of unsavory contents. To chase that sometimes elusive sweet pot, they encouraged entrepreneurs like me to emulate hybrid companies like Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Skype, PayPal, eBay, Amazon and many more.

vi. The Network effect

The authors talked about the network effect which was occasioned by the advent of information and technological breakthroughs in this apex of civilization. Most successful starfish organizations like Skype and craigslist are creating value to each other at little or no cost. It absolutely cost nothing to add, share and communicate using these platforms.

Every member can make others richer with information on a daily basis. I have seen so many companies that have a group in Skype, Whatsapp, facebook, and other social media sites- where they communicate, share information and hold meetings with each other even while they are in different parts of the world. In this case, distance is never a barrier. Time and space can never be a barrier to the flourishing of the business. As an aspiring business person, I understand the power of networking. In fact, networking is a new way of doing business in this 21st century.

As a business leader, I should create an open forum where my team or employees, customers and prospective clients can share and connect with each other and discuss my products and services- this platform will help me to grow my vision. I believe this will give me the opportunity to know more about my products- I will know more about it, when I listen to what people are saying about it. Their honest observations would help me to serve them better.

Creating this type of network opens doors to myriads of opportunities. Many companies have used this method to thrive and overtake their major competitors. The value of networking is so enduring and inspirational to the extent that both the buyers and sellers will remain loyal to the vision of the company. Creativity and good ideas will attract more people to my enterprise. In this way, I will build my enterprise through effective leadership.

vii. The spread of the starfish revolution

The authors made it clear that they are championing starfish revolutions. According to them, since after launching this book, they have been astounded by three global mega trends namely:

Interest in social networks and all other forms of decentralized networks worldwide.

A continued proliferation of starfish organizations appearing across a broad range of businesses, governments and organizations and Managers, leaders and catalysts resonating with the starfish principles laid out in this book. To me, this book is like a Copernican revolution and a wakeup call to all in the business world to embrace this starfish revolution so as to maximize earnings. As a business leader, I should optimize social media and use it to champion the ideals of my business.

I have seen many private and corporate organizations using this method to maximize earnings and also making their businesses a household name among their competitors, so mine shouldn’t be an exception.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The starfish and the spider is one of the best books I have read in recent times; it is insightful, straight to the point and offers a great impact on my person and my visions.

Leveraging the principles in this book will enable me to be an effective business leader, and also assist me in setting up a network of top business professionals or executives. I drew a lot of inspiration from what they told some priests and executives of the big tech companies who asked the question “how can I be a better starfish in what seems to be a spider like organization?”

Their response was simply amazing. They encouraged them to follow the leadership style and model of Mother Teresa of Calcutta of the Blessed memory.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is one of the prominent figures of the 20th century, and from my deep research and philosophical analysis, she is one of the most photographed personalities of her time except Pope John Paul II. Mother Teresa exhibited some of the enduring attributes of an authentic leader namely, honesty, superb communicative skills, self-confidence & moral conviction, ability to empower others, inspiration, positivity, deep commitment for the service of God & humanity, unassuming sense of humour, ability to inspire trust, creativity and intuition.

She created a starfish organization, ‘Missionaries of Charity’ which has spread to more than 130 countries of the world, while still working within the realm of hierarchical organizations many years after her demise. This book has encouraged me as an aspiring entrepreneur to take an active role in my business endeavors and also to be genuine in all my dealings, and to connect with the right people at the deeper level. This action will take my vision beyond my lifetime. No doubt, this is part of the reason why it is my utmost desire to make a lasting impression on whoever I meet.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Either be somewhat centralized and face lawsuits, or be completely decentralized but produce no revenues.”

There is more to this, I don’t delve deeper into what I am thinking in this due to want of time and space. I understand here that if I am running a centralized company, I will maximize lots of profits while serving my customers at an optimal level at the same time. They also said that I will face lawsuits when necessary. But when I am running a decentralized establishment, there is a possibility that I may not make enough profit (I would have make if I am running a centralized system) to take care of the working capital and claims. I can make my company to be centralized by consolidating it. But my little reservation to this is where they said that decentralized companies produce no revenues- this is absolutely fallacious.

“People don’t notice or care whether they’re interacting with a spider or with a starfish. As long as they’re given freedom, as long as they can do what they want to do, they’re happy.”

Once I give my team the leverage to express themselves, they would be happy doing so, and would surely perform at an optimal level.

“If you’re Microsoft and all of sudden your competitors are giving out better products for free, pretty soon you will lose your competitive advantage.”

As a leader of a team or an executive director of a company, I should know what is going among competitors. I don’t need to envy them for whatever reason, but I should know how far they are going with their products and how their products are affecting lives both within my immediate environment and around the world. This will help me to re-strategize and work on my products so as to overtake them. If my competitors are giving out bonuses and benefits. I should also design a platform which will make my customers to enjoy better discounts, deals or bonuses. My business would be jeopardized once my competitors have overtaken me. Patronage would be low, so I should at all cost be miles away ahead of the competition.

“Put people into an open system and they’ll automatically want to contribute.”

This is their seventh principle of decentralization. When I give people ample opportunity to contribute their quota, they would make remarkable contributions. Also, it is important to note that when we give people their required freedom, we will see a variety of expressions- chaos or incredible credibility. My team should be aware that the freedom I am giving them goes with responsibility. Freedom without responsibility is dead.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The authors confirmed one of the quotes of Drucker which says “the purpose of learning is to qualify oneself for a new, different and bigger job.”

My reservation to this belief is multiple, but let me just state only three.

First, from my studies in philosophy, I have come to the realization that some people pursue knowledge for knowledge sake. Secondly, there are many people who are already made; they have acquired all the basic necessities of life, and just wish to go and acquire western education. Thirdly, there are yet another set of people who think that the overall purpose of learning is to acquire relevant skills that will enable them to get bigger jobs.

When you subject what the authors have said above to a rigorous critical analysis, you will discover that both Drucker and the authors were absolutely wrong. Their ideas were too myopic to a fault (sorry for the use of that word ‘myopic’. They actually made so many notable points in this book. So, the use of “myopic” is used in this context for the sake of intellectual analysis). Instead of saying, “the purpose of learning” I feel they should have said ‘one of the purposes of learning. Unfortunately, I have so many people within my environment who share this view, they think that going to school is a gate valve to being gainfully employed or being rich.

If you go to school, and yet you lacked the technical know-how or relevant skills for the available jobs, you will never be hired. If you are hired by mistake, you will underperform because you don’t have the instrumentum laboris (instrument of work) required in the job. One of my reasons of setting up a business or leadership school in the near future would be to address this issue squarely. Many graduates are unemployable because they lack these skills.

The authors also committed another fallacy when they said “but watch out, if you turn a catalyst into a CEO, the entire network will be in jeopardy.”

This is another dangerous assumption, which also beg the question if they were the ones that were singing psalms about a catalyst. As far as am concerned, I don’t think they gave this book a thoughtful, creative and critical outlook. A catalyst can be likened as someone who brings out the needed change in an organization.

Being filled with a progressive mind, he drives pleasure in taking the business to the next level. He / she connect with people and bring out the needed result. So how will this person now turn the whole network into jeopardy? A catalyst takes time to share his or her knowledge with the team. So, our authors weren’t right at all. They cannot be singing wonderful about the catalyst in one page, only to come to the next page and start criticizing the same ideology- that is contradiction of the highest order. Therefore, it is quite ridiculous for our authors to approbate and reprobate at the same time.

Furthermore, this view contradicts what they said while acknowledging the enormous contributions made by Megan Casey “you can’t have a book about decentralization without a catalyst.” A catalyst is that person with professional excellence, who would keep everyone screwed to the company’s vision, mission statement, aims and philosophy.

This also contradicts their deep analysis of ‘the catalyst versus the CEO’

According to them ‘a CEO is the boss. He is in charge and he occupies the top of the hierarchy. A catalyst interacts with people as a peer. He comes as your friend’

My third reservation is this statement made by our authors: “because CEO’s are at the top of the pyramid, they lead by command-and-control. Catalysts, on the other hand, depend on trust/” After a proper investigation and experience, I discovered that not all CEO’s lead by command-and-control technique. Some are actually catalysts and lead by example. Some are collaborative, inspirational and creates powerful relationships with their team members or employees. They not only talk about the vision and mission of the company, they also encourage people to work together towards actualizing it. They are not at the back, acting like imperial or Olympian bosses; instead they are in front showing the way. I have worked with some of these CEO’s and the experience had been so amazing.

My final reservation is this statement: “A CEO’s job is to maximize profit. A catalyst is usually mission-oriented.”

This is another pardonable intellectual offence. I know that there are many CEO’s whose main dream is to actualize their vision- they keep working on it, whether they are making the profit or not. Some of them are happy even if the business is not yielding the desired result. They keep on working round the clock to ensure they achieve success. There are many of such CEO’s around us; over the years, I have discussed and even worked with some of them, now can we say that their main job is just to maximize profits? The answer is absolutely no. So, this view is totally unacceptable by me. Not only catalysts can be classified as being mission-oriented, some CEO’s are by virtue of their resoluteness, determination and dreams are mission-oriented too. These set of people are not in the business world for the purpose of maximizing profits only, instead they are there to create an enduring impact and possibly maximize profits in the long run.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No, there were no exercises for the reader to complete. But, I love the analysis of their sources between page 215 to 221 in the book I read. Their analysis was just like a summary of the entire work. I was happy when I got to this point. Memorizing the concepts is a sort of going through the entire book again.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I think the questions above covered almost all the things discussed in the book. I am exceedingly happy going through this exciting book at this period of my life.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 8



Long Walk to Freedom

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Long Walk to Freedom is an inspirational autobiography written by a renowned leader, human rights activist, philosopher, and above all non-violent freedom fighter- Nelson Mandela. The book talks about his growing up, education and 27 years unprecedented years he spent in the prison. His actions were misunderstood by the apartheid government and were subsequently jailed. The last chapter of the book talks about his ascension into his country’s presidency; how he and African National Congress won the war against apartheid and how he became his country’s first black president and his outmost belief that the patriotism, determination and courage of South Africans remained his source of inspiration.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important toUse personal examples from your own life.

There were so many ideas that magnate my mind in this voluminous, yet interesting piece of literature. But for the sake of this assessment, let me discuss seven ideas:

i. Clear vision

Anyone who is passionate about anything must have a clear vision of he/ she really wants. This factor really worked for Nelson Mandela. From an early stage, he maintained the equality of all races, and he did not compromise with his belief. He did everything humanly possible, except violence to realize his dream. Despite the frustration he encountered, he remained resolute to his dream.

ii. Strong conviction

It is not enough to have clear vision; we must also back it up with strong conviction and consistency- these are marks of originality. He could have been released many times before they eventually released him, but he refused to compromise the morality of the struggle. Even in solitary confinement, he kept on speaking against perceived injustices of his people.

iii. Great sacrifice

Every leader or aspiring leader must learn the benefits of making great sacrifice. I have taken time to study the lives of many truly great people the world has produced; most of them had to pay the price for fighting for what they believed in. Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela are perfect examples of men that paid with their lives because of the change they believed in. Taking Nelson Mandela as a case study, he sacrificed his personal wellbeing on the altar of public good; he sacrificed the comfort of staying with his beautiful family, sacrificed his legal practice and allowing to undergo 27 years imprisonment- even when he contacted tuberculosis, he never despaired.

iv. Willingness to adapt to change

An African philosopher, John Mbiti was accredited to have said that if you don’t change change, change will change you. This was the thought that came to my mind when I was reading this book. Nelson Mandela adapted to change. In the early years of his life, he had a brief stint with violence and bloody struggle against the perceived enemies. But he later had a change of mind and resorted to peaceful protest, and this paved way for freedom at the end of the day.

v. Despise not the days of humble beginning

The past does not guarantee the future. Nelson Mandela started as a poor boy; he had a humble beginning. Out of sheer hard work and resoluteness, he continued his struggle until success was achieved.

vi. Moving with the right people

In whatever I do, I have learned to work with the right people. Nelson Mandela tried it, and it worked for him. The importance of surrounding ourselves with the right people can never be overemphasized; they will support our dreams and vision for a better tomorrow. Although many people were instrumental to his struggle, there were many who were also working against his plans. Experience has shown that it is absolutely impossible to achieve anything worthwhile if we are not working with the right people. The right people in this case are the like-minded people.

vii. Not relying on past glories

The truly great people don’t rest on their oars. They keep on working and improving on their dreams. Towards the end of the Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela maintained that he has not reached his destination, and thus has continued his quest for meaning and the long walk to freedom. We must learn never to lean on whatever we have achieved. We must keep on inspiring our generation, making it better every passing day.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

There are so many things to learn from this exciting literary masterpiece; it is a resource material for entrepreneurs, leaders, human resource professionals, activists, journalists, students and those who are trying to make this world a better place. For someone like me who is trying to create a change in the society. I found this book as an interesting piece. The lessons I have learned here are invaluable. Let me briefly explain some of them:

Nelson Mandela has taught me to be true to my dreams and never to give up on them no matter the setbacks.

As an entrepreneur, I should learn how to celebrate small victories, achieving a milestone no matter how small it is, is enough reason to celebrate.

I have also learnt how to endure the trials and provocations of life with deep hope and strength from divine. During his 27 years sojourn in the prison; two most loved people in his life died namely his mother, and son- despite his requests to attend their funerals, he was denied the opportunity. He cried and wailed bitterly yet never despaired in his dreams. I should learn how to cope at the death of the beloved.

I have also learnt the ability to let go of things I cannot have at a particular point in time.

Having a great vision is one thing, and then selling it is another thing. As a leader and entrepreneur, I should learn how to sell myself on a daily basis.

Every experience in life should not neglected. They have something to teach us; they are there to make us better. All the experiences Mandela had both the good, bad and ugly all played roles in making him a great African statesman.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

Nelson Mandela made so many awesome quotable quotes, but let me cite only three:

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”

I love his analysis on education. He simply said the truth.

“Education plays the child of the less-privilege on the same rank with the person born with silver spoon. Providentially too, I have dined and wined with high and mighty, which wouldn’t have been so, considering my humble background. But I was able to do this because of the education I have acquired and also by divine providence.”

“Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them.”

He was indeed selfless. He committed his time, talent and treasure solely to the freedom of his people. There is no compromise on this. He was ready to accept death than compromise the cause of his struggles. His actions and words on this spoke volumes.

‘I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.

This man justified this saying by the things he did. He was a true freedom fighter. It is obvious he had no intention of being celebrated. His commitment to the cause he believed in was second to none. He was never an opportunist, he ventured into the realm of freedom fighting because he saw the need for it.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

I think Mandela didn’t spend time to talk about his ex-wife, Winnie. Since he was writing his autobiography, he should have told us much about his one-time love. He shouldn’t have dealt so much on the ordeals he passed through in the prison at the expense of talking about his love life. He is tempting me to believe that nobody tells his full story.

However, I salute him as a great force to reckon with in the fight for racial equality and human rights. This memoir has placed him as one of the inspiring historic figures. This book chronicles around his misfortunes, renewed hope, and eventual triumph.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No, there were no exercises in the book.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Long Walk to Freedom chronicles a deeply touching and struggle of one of the most inspiring lives of the 20th century civilization. Just like Angeles Times Review clearly says: “it is one of the few autobiographies that’s also a page turner.”

Nelson Mandela embarked on a journey worth taking. It is the story of a man who was the conscience of his time, he pursued what he believed and never despaired despite the unfortunate circumstances he met. This book is rich in content and deep analysis, thoughtful and compelling. His determination and patriotism paid off.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were its contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Peace is the Way

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This book is an expansion and / or creative reflection on A.J Muste’s popular saying that: “there is no way to peace, peace is the way.” Deepak Chopra is encouraging each and every one of us to shun violence, and reject war. The reader is inspired to become fully human and spread love in their communities.

Deepak Chopra, a bestselling spiritual writer is telling us to bring a transformative change, so as to make this world a better place. He preaches that nonviolence and pursuit of peace remain the only and safest way to move forward. I agree absolutely with Federico Major Zaragoza’s description of the book ‘Peace is the way goes beyond the customary ways of resolving conflicts, including activism, and humanitarianism’ it is a bold, creative and visionary solution to the world’s problems.

He reflected deeply on the ancient teachings of classical spiritual teachers namely, Jesus Christ, Moses, Buddha, Laotse, Muhammad, Krishna and lots more. Deepak emphasizes in clear terms that peace is not the absence of war, but the absence of the causes of war. If there is no peace, the world would go into pieces. Thus, this book offers a great relief.

This Peace he is talking about does not start from the outside, instead it starts from me; I must be a peacemaker, I must radiate peace at all times. Peace is the way; a timeless masterpiece is the answer to global problems of political instability, civil war, bribery & corruption, deprivation, terrorism, nuclear threats from world’s super powers to developing nations and so on. His eloquent message to all these things is that war is not necessary, peace is surely the way. This is one of the most meaningful books I have read in recent times. I am now challenged to be an advocate of peace both in my immediate environment and outside the world. In my dealings with people, I have always had this belief that no matter the situation, war shouldn’t be an option.

I have taken time countless number of times to reflect on what happened during the world war I and world war II, and Biafra-Nigeria civil war between 1967- 1970, where over six million lives were wasted, due to the pursuit of one interest or the other. Let me single out civil war in Nigeria, which happened many years before I was born. My father, who was in his early twenties participated actively in the war. Thus, he was one of the hurriedly recruited Biafra soldiers. The war ended many years ago, but the effects of the war has never left him. Whenever he tells me what happened during the war, I get so scared and both of us will wish it never happened. And how I wish the history is never repeated, because it will have a more dangerous effect.

This continued experience has encouraged me to keep on pursuing peace as the only option. The life and times of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II, and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ has really pushed me to pursue peace even with the last drop of my blood. War or conflict is something I will never wish for my greatest enemy, if I have one. The way of peace is love in action. The ultimate contribution I can bring to my community today is peace, nothing else. Peace is the mother to other inventions. A J Muste and Deepak Chopra have taught me that ‘peace is the way’. Therefore, I should strive to be a pacifist, not just an anti-war activist.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Living the way of peace

Quoting an ancient Vedic text, he says that we will know we are living the way of peace, when three things are present namely;

“Seva”- when my actions don’t harm anyone and is beneficial to all.

“Simran” –when I remember the purpose for my being

“Satsang”- when I belong to the community of peace and wisdom, and having no enemies.

According to him, these three S-words describe the idea of life. Seva includes selfless action like volunteerism, charity, mentoring, school reach out programs, evangelism etc. All these activities are not motivated by money or a need to be self-important. Simran- higher vision of humanity like the peace movement, human rights, the human potential movements and many more. Satsang- communities of peace and wisdom include churches, prayer groups, convents, monasteries, meditation retreats, utopian communities and lots more.

ii. Seven practices for peace

Deepak Chopra advised that I can make peace real, one step at a time by following this specific practice every day of my life:

Sunday: Being for peace

Monday: Thinking for peace

Tuesday: Feeling for peace

Wednesday: Speaking for peace

Thursday: Acting for peace

Friday: creating for peace

Saturday: sharing for peace

All these activities can be done privately, but everyone around me must feel the impact that I am a peacemaker. I pasted these seven practices on my wall; it is the first thing I read whenever I wake up from bed every morning, and the last thing I reflect before going to bed. Sometimes, it helps me to examine my conscience. I take at least ten minutes each day to reflect about peace in the world, and what to do so as to instill the pursuit of peace both in my immediate environment and surrounding region.

iii. Colonialism & Nationalism

He has a lot of reservations on these two concepts. According to him: ‘the illusion is that nationalism helps to free people, the reality is that nationalism is now the same as meditation’ at certain points, he criticized the idea of colonialism- which affected almost all the countries in Africa and also India and China. However, many people in these countries rebelled against these conditions, which led to the reign of political freedom starting from the 1950s. However, I think that these two concepts plus slavery were part of our past as Africans- third world countries ( or developing nations), and they actually helped us to grow and/or appreciate our authentic identity as a people.

iv. Imitation of Christ

I am not talking about the book: “The Imitation of Christ” written by Thomas a Kempis, a spiritual classic. Deepak Chopra is inspiring me to imitate the life of Jesus Christ epitomized in love, almsgiving and deeds of charity. His reflection on Francesco Bernardo (St. Francis of Assisi) was legendary. I am deeply inspired that this author is a spiritual hero. He took time to analyze the love of money as the root of all evil, and encouraged us to live a life of detachment, and giving out our time, talents and treasures to noble causes.

v. Terrorism

Just like me, he is against terrorism. He believed that the war on terrorism is just another permutation of violence versus violence. Terrorism is a crime against humanity.

vi. Gaining a new vision

Deepak Chopra encourages me to immerse myself in my vision. This is why I am deeply committed to my vision of leaving humanity better than I met it. I am ready to take the risks, develop the necessary skills required for achieving this purpose. My vision must keep me on the move at all times.

vii. Why God opposes war

He maintains that God opposes war because His ‘nature is peaceful, killing is a sin, human life is sacred’ here, he is talking like a consummate pro-lifer. He is simply saying that God is not happy when we engage in wars. No matter the situation or provocation, we must seek peace as the safest and only way. This pursuit of peace must be attained through nonviolent means.

3.How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This book actually seduced my thoughts and gave me new insights over things I have never thought. We can get true peace by respecting our brothers, and sisters and team members and treating all human beings as equals without any discrimination. Most of the causes of tribal or ethnic wars in some parts of developing countries are caused by racism. I am encouraged to embrace tolerance, peace and conflict resolution principles.

Sometimes, the author is writing as if he is talking to people living in a utopian environment. However, his views are welcomed and highly recommended. To know God and be closer to Him, I should give up materialism, hate the sin, and yet love the sinner unconditionally. As a leader, I am a peacemaker, a beacon of light, a beacon of hope, light to my compatriots and a humanitarian at heart. So, I should try in my own capacity to make the world, though wounded by sin a better place. I have gradually achieved a degree of witnessing- living in an exemplary life of purpose, goodwill and enshrined with corporal and spiritual works of mercy. My number one goal as a leader is to inspire generations across centuries, ignoring the boundaries of time and space. I have also learned how to negotiate conflicts through peace- the answer is peaceful resolutions (allowing the parties to show respect to each other, recognize perceived injustice, believe in forgiveness, recognize values that are opposed to each other, never to talk at the heat of anger and dealing with the underlying fear through peaceful means).

War is a self-inflicted plaque, since it is self-inflicted; we are also called to end it through every way except violence. The major problem in the world now is not just bribery and corruption, but war. Hundreds of war- both physically and mentally displaced victims are dying every day and there are more than ten religious and or tribal wars around the Sub –Saharan Africa at the moment. The best approach towards ending these conflicts is personal transformation or re-orientation and embracing all the ideals of peace. I am committed to be the change that I want to see in the world.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

I was particularly inspired and kept in steady active thinking mood when I came across this saying: “no society emerges from war intact.”

I was born and raised in Nigeria; one of the populous African nations. I have never witnessed any major war in my country, but we have had once in a while internal conflicts, tribal wars, which are sometimes politically motivated such as Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta, militancy, hate campaigns, electoral violence and lots more. I have also observed that after most of these conflicts, people are left with bad memories of the unfortunate event, and this affects their behavior and worldwide most times. I can’t imagine how Nigeria would be if she goes for another civil war- that could lead to more problems and loss of lives. Certainly, this could be what the author meant by making the above powerful speech.

“If we want to change the world, we have to begin by changing ourselves.”

It is not a bad idea to form or join some peace movements, not just joining anti-war movements.

“Thinking about peace is already a powerful means to contribute to peace.”

Peace is a vision, it must grow from strength to strength. So, whenever I am thinking about peace, it means that I am already a contributor of peace.

“Peace is never achieved by working with violence or working through it.”

Violence is never a good way to reach a peaceful resolution. Many people over time have erroneously believed that peace is attainable through violence means, this is absolutely wrong. Peace is achievable through non-violent protest and talks. Peace is pursued by those that truly love divinity and advancement of humanity.

“You are potentially more powerful than any weapon.”

Yes, I believe this absolutely. There is no limit to what I can achieve through peaceful means, because I am more powerful than any destructive weapon ever produced by man.

“War is without doubt the very worst way to create change.”

I love this reflection here. Among other things, he really felt bad about the negative effect Vietnam War had on American soil, which led to the biggest mass protest for peace in American history in 1971.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Yes, I disagree with few things, but due to want of time and space, I will comment on only two ideas:

“People are ready to follow the way of peace, if only they can learn what it is.”

I don’t believe this point, because I know there are many people who actually understand the concept of peace, yet they are adamant to follow it.

“The way of peace isn’t a revolution.”

I don’t agree with him here, because bringing peaceful talks and negotiations in a conflict-stricken environment will bring unimaginable peace- that activity is already a revolution. Creating peace through non-violent means is a revolutionary approach. This thought by Deepak Chopra is not impressive enough.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No; however, I love the appendix part of this book, it was a perfect summary of the entire work. while going through, I was feeling like someone going through the entire book.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I think one of the questions should have been whether the author lived or is living out the principles he talked about in the book. However, the author is a peaceful person, because in many occasions, he talked about peaceful revolutions he brought to situations he met. Also, he cited many examples of why bringing peace to a conflict-stricken environment is a noble thing to do- all these were really inspiring.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were its contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Before You Quit Your Job

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This book was motivated by Rich Dad’s philosophies of making a successful transition from being an employee to a business owner. It is a guide for established entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs like me. Robert Kiyosaki presented a comprehensive account of what he went through, both his failures and subsequently successes. He really failed so many times. But the good news is that he never gave up, he was hopeful, and worked hard and that paved way for his eventual success.

When I was going through the book, I was so happy because the author is telling me things I should do to kick-start my company, and then how to develop it. At the beginning, the road may not be so smooth, but towards the middle of the project, I will be happy that I worked on the idea in the first place. It is a nice thing reading this book at this time, though I am reading it when I have already left my job, but it offered me incentives on what to tell those who are interested in making a transition from being an employee to a successful business owner. The funniest thing is that I couldn’t lay hand on this book before quitting my job.

Nevertheless, it offered me some priceless and timeless principles. The book is not just talking about how to quit your job, but how to be a successful entrepreneur. Thinking that it is a book that teaches you solely how to quit your job is solely misleading. All through the book, I see Robert talking about how to be a successful entrepreneur, things you should do, and things you should avoid. He was able to drive his message home through the “10 real-life lessons every entrepreneur should know about building a multimillion-dollar business.”

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

After reading this book, I was deeply amazed at his deep analysis of entrepreneurship. As someone aspiring to pursue a new venture, I found this book very priceless. Let me talk about these seven ideas that inspired me most:

i. He had an entrepreneurial dad

I discovered that all through the Rich Dad’s series I have read, Robert keep on telling us stories about growing up in Hawaii, and how he failed in his first business at a tender age of nine, and how he quickly learnt from his failures. He told us about his two dads; the first time he said he has two dads; I was imagining if there is a possibility of one person having two biological dads. However, he didn’t stop at that. He explained it in clear terms. He went ahead to tell us that one is his own biological dad (poor dad), he was a government employee, then the second one is a dad with an entrepreneurial mindset (rich dad) this man served as his mentor in the business world. The teachings of both men were unique in his life- at least; he knows the real difference between a rich man and a poor man. I saw the book as a teaching from his financial mentor- the rich dad.

ii. Fear of making mistakes

Robert was really concerned that most entrepreneurs are afraid of making mistakes. I have found out over time that due to fear of failing, some people don’t try anything at all. Not trying anything at all is even the worst thing to do. He says that employees are paid not to make mistakes. As an employee, if you keep making mistakes, you risk getting fired or your employee would say that you don’t know the job. Most employees who do this forget that learning from mistakes helps us to learn and grow. He cited instances with Thomas Edison, who conducted an experiment over a thousand times. If he had given up on any of those experiments, probably we will still be sitting in the dark till date. While employees are paid never to make mistakes, an entrepreneur on the other hand learns from the mistakes of others. He spiced his teachings by giving us examples from the teachings of Steve Jobs, Ford and Edison.

iii. Work for free

He championed the view that before you actually succeed as an entrepreneur, you really need to understand the importance of working for free. According to him, we should stop thinking like employees, always desiring that steady pay check. I have volunteered and worked for free jobs; I wasn’t really looking for the money, but the experience. I think the author is right here. When you work for free, you will gain some real-experience with expert real-workers in the field. I have discovered that when I make mistakes, I learn from my mistakes, I horn my skills the more.

iv. Join a network marketing company

Earlier before now, I didn’t believe in network marketing. One of my friends whom I admire a lot told me that network marketing company is a selfish business and that I shouldn’t venture into it. That the person at the helm of affairs will like you to be working hard, simply because he/ she will like to be climbing the ladder of success based on your efforts. He/ she will be feasting on your hard work. He /she may not really be doing so to help you out. While this is not totally out of place, reading this book gave me another incentive about network marketing. He took time to explain his points that joining a network marketing firm will help you to learn the principles of relationship selling and essentials of sales cycle. He says that the hands- on experience you will get are priceless.

After reading this book, I took time to interview two people I know who are network marketers around my area- to my amazement, I observed that they are not just rich or highly motivated, but they are avid marketers. One even told me that the experience he is getting from network marketing is far better than a mere college course on financial management or marketing.

v. Fail faster

According to Robert Kiyosaki, his rich dad once told him: ‘if you don’t fail faster, you will fail anyway I understand with him that as an aspiring entrepreneur, i am in the middle of a learning process. So, it is possible that I can make mistakes, but the good news is that the faster I make the mistake, the better for me, because the more I make the mistake, the more I will learn, and get to the other side of the limelight. But the worst thing that can happen to me is to quit. I should keep on training my body and mind towards actualizing the goals I have set for myself.

Taking an instance with learning to ride a bicycle he says: “be willing to crash and burn- to fail over, and over and over again-until you get it right.” This is part of the reason why I am recommending this book to anyone that is desirous of becoming an entrepreneur.

It is a handbook that should be read over and over again. The advice is indeed priceless. The book is Robert Kiyosaki’s personal philosophy of business success, overcoming obstacles and doubts through entrepreneurial mindset and careful planning.

vi. Three Kinds of Money

He indentified three kinds of money as: Competitive money; Cooperative money, and

Spiritual money. In his view, one of the ways to become richer faster with less risk is to be cooperative and earn cooperative money.

Let me explain things of how I understand in this analysis:

Competitive money- most people work for competitive money, because competition is the survival of the fittest. He didn’t like this idea of money making, because in this chain of survival called life, people compete for virtually everything.

Cooperative money- the richest, wealthiest entrepreneurs build their business through cooperation or collaboration. They develop into great team leaders and do amazing things. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I am encouraged to learn how to develop this type of money.

Spiritual money- according to him, spiritual money goes beyond forming a church or charity. It is all about doing a job, not because you want to do it, but because it must be done and you know in the deepest part of your heart that you are the only person that is supposed to do it. If you neglect to do it, your mind will not be at rest. Overall, his analysis on those kinds of money unlike his analysis of three kinds of income; ordinary, portfolio, and passive income were comprehensive and inspirational. Finally, at the end of this book, I learned how to spend money wisely.

vii. Four types of Business Schools

This book taught me that there are four types of Business Schools. This is my first time of learning about this. He described the four schools as:

Traditional Business Schools- these are accredited colleges and universities that provide degree programs such as MBA program or other kinds of certification programs. In some countries in Africa, i have seen people calling it ‘graduate finishing programs’

Family Business Schools- this is a Business School where we can get a free business education from a or group of business moguls. For instance, if I am the son or a brother to any of these multi-billion business moguls- Donald Trump, Bill Gates, Marc Zuckerberg, Robert Kiyosaki, Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Mike Adenuga, Jimoh Ibrahim and so on. I can actually be schooled on family business programs, and the amazing thing is that I will get these business secrets free of charge most often. I am in love with this type of business school; the sole aim is to coach the recipient to continue to create generational wealth for the family business. Here, you will be coached by a real-world entrepreneur (a rich dad) so to speak.

Corporate Business School-this is according to Robert Kiyosaki, the type of school where the student goes for an interim program like internship- the sole objective is to enhance their career development and gets hands-on experience.

Business Schools of the street- according to his analysis, this is the type of business school that entrepreneurs attend especially when they have left the four walls of either the school, family or the corporate world. This is the school that brings me face-to-face with personal self-doubt and greatest fears.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

Just like I said before, I see this book as a guide as someone who is desiring to be an entrepreneur. It is obvious that the job market is in shambles. There is high rate of unemployment and overseas outsourcing. Entrepreneurship seems to be the only way out. I am encouraged to use my skills and talents to create amazing future both for myself and my generation.

Robert Kiyosaki asked so many thought-provoking questions like: ‘do you have a million-dollar idea? Are you afraid of failing? Are you tired of making other people rich? Are you sick of taking orders from your boss? Are you tired of working hard and getting ahead? Are you ready to take a leap of faith and change your life?

By these questions, I see him talking to me, because my honest answer to all these questions is a big “Yes.” The Ideas he gave me all through the book will enable me to be a successful entrepreneur. He called them “10 lessons” but through these lessons, he was able to touch a lot of things or fundamental things I should always bear in mind as an entrepreneur.

Indeed, some points mentioned here were exceptionally powerful. I have tried to synthesize them when i was talking about the seven ideas that were most important to me.

However, i can still say few other things. He encouraged me never to limit myself with excuses, and he even encouraged me to start with nothing just like some of the top entrepreneurs of the day did. His idea is that I should keep on learning, attending to business and entrepreneurship conferences, workshops, learning how to sell or market my products, and having a mission statement is highly priceless. He described the hardest part as getting started, but maintained that I should start anyway. Thanks for sharing your ideas with the world through this book; I have truly learnt a lot.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

Robert Kiyosaki made so many invaluable quotes. Due to want of time and space, I am going to list only eight of them.

“The number one skill of an entrepreneur is their ability to sell.”

He took time to coach me on the secrets of selling, and how to sell more. So, I actually know things to do so as to increase sales.

“So, before quitting your job, know that your most important job is to develop yourself. If you will dedicate yourself to becoming a great entrepreneur, you will find it easier to find great people who will become members of your team.”

What I learned here, is the importance of developing myself. Thus, i am doing all I could to develop myself.

“Entrepreneurs are different, and one of those differences is the ability to operate sanely and intelligently without money…so, another difference between employees and entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurs need to know how to spend money, even if they have no money.”

All through the book, Robert took time to inform me how to operate without money, and to spend money prudently.

“The reason there are many employees than entrepreneurs is simply because our school train young people to become employees. That is why; so many parents say to their children, go to school so you can get a good job. I am yet to hear any parent say, go to school so you can become an entrepreneur.”

Since most school train people only to get job, not necessarily to create jobs for themselves, I am poised to open an institution that will train employees to be highly productive at work, and then train as many entrepreneurs as possible.

“There are different parts of putting a business deal together: finding the right people, finding the right opportunity and finding the right money.”

As an aspiring entrepreneur, it is clear that if i work with the right team, strike at the right opportunity and then find the right money, success will all be mine.

“Knowing when to introduce a product into the marketplace is as much an art as it is a science.”

I should know when to introduce a product into the market. Robert described it as an art as well as a science.

“Real entrepreneurs know there is so much to know and so much they do not know that they cannot afford the luxury of specialization. That is why their cup must always be empty. They must always be learning.”

Learning is a continuous process. So, as an aspiring and even an established entrepreneur, i must keep learning, so that I will keep on breaking new grounds, and continue to raise the bar of excellence.

“Design your product and its price for a very special customer. Your marketing should then find ways of reaching that special customer. Be creative. Don’t be cheap.”

As an aspiring entrepreneur, I should know that my products are made for specific customers, so I should always look for those customers and then serve their needs. In all these, I need to be creative, and doesn’t need to appear very cheap.

“A smart entrepreneur focuses on keeping existing customers happy and looking for new customers to sell existing products to.”

I should be smart, and learn how to keep existing customers happy. Knowing full well that it is only when i keep them happy that they will keep coming back, and keep referring my services to their associates.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

On several occasions in the book, I saw Robert Kiyosaki repeating himself; repeating ideas he has already talked about over and over again. However, i am consoled because the ideas are centered on planning, launching and growing a multimillion-dollar business.

But I was thinking that he could have talked more on how to be successfully self-employed rather than laying more emphasis on growing a big business. In his view, self-employed people are underachievers and this is a faulty argument, because he forgot to understand that most of the big time investors and entrepreneurs of the present day civilization including himself actually started as self-employed professionals. Despite my reservations, I wish to state clearly that I am his big fan. I am already following his advice as a blueprint in building my own company. As an aspiring entrepreneur, i am not just looking for profit, but for a mission, a higher calling.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No; there were no exercises for to the reader to complete.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I have actually read some books written by this world-class investor and entrepreneur, Robert Kiyosaki. I have also listened to some of his CD’s. I have been following his latest thoughts on social media, so I can say that I have been impressed by his entrepreneurial skills and mentorship. I discovered something amazing about his writing; anytime he is discussing an idea he had mentioned in any of his earlier book, he will just paraphrase the idea for you. so that if you haven’t read the earlier book, you will get an idea or basic concepts of the book. This to me is a wonderful thing that should be encouraged. As a writer, i should learn how to connect my books with each other, so that those who haven’t read it will get a little of it. Overall, this is an excellent book. Robert is a persuasive writer. He persuades his readers to be avid entrepreneurs. If I have more time, I will read this book over and over again.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Real Leaders Don’t Follow by Steve Tobak

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

We are living in a highly competitive business world- both first-time, aspiring and well established entrepreneurs are facing challenges based on their mission, focus and expertise. Thus, Steve Tobak gives new insights that will enable each organization to confront those challenges and be successful. Going through the book helped me to make certain informed decisions about my start up human capital development consulting firm. Citing from personal experiences, he shared with his readers amazing stories of how he left his job after climbing to the corporate ladder 23 years after to kick-start his own management consulting business. He was tired of working for someone. He was tired of going to all the board meetings, all the conflicts and all the politics that goes with working for someone. He told us stories of how he started with basically nothing to lead an extraordinary life on his own terms, a life he never dreamed possible. This book gives the reader a comprehensive worldview on entrepreneurship and leadership. Personally, this book is life-transforming, it teaches me how to survive and make my mark in a highly competitive global market.

By writing this book, Steve Tobak is committed to building a new generation of business leaders and corporate executives. According to him: “my overreaching goal for this book was to provide unique insights from an insider perspective, to help you make better informed career, business and leadership decisions.

Though, I didn’t quite agree to most of his submissions in this book, at the end of this analysis, you will see some of my own submissions. But, I think he tried to help the reader make better informed career, business and leadership decisions. He is an erudite scholar, a man talking from his vast wealth of experience and worldviews. He has good experience, and I love the way he shared it.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. Choosing the more evolved path

He described an entrepreneur as someone who has the potential to change the entire landscape for many others. That’s the unique power of an entrepreneur, an innovator, a business leader…and making the right decisions. After reading this piece, I learnt how to move from where I am at the moment to where I really want to be.

ii. He is appreciative

I discovered that Steve Tobak is good at showering gratitude to whom it is due. First, he was so happy for having worked at high-tech industry. He was even happy recommending it to anyone that cares. Next is his appreciation of his wife. He described her as ‘my sainted wife’. I have great respect for men that respects their wives. It goes a long way to prove the aphorism that behind every successful man, there is always a woman.

iii. Utopian thinking kills companies and careers

He encouraged me to listen to what other smartest and most accomplished business leaders/ entrepreneurs are saying, but to always listen to my gut and make my own decision notwithstanding.

iv. Entrepreneurship is risky business

Steve Tobak made me to understand that entrepreneurship is entirely a risky venture. So, I should try as much as possible to minimize risks by making smart decisions based on sound intelligence and experience. He inspired me to learn from failure. At least, I have heard his inspiring personal stories and am inspired by some of the ways he handled his situations. Failure in business is inevitable, but I shouldn’t dwell on it if I fail, instead I should learn from it.

v. Your product is your brand

He encouraged me and even showed me ways to build a solid reputation; the only way to do this is by doing great work, by providing unique services to my clients. He made me to understand that when people hire my services, they are actually doing that for what I can do for them- they are paying for my products and services- they are not giving me money to squander, but to compliment the services I am giving to them. No matter how I try to portray myself online, if I fail to deliver in the real world, then my reputation and brand will be worthless.

I am inspired to spend quality time on my product’s development, networking, posting updates, tweeting online- all these are part of the things that hold people back from making useful impact. My sole objective should be to develop products that customers would be happy to buy.

vi. Making your own luck

According to him: “successful entrepreneurs and executives make their own luck. And they do it by embracing the chaos of the real world.” I need to be open to my instincts, trust my judgments, take the bull by the horn, confront the hurricane forces or anything that holds me back. This is part of making my own luck.

However, I do not agree to what he said that I should “embrace the chaos of the real world.” I don’t need to do so, instead I can confront the chaos of the real world, because I believe I have the capacity to surmount every challenge I face.

vii. Quit wasting your time

He spoke like an efficient time manager and productivity coach. He told me to stop wasting my precious time looking for nonexistent quick fixes. I should stop procrastinating, figure out anything that I want to do, and do it rightly. Having read this piece, I have mastered the secret of focusing my mind on what is important and letting go of what is not. I drew a lot of inspiration from these seven rules which kept him on track:

Focus on your goals and priorities; Know yourself; Always get the work done; Love your work; Be flexible, adaptive, and creative; Work when you have to, not when you don’t, and Take care of yourself

Also, he encouraged me to develop these five competencies, so as to thrive and distinguish myself in this changing world: Critical thinking; Focus and discipline

Being human; Getting things done and Competitive spirit

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas in this book are indeed priceless. Steve Tobak taught me the principles of taking chances, confronting enormous challenges that stare my business or entrepreneurial lifestyle on the face- if I fail in any venture, I shouldn’t think of giving up, instead I should rise even stronger than I did previously. This is the only way I can make it big. As an entrepreneur, I should learn how to cope with desperate times or harsh economic realities. In fact, if the economy is bad, then I should learn how to work smarter. I should work in such a way so that the bad economy doesn’t affect my business.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Civilization advances when unique individuals who think and act differently shatter the status quo and forever change how we do things.”

As an emerging entrepreneur, I should learn how to shatter the status quo. Making progress in my dreams doesn’t start and end with following the status quo, but also changing the course of things.

“In the business world, everyone should be viewed as an individual and personal decisions should be based entirely on meritocracy. That is how effective leaders manage their teams, and smart executives run their companies. It’s a common sense.”

As a business leader, I should welcome the contributions of my team members; I should be smart and learn how to manage my team effectively and productively.

“In business as in culture, things change. Some things change because they should. Some things change even though they shouldn’t change isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary.”

When I am in a management position, I am expected to make an impact, change the status quo to better. I have learnt now that making impact is part of my commitment and goals as a business leader.

“Entrepreneurship is about leading, not following the herd, it is about doing what you think is right, not what everyone else is doing. It’s about getting out and experiencing the real business world, not talking and reading about it.”

I understand that real entrepreneurs are leaders, they are moving trains- they are solution providers, they are always seeking to solve problems. They are not problem creators. As an entrepreneur that is desirous of leaving a lasting legacy on the sands of time, I can break conventional rules.

“When you take control of your destiny, you take on enormous risk and responsibility. You are in a real sense, putting yourself and your future on the line.”

Now that I want to take control of my destiny, I should be careful the choices I make, because they can make or mar me. The author is telling me to be aware of this at all times.

“There is nothing romantic about being your own boss. You should never make career decisions lightly.”

Before I move into a new career, I should take time to scrutinize the decisions I am about to make- I should do this carefully. That is the principle I am gaining from this statement.

“The only way to move forward is to figure out what’s holding you back and deal with it.”

As an entrepreneur, I should learn how to deal with anything that hold me back. It could be my own limitations or external factors. The best thing to do is to deal with it. Steve also drove his point home by saying that: “in business, as in life, understanding what is holding you back and keeping you from achieving your goal is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. The truth can only be found by looking inside ourselves,” when I figure out what is holding me back and deal with it squarely, then I can go forward.

“Successful people don’t do things halfway. They are not timid. They go all in, take huge risks and fight like hell to win. And sometimes, they lose big.”

As an entrepreneur, I shouldn’t do things halfway and expect an amazing result. I should take big risks- sometimes risks beyond my wildest imaginations. I should keep trying my best and have the mindset that I got nothing to lose.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Although, I admire the author’s intellectual prowess, and entrepreneurial ingenuity, I still have a lot of reservations about his writings. Let me just explain few of them:

“There is really no entrepreneurial movement. It’s a myth, a fad, a fairy tale, a complete fabrication.” I think this argument is not logical enough, it needs some remodeling, because even as am writing now, I can see a lot of entrepreneurial movements rising from different parts of the world, even in developing countries. Countries like US and UK are making various efforts to fine-tune the entrepreneurial mindsets of some people especially from the developing countries. Secondly, entrepreneurs are moving from one stage of excellence to another through dint of hard work, self-reliance and professional pursuits and/or acquisitions.

“Leaders lead. Followers follow. You can’t be both. Real leaders don’t follow, and neither do real entrepreneurs. I always have problem with this title ‘Real Leaders don’t follow.” Nobody becomes a leader in isolation. You must be reading some inspiring stories of leaders and entrepreneurs. You must learn from their ideas, because no one has a monopoly of knowledge. Learning is a continuous process, so no one would say he is isn’t learning- every leader learns, every leader has more things to learn from life. Life is larger than logic as they say. So, when Steve Tobak said that real leaders don’t follow, I couldn’t understand him. We are in the age of massively technological revolution. So, every passing day, entrepreneurial leaders have more to learn from life, and that is why leaders keep following each other, continuously networking and learning. I have attended some conferences organized for effective leaders- leaders drawn from all walks of life came and even learnt few insightful stories they didn’t know from each other- that is the joy of learning from each other. Nobody knows it all. So, in this case, real leaders follows, real entrepreneurs follows, but there is a clause there. They don’t follow each other sheepishly. They harness the ideas they hear and examine them thoroughly before following. That is my take.

Steve Tobak made so many statements which I wasn’t comfortable with, like referring Gil Amelia as “a pompous ass.” On another analysis, he said that the effect phone is “having on our behavior is alarming, and far-reaching. We are becoming more entitled and less empathetic, more disassociated and less organized, more anarchistic, and less civilized, more impulsive, and less thoughtful, more distracted and less focused. And we are losing our ability to discern fact from fiction, truth from lies, and real insights from complete bullshit.” I don’t believe that having a phone has made humanity to be less civilized, more impulsive, more disassociated and less focused. I agree it has made some people more anarchistic, more distracted.

He kept on mentioning “VCs” all through the book, assuming that the reader knows the meaning, but he didn’t take time to explain it. I think that was an oversight.

He said: ‘inspiration doesn’t come from outside you. It comes from inside. It comes from your emotions, your passion. That’s what drives you. That’s what inspires you’- I don’t believe his view totally. Inspiration is a two way process- it can come from outside and inside. Talking from my personal experience, I have always being inspired by my innermost passion, and also by reading and hearing amazing stories of people who rose from nothingness to something. So, I have not only being inspired by the inside factors, but also by external factors. That is why I say, it is a two way process.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Not really. There are no exercises for the reader. I was so happy the way he ends each chapter. He is a good analyst, he is a good writer. How I wish there were some exercises for the reader. I would have being happy doing so.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

Currently, I think the questions asked captured all the basic things about the book, though I think a little should be asked about the author’s background, profile, experiences and so on. I feel these questions are necessary, because our experiences shape our writing and the way we live, since nobody speaks from nowhere. Our worldviews must one way or the other form our thought.

Meanwhile, I have add the book as one of the materials I will be reading at my leisure so as to enhance my entrepreneurial skills. If I have further questions, I will never hesitate to email the author for more explanations. I see him as a simple fellow. – I think he will be happy to attend to my questions. I hope to engage him in future as my business partner, since he is deeply engrossed in management consulting- one of the areas I am passionate about.

The author did not write like a physicist. I was awed when I discover he holds a first degree in Physics and capped it with another masters in Electrical Engineering all from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. No formal or strong academic training on Business, leadership or entrepreneurship, yet he writes like a good business person, he writes like a consummate entrepreneur, and seasoned leader. He is a managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based management consulting firm founded in 2003. Reading this book, I can see how he relates with his clients. This is his first book, it is a great attempt. I believe that subsequent writings would be much better.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

This is an amazing book written by a global leader and human capital expert, John Maxwell. I have not read the first edition, but I have heard a lot about it earlier before now. However, by reading this book I can get an idea or have the feelings of the things he wrote in the first edition. I am happy the way he tried to modify some of his thoughts. It is obvious John Maxwell believes that learning is a continuous process- as he continues to share new things he learnt as he advances in age and experience.

As a student of Global leadership, I see the book not just as an introduction to leadership development, but a book that contains some of the essential tools every leader should have. When I learn and apply them into my life, I will achieve my dreams as well as add value to people’s lives. In this case, people will gladly follow me.

John Maxwell has really proved that he is a top expert on leadership issues- he has over thirty years of leadership experience and this is really amazing. He is a game-changer and he has been able to change people’s lives through these 21 irrefutable laws.

He was able to reflect the successes and failures of most leaders in the world of religion, sports, politics, business and so on- he was able to succinctly deliver his findings successfully. I was impressed with his deep analysis- they were very thorough.

These 21 irrefutable laws are:

The law of the lid- leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness

The law of influence- the true measure of leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less.

The law of process- leadership develops daily, not in a day.

The law of navigation- anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

The law of addition- leaders add value by serving others.

The law of solid ground- trust is the foundation of leadership.

The law of respect- people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.

The law of intuition- leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.

The law of magnetism-who you are, is who you attract.

The law of connection-leaders touch a heart, before they ask for a hand.

The law of the inner circle-a leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.

The law of empowerment-only secure leaders give power to others.

The law of the picture-people do what people see.

The law of the buy-in-people buy into the leader, then the vision.

The law of victory-leaders find a way for the team to win.

The law of the big Mo-Momentum is a leader’s best friend.

The law of priorities-leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.

The law of sacrifice-a leader must give up to go up.

The law of timing-when to lead is as important as what to do and where to go

The law of explosive growth-to add growth, lead followers- to multiply, lead leaders

The law of legacy-a leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.

In fact, when I picked this book, I couldn’t stop reading it, till the last chapter. John Maxwell challenges the reader; telling us how to transform ourselves from where we are at the moment to where we need to be.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

After reading this book, I went out to meet some leaders I know around me mainly on social networks- about six of them. I told them to recommend to me 20 books every aspiring leader should read, because I was so passionate to read more books on leadership. I know very well that many leadership books and articles are springing up each day. To my amazement, 5 of them said that I should read 21 irrefutable Laws of Leadership. One even told me that he has not just chewed this book, but he has digested its principles- that he was able to achieve most of his successes simply by reading this amazing literary material. I have over 20 ideas that formed (and are still forming) my thoughts after reading this book, but due to want of time and space. I will try as much as possible to streamline them into seven- so as to do justice to the question also. Since I have up to 20 ideas, let me state the first 7 points:

i. The law of the lid- leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness

When I was reading this chapter, I remember what one of my professor in the high institution used to say when he wants to advise us in the classroom. He will always say that the higher you go in life, the more vulnerable becomes, and the more we should take responsibility of our actions. At one point he made this ever memorable saying: “my dear students, never allow your past to destroy your present so that your future does not suffer.” I always remember this whenever I am dealing with anyone.

John Maxwell comes with a consoling piece that we need more leadership to climb the ladder of success and create a lasting impact on the sands of time. That is why I am ever committed to increase my level of effectiveness both in my family and society at large. I want to leave footprints that points to hard work, productivity and enhancing people’s effectiveness. Thus, I am very much interested in raising the lid- in one way or the other. This law helps me to appreciate the true value of leadership and why it is exceedingly important in all aspect of my life.

ii. The law of influence- the true measure of leadership is influence-nothing more, nothing less.

He accused Abraham Lincoln of being a casualty of the law of influence, and asked the reader never to be one. He made it very clear that as a leader, I should understand this law and build it around me, because if I don’t do so, it will be difficult for me to lead others.

Quoting Harry A. Overstreet, he said: “the very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate.” This reminded me of one popular saying that goes this way: “if you are a leader, and no one is following you, you are only taking a walk.”

Almost in the same affirmation, John Maxwell says: “if no one is following you, you are not a leader. The law of influence is about obtaining followers.” As a leader, I will only have followers if am very useful to them- so, it lies on me now to make a lasting influence in the life of people- whoever I meet, I should have a memorable positive influence on them- I should leave a good mark on them.

iii. The law of process – leadership develops daily, not in a day.

I was happy when John Maxwell admitted that he learns new leadership principles every day. This is a welcome development. It shows that nobody has an epitome of knowledge. If at his level, he is still learning, then I should have no option not to be learning. I understood from him that there is no “day traders” in leadership development. It is not something you learn in a day. It is something that we keep learning over a period of time.

The learning process is ongoing, and that is why he described successful leaders as learners. My daily goal should be to get better on yesterday’s learning process. It requires self-discipline, perseverance and dedication. It takes a lifetime to be a successful leader.

iv. The law of navigation- anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.

To be a successful leader, John Maxwell walked me through the process of law of navigation- and told me the best way of navigating the course for my followers. As a leader, my attention is highly needed especially in critical times where I will be required to plan initiatives for my organization. Thus, I need to be highly proactive and motivated so as to spot obstacles, or challenges that could have a negative toll on my organization- and then address them in a professional way. I should also confront major barriers to careful planning such as lack of initiative or imagination, ignorance, uncertainty about the future and fear of change.

v. The law of addition – leaders add value by serving others

I am always comfortable when I see leaders that serve others- not the other way round. As a leader, when my team is not doing the real things expected of them- instead of verbally abusing them. I should use the opportunity to serve and help them, because they need to grow, they need to learn too. I should be doing everything possible to make life easy for those I lead. As a leader, my profit should lie solely in making others become more successful. This is the principle John Maxwell wants me to emulate. I am inspired to give up abusing people for whatever reason, and then replace it with listening, learning and leading people in a mature way.

vi. The law of solid ground- trust is the foundation of leadership.

As a leader, I should earn the trust of my team, friends and family so that they can confide in me regarding sensitive issues. People should trust me. I should keep to my words. I should shun gossiping with people’s names, or using derogatory words on them- this is the basics of the law of solid ground.

vii. The law of respect – people naturally follow leader stronger than themselves.

Benjamin Franklin says that: “the handshake of the host affects the taste of the roast.” As a leader, I should build respect so that I can command good respect and followership. Some people told me that I have a personality that easily drawn people towards me- I should use this skill very well, and that is why (according to them) they and many other people are easily attracted to me. I should learn how to show respect and loyalty to my team. I should take some personal risks and courageous decisions that can positively affect my followers, even if I do not benefit anything from it.

This reminds me about the personality of Jesus Christ, who came that we may have life and have it in abundance (John 10: 10) and to give His life as a ransom for many. As a leader, I should always add value by serving others- this will make me a better leader.

Also, here I am reminded of a quote attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta that the “measure of love is to love without measure.” When I show my followers love in the truest sense of it, I will build respect for myself. Love goes with “letting off various evils” loving people and making them feel loved at all times. When I do these things, my team will be happier, develop more, achieve more and get things right in many ways than I can ever imagine.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This is an awesome book. The ideas both the ones I have described above and many more I couldn’t explain due to want of time and space are priceless. Having gone through this book, I am now better equipped to lead my team. I am better equipped to set up a human capital consulting firm and training school. I am very excited that I am reading this book at the time I want to set up my team of employees to my business. The principles will help me to get the right people, inspire them, and give them the enabling environment to thrive.

I now know what it means to be bold, and make unique impacts. I have learned some principles that will help me to improve in certain areas. In fact, the more I read this book, the more I learn. John Maxwell dictated to me the laws I should follow to get people follow me, and things I should never do. He cited instances from so many people- he showed them those who have made breakthroughs with these laws, and those who have ignored these rules, and then failed woefully. Reading John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws reinforces some of the things I know about leadership. He explained them in a more simplified way, and he encouraged me to put these principles into practice on a daily basis.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Leadership requires the ability to do more than one thing.”

Leadership is a complex issue. It is not one thing. I cannot live up to the whole responsibility of leadership- I cannot do everything, I need to delegate my team to handle some tasks. I should equip them with all the tools they need and at the same time trust their judgment. Thus, as a leader, developing a productive leadership team should be one of my utmost priorities.

“But the principles of leadership are constant-whether you are looking at the citizens of ancient Greece, the Hebrews in the old testament, the armies of the modern world, the leaders in the international community, the pastors in local churches or the business people of today’s global economy. Leadership principles are unchanging and stand the test of time.”

He is telling me that the principles of leadership is one, unchanging and stands the test of time, so I should always be aware of this fact. Once I am following the laid down leadership rules, then I am actually leading.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

Honestly, this book is different from most leadership books I have read- he changed my worldviews on so many things. He told me both the things I need to be successful, and also areas where most popular leaders have failed overtime. He is a good story teller- story telling is also a skill I want to master. A good story teller is always a creative person.

I will not say that there are things I want to criticize or do not understand, but I would say that there are few things I wish to remark here. This revised and updated edition was indeed more unique and thought-provoking. I was happy to learn he included two new laws into this 10th anniversary edition they are:

The law of addition – leaders add value by serving others, and The law of the picture – people do what people see.

He actually included things he missed on the first edition (this also explains why I said in the first question that reading this particular edition gives me an idea of the things he wrote in the first edition). John Maxwell believes that “serving others and showing others the way are two critical components of successful leadership.” John Maxwell told me some of the laws some popular leaders violated, and also told me how successful they could have been, if they did not violate such laws. In fact, it was interesting reading this book.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, the book contained a lot of exercises. At the end of each law, he shows us some practical strategies that will help us to reflect and grow our leadership skills. I completed all of them on a different paper and was able to read them over and over again, and I was so happy I did. Each point was unique; he addresses a problem and also proffers solution. As I read and answer these questions, I discovered that I am already practicing the principles of leadership effectively. I believe so much that these exercises are designed to enable me apply each law to my life. Having completed these exercises, I can now say that I have developed the skills that will enable me to mentor others, I now know some areas I should target – areas I should form strategic partnership with the right people and organizations.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

I read this book critically, yet I found it difficult to criticize the author. This book is filled with amazing self assessments. I can say that 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is an insightful piece for aspiring leaders and business people like me. It teaches the reader about the inspiring stories of fortune 500 companies and global leaders that have germinated, failed or stumbled over time- I see this book as a guide towards achieving leadership possibilities. The author has succeeded in teaching me to how to relate with life- and how to be successful amidst the hurricane forces and stumbling blocks we encounter daily.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 10



Good Leaders Ask Great Questions

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

New York Bestselling author and Global leadership expert, John Maxwell states that: “asking questions” is one thing I can do to revolutionize my leadership and accelerate professional and personal growth.

He used a lot of illustrations, anecdotes and personal experiences to buttress the fact that: “Good leaders ask great questions.” He challenges the reader to master the art of asking questions, using them to learn and grow, connect with people, challenge himself, improve his team and develop better ideas.

This book has taught me the relevant questions I should ask myself as a leader, as well as the questions I should be asking my team. He told the reader an amazing story of how he invited people from around the world, who asked him series of leadership questions. He was able to answer seventy of them including:

What are the top skills required to lead people through difficult times?

How do I get started in leadership?

How do I motivate an unmotivated person?

How can I succeed working under poor leadership?

When is the right time for a successful leader to move on to a new position?

How do you move people into your inner circle?

I am not a seasoned or established leader yet, I am just a new comer in the field of leadership. This book has ended up changing my overall perspective at the way I look at questions- I have now known that asking series of useful questions to the right people can actually improve my leadership lifestyle. I have now discovered why most leaders are facing toughest problems in their organizations; the reason is because they don’t sometimes examine the people they ask those questions. This book is thorough, thoughtful, insightful, and provides useful advice that will help the reader to achieve ultimate potential. John Maxwell in this voluminous work addressed a lot of social and public policy issues. It is not possible for one to read this book without getting any value from it. I also loved the path where John Maxwell reflected about his life as a Christian and pastor for many years. It can be a fascinating experience to serve God.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. The more questions I ask, the more valuable I recognize them to be

For forty years, John Maxwell has spent time asking questions in the field of leadership- amazingly, he has received thousands of answers. He referred to them as wise counsel and insightful answers. The more questions I ask, the more I know, the more I gain new perspectives. The more questions I ask, the more my IQ increases. This is a book that I will keep referring to people all the times. This section awakens the Socratic and critical thinking methodology in me, which aims at searching and finding real meaning in life. Critical thinking remains a veritable tool of re-constructing and re-directing our minds. This book is highly provocative. He challenges me to start asking great questions. As a journalist also, I find this section helpful, the more I read the more I learn how to tactfully ask people more thought-provoking questions.

John Maxwell believes that if I keep asking questions, it will be easy for me to harness the power of my team- I will know more about their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. As a leader, I should be ready to answer questions from my teams. This remains one of the best ways I can really tap from them.

ii. What questions do I ask myself as a leader?

As a leader, I should be asking myself useful questions daily, this will make my team better, add value to them and promote teamwork. I should be concerned with not only getting people to work hard, but getting them to work smarter towards achieving the organization’s goals and corporate objectives. Borrowing a leaf from the philosopher, Socrates who said that an unexamined life is not worth living, he added that the unexamined leader is not worth following. Asking myself the right questions will help me to remain on track.

iii. What questions do I ask my team members?

I should ask my team the right questions; I will be missing a lot if I fail to do so. According to him, the questions I ask my team should inspire them to dream more, think more, learn more, do more, and become more. Some of the questions he said I should be asking my team at intervals are:

What do you think? How can I serve you? What do I need to communicate? Did we exceed expectations? What did you learn? Did we add value? How do we maximize this experience? What do I need to know? How do we make the most of this opportunity?

How are the members? What am I missing? He used a wide range of timely quotes, anecdotes and amazing stories to illustrate each of these questions, and they were very helpful.

iv. What must I do to lead myself successfully?

While answering some of the questions he gathered from the social media, particularly from twitter, facebook, and over four thousand John Maxwell team certified coaches, he said that: ‘if you can’t lead yourself effectively, everything else in your life will be a struggle’ to lead myself successfully, he told me to identify the common and destructive blind spots and deal with them effectively. The blind spot are:

A singular perspective

Insecurity- insecure teachers think of themselves first, they take more from their followers than they give.

An out-of-control ego, and

Weak character

I can overcome these blind spots by:

Assuming that I have them- because not believing that I have a blind spot is already a blind spot.

Asking my team, coaches, mentors, and all those who know me to identify my blind spots. If they are honest, they will tell me many things that I am not even seeing about myself.

Assuming that others can help me to remove those blind spots.

Openly discussing these blind spots with my close allies or inner circle- that is people who care about me, and who are ever willing to lend me a helping hand, and finally

Developing, empowering or inspiring my team to cover my blind spots.

Thus, just like the example he gave about Mahatma Gandhi while speaking for Indian

independence at the British Parliament, my actions, feelings, thoughts and values should be in alignment. These will help me to lead myself successfully. All my decisions should base on principles and values I believe in.

v. How does leadership work?

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” As a leader, I must know how to influence my subjects. Leadership is a key that will enable me to build my teams, grow my organization and fulfill my visions.

He told me a story of how he organized his first leadership conference, and only seventeen people showed up, the second one was poorly attended to too, because people felt he was already a leader, so why will he be organizing a leadership conference?

It is important to note here that John Maxwell believed that leadership is developed, not discovered, although some people are born with leadership traits, but those natural traits are only the beginning. He believes that leadership don’t just start, it is a process. People start out as babies, and grow to become adequate, then good, then great leaders. He identified three essential components in the development of a leader as follows:

Environment: incarnation of leadership

Exposure: inspiration for leadership

Equipping: intention for leadership.

Leadership is influence. My desire to influence others should be higher than everything else. Leadership is all about adding value to people’s lives, listening to their stories, asking questions, making their agendas my utmost priority, believing in them, discussing how to accomplish their visions, creating plans that fits them and so on. I am inspired to be a serving leader, not a self-serving leader. As a serving leader, I should help them develop wonderful plans, help them make good choices, value and promote teamwork, and give them hope. I have given it as a task to continually invest in myself, developing the skills that will make me an effective leader. I do all these by reading lots of leadership books, articles, blogs, and attending to insightful leadership conferences.

vi. How do I get started in leadership?

I need to earn trust before people will buy into my vision. I should earn that through character and competence. And to demonstrate these, he asked me to begin with the basics:

Work hard. People respects those who work hard or who work smart; I love working smart, than just working hard.

Think ahead; my decisions affects my team

Demonstrate excellence- I should be better at my job.

Follow through; good leaders complete their projects on time and on budget.

Care about the people I lead

Makes things right

Tell the truth

All these and many more have helped me to add value to my team and organizations and then connect with others. I like connecting with people, this helps me to learn from them and also be able to inspire them.

vii. How do I resolve conflict and lead challenging people?

I love this part so much because, some of the challenging tasks leaders face are resolving conflict and leading challenging people, but he has answer for me: “sometimes, the greatest value a leader can add to other people comes through telling them the truth, showing them where they can grow, and then helping them change.”

He is saying that I should fire those who are not suitable to my team, because keeping them may have a negative influence on my team. Before I finally decided to kick-start my entrepreneurial desire, I have worked with some organizations both in online and offline platforms- sometimes, I see some team members who are not suitable for the organization- because they don’t have the needed skills, yet they keep retaining their jobs, mostly due to the steady pay check. Sometimes the owners of such organizations may not be aware of this, or may have deaf ears when you tell them about it.

Some of them even go to extent of dragging the team down with their actions knowingly or unknowingly. Sometimes the hard work of other team members overshadows their incompetence. John Maxwell is asking me to fire such people who are unproductive or doesn’t share the vision of my organization.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

This book was very informative and highly interesting to read. While reading, I marked and memorized so many beautiful expressions from the author. I could not have asked for a better book on leadership and management than this. It was also garnished with timely quotes and anecdotes.

The ideas here will help me to develop a better relationship with my team. He taught me to learn how to listen, learn and lead. I am highly motivated to cultivate quality relationships, grow teams, never to be intimidated or overwhelmed by fear of the unknown. Asking the right questions will land my team into getting the right answers. I can’t wait to share my experiences in this book with my audience, friends, team and family.

I can now see reasons why some corporations ask their clients to give them reviews in the comment box- the survey helps the company to increase the quality of their products and services. John Maxwell was talking to all kinds of people in this book; entrepreneurs, leaders, employers, employees, managers, investors, pastors or religious leaders and students will find this book really helpful.

His ideas were filled with nuggets of wisdom. I am deeply committed towards achieving my organization’s success. Just like he said in the book: “if you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions.” Having gone through this book religiously, and critically, I can say that it is in line with my passion to make discoveries, disrupt the status quo and then transform my organization.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“If you want to be successful and reach your leadership potential, you need to embrace asking questions as a lifestyle”

I want to be successful as a leader, I want to make huge impact in people’s lives. So, I have understood the value of asking questions. I will keep asking questions, I will never be tired of doing so since I have just discovered its importance.

“If you want answers, you must ask questions.”

I should be willing to ask questions, so as to get the right answers.

“Successful leaders relentlessly ask questions, and have an incurable desire to pick the brains of the people they meet.”

Through asking questions, I can be able to connect with people. In another analysis, he says that: questions connect people asking questions enable me to keep a conversation lively and interesting. Asking questions remain a skill I need to develop. It helps me to learn from people.

“Any leader who asks the right questions from the right people has the potential to discover and develop great ideas.”

He quoted Thomas Edison who said that: “the ideas I use are mostly the ideas of people who don’t develop them.”

I should always strive to hang out with the right people, ask them the right question, so that I can get the right answer.

If I see a lofty idea of which someone is unwilling to develop them- once I see that such ideas will be of great help to the human condition, I can go ahead to develop them- this is what he meant when he quoted Thomas Edison, who always derives pleasure in developing ideas of people who don’t develop them.

“Good questions inform; great questions transform.”

In fact, I shouldn’t just be asking good questions, but great questions also. The title of this book should have been: “Great Leaders ask Great Questions” because most of the questions he asked were great.

“When a leader makes a bad decision; it affects not only him but many other people.”

I should be careful never to make the wrong decisions so that it doesn’t have adverse effect on my organization.

“Good leaders ask themselves questions.”

While reflecting on his lunch session with coach John Wooden, a successful coach, he encouraged me to be asking myself tough questions daily. This will make me to be proactive, maintain mu integrity, improve my leadership capacity, and increase my energy. I have now developed a list of questions I should be asking myself every day.

“The size of your dream determines the size of your investment.”

The importance of investing in myself can never be overemphasized. When I look at the size of my dream, it energizes me to work hard towards making the necessary investments.

He encouraged me to always be mindful of why I want to lead. I should lead because I want to help people know more, grow more, and be more useful to themselves, not wanting to lead because I want to help myself only.

“People who lead for selfish reasons seek power, position, money and prestige.”

He inspired me to develop three important qualities namely humility, authenticity and calling (having a purpose that is bigger than myself.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The author said: “If you begin a task with certainties, you will probably end in doubts. But if you are willing to begin with doubts, you will end in certainties.” I am not comfortable with this statement, because if you definitely begin a task with certainties (that is, you are certain or clear about your intentions), you will definitely arrive at your destination, you will never end in doubt like he said.

Secondly, he said that: “remember, you get answers only to questions you ask.” I don’t believe this view totally, because sometimes you may ask someone a question and while answering, the person may knowingly or unknowingly answer another question you have never asked or even answer another question which you may not remember to ask.

So, in that case, we can’t say that you are getting answers to questions you only asked- because you have gotten answers or more incentives to even the ones you didn’t or forgot to ask.

Thirdly, he mentioned four different personality types and asked which type am I?. He described them as follows:

The most natural leaders: choleric

The most loyal leaders: phlegmatic

The most gifted leaders: melancholic, and

The most loved: sanguine

I have a very strong issue with this analysis, because unlike him, he should have backed his submissions with strong illustrations with examples. In as much as he may be right, but I expected him to discuss it in detail, so as to satisfy the reader’s critical thinking thought.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

There were no exercises, I love the way he ends each chapter. Sometimes, he will just summarize the entire chapter with one or two sentences. I have tried to memorize some of these sentences, before moving to another chapter. His overall conclusion was awesome, simple, and straight to the point, and just one page. The book ended up asking some of the challenging questions I have been searching for its answers over the years.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No, I think the questions asked weren’t 100% perfect. However, nothing was asked about the author’s profile, background, skills and experiences. I believe that all these will help in shaping the author’s comprehensive worldview and creative writing skills, because nobody speaks from nowhere.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 10
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9



Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a very interesting book. At a point I was actually wondering if this book was real or mere fiction. The author, a former economic hit man, John Perkins is an ex member of the International Banking Community. In this inspiring literary piece, he described himself as a highly paid professional, and how he helped United States to cheat poor countries of the world out of trillions of dollars; lending them more money which they would ordinarily be unable to repay, and then tactfully taken over their economies.

This was a product of many years of intensive writing and research into the world of globalization, global politics and super diplomacy. He dedicated the book to presidents of two countries- Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Roldos of Ecuador- each of them died in fiery crashes. Just like a typical and untutored person may think that some deaths are not normal, John Perkins has reasons to believe that they were vehemently assassinated for saying no to wrong opportunities. From his research, he observed that these men opposed the fraternity of banking heads, government and corporate organizations whose sole objective is global empire. The rest is history.

John Perkins says that for an unprecedented 20 years, he was persuaded to discontinue writing this piece, but he was reinvigorated to keep writing after taking a crucial look at the recent world outbreak such as the rise of Osama Bin Laden, the first gulf war, Somalia, U.S invasion of Panama in 1980 and lots more. Because of these, he never succumbed to the threats and bribes that persuaded him to stop writing.

This book demonstrated John Perkins braveness, courage and determination to make an impact in the world. He described himself as an “Economic Hit man.” And all through the book, he tried to portray how he actually became one.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. He is patriotic

John Perkins is one of the writers that showed initially unreserved love for his country. Although, his insinuations in the book showed that he actually exhibited those traits in error. My understanding of a patriotic person is someone who shows his love for his country. He tried within his own capacity to make resources flow in his country. He wasn’t selfish. John Perkins assisted his country to build one of the strongest empires in the human race- through seducing people, cheating, and economic manipulation through a set of economic hit men, which he was very much part of it.

ii. Economic hit men

During the time he was recruited to become an economic hit man, he said that government agencies used various organizations like N .S. A and C. I .A in recruiting potential economic hit men, and then posts them to private construction companies, engineering firms and private organizations- they were working and interpreting the scripts of their masters. The aim was if they were caught, nobody will trace it to the government.

iii. The power of deal-making

John Perkins worked in Chas. T. Main in Boston, Massachusetts. In a company of more than 2000 employees, he was the chief economist. About 50 people were working directly under his watch, and his main job was deal-making. He exhibited this quality so well in the book to the extent that he actually equipped my intelligence with how to make a profitable deal. Even though, when am making a deal, I will try and do it positively.

Although, he channeled his intelligence and deal-making skills to achieve bad results. The truth is that he was good in deal-making. He knows how to negotiate with poorer countries. He will use all machineries under his control to achieve his aim. He will first of all attract them with a juicy offer of giving them loans which they will be unable to possibly pay back. However, I think those affected countries share part of the blame, because it is unwise for one to collect loans they will unable to repay back in due time. If I am in a position to advise developing nations, I would simply tell them to take the amount they would be able to pay back without much hassle.

For instance, he will negotiate with them and convince them to take a loan of let’s say $1 trillion dollars. He will give it to a small country like Ecuador or Indonesia or any of the developing nations, and then insist that the country must as matter of necessity give about 90% of the loan to an American firm like a Bechtel or Halliburton. The companies will construct highways, ports or electrical system which will serve the interest of only a privileged few, usually the wealthiest families in those countries. Then the country would be in a deep economic mess, always genuflecting to U.S companies- because they were unable to repay the loan they collected. They were also unable to harness it. He gave example with Ecuador that owes more than 50% of her national budget in repaying this debt.

Of course, the countries would be stuck to the extent that they will unable to repay the loans, then they will approach them again and tell request them to give them access to their oil. Of course, the country would certainly agree. U.S would be happy on this outcome, they would recover their loans quickly (about 90% of the loan indirectly went back to the U.S Companies), plus other interests, then U.S would like the country to be their perpetual slave. I don’t know if John Perkins is saying the truth, but he tried it and he described it as being extremely successful.

iv. He accepted payment not to write the book

John Perkins said severally that he was paid never to write the book, but he faulted that after some time of active reflection. I am not going to judge him whether on the legal or moral point of view, but he said that he collected about half a million from a firm ( Stoner-Webster) not to write the ‘Confessions of an Economic Hit Man’ initially, he collected the money and did nothing, but later changed his mind.

v. He was seduced

The author did not just become an economic hit man. On several occasions, he talked about how he was seduced. After being recruited by National Security Agency, he was put under surveillance for a day- they discovered his weaknesses and strengths and quickly used all arsenals of sex, power, money and drugs to win him over. He described himself as a good man, but was acting under the influences of sex, power, money and drugs. (I think, he may have been deeply engrossed in these influences when he was writing this book), then if this is true, then some of the things he wrote here may be mere fiction or never happened as he painted the picture. I don’t take any person under the influence of drugs, sex, power and money serious- some of their thoughts can’t be logical.

vi. How he worked with World Bank

John Perkins talked how he worked closely with World Bank. According to him, both World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) financed all the projects of these economic hit men. He was happy about it, and things were actually flowing – but he had a change of heart after the 9/11 struck. It was at this point that he started to think of writing this story and letting the world know the principles used by these economic hit men, and the world could benefit from it.

This now boils down to what I said earlier that he is patriotic. His love for his country supersedes everything. He sees this as the only way his country could feel secure- he now wanted America to use these big institutions they have unevenly placed all over the world to use them, and create positive change in the world, especially to these developing nations springing up. He believed in American dream, he believed it is possible. John Perkins is optimistic that those institutions could be turned around and does what they ought to have done- which is equipping and re-constructing the poor nations. There are thousands of people living below $1 per day. America can change that.

vii. John Perkins loves humanity

I am seeing John Perkins as someone that is not a racist. From his writings, it is obvious he is a gift to the world. He was unrepentant campaigner of due diligence, always exposing the gross economic views and brutish methods used by an economically advanced super nation, United States in their bid to have a total control of democratic controls over poor nations, and to make those nations to be perpetually under them.

I don’t know if this is true or mere intellectual gymnastic, but if it is true then, writing this book is worthwhile. He wanted a better world. A better world is on the lips of many people around the world, because having a better world would make the world to benefit greatly.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

Each of the ideas raised in this book was worthwhile and really overwhelming. John Perkins has influenced me to be a real gift to the world, to love not just my country, but the world at large. I do not know who John Perkins is till I came across this book, if all the things he said is true and verifiable, then writing this book and making his voice heard is a noble thing.

I am motivated to do things that noble. I shouldn’t be selfish for any reason. The book is his personal confessions or part of his whistle blowing autobiography. Despite all the things he says in the book, I don’t think the world should hate America because recent activities of U.S to other developing nations are really encouraging and inspiring. They are now campaigning for global peace, democracy, justice and freedom to all peoples irrespective of ethnicity, race, or creed. As far as am concerned, this is a noble goal.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“All economic growth benefits humankind and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits.”

Every economic growth around me, my organization and country should be used to help others that did not have any. The more funds I have, the more I should help others. I have said it earlier, the book taught me never to be selfish. Reacting to this quote, John Perkins criticized the U.S for exploiting cheap labor and using oil companies to destroy some environments in developing nations. This is a principle he referred to as “corporatocracy.” He regretted how developing nations were crippled politically by the U.S Government- they were forced to succumb to U.S pressures and political influence. They used agencies like the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and lots of foreign aids to achieve their set objectives. A fraction of the funds might be diverted to the pockets of few privileged individuals who control the nation’s wealth. They used seductive tools like rigged elections, extortion, payoffs, and so on. It was interesting to read that this game was even played during this era of globalization.

“No matter how many toys we amass, we leave them behind when we die, just as we leave a broken environment, an economy that only benefits the richest, and a legacy of empowering greed over goodness. It is now time to commit to following a new path.”

I have never doubted John Perkins love for humanity. Among other things, he believes that this world is nothingness itself, and no matter what we do or what we try to amass, we will definitely leave them behind when we die. Death makes nonsense of all our existential struggles and acquisitions. When he says that ‘it is now time to commit to following a new path’ he is telling me to keep on doing well. My goodwill is what outlived my life. I will eventually die someday, and people might be inspired when they read about my footprints on the sands of time which points to humanitarian activities and selflessness.

“This book was written so that we may take heed and remold our story. I am certain that when enough of us become aware of how we are being exploited by the economic engine that creates an insatiable appetite for the world’s resources, and results in systems that foster slavery, we will no longer tolerate it. We will reassess our role in a world where a few swim in riches and the majority drown in poverty, violence and pollution. We will commit ourselves to navigating a course toward compassion, democracy and social justice for all.”

When I came across this piece, I was so inspired that I kept on memorizing it and it was really helpful. John Perkins is inspiring me to commit myself to a course toward compassion, democracy and social justice for all. I love democracy as a system of government. And I know that things have been better with my country since the inception of the new democratic rule in 1999.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

This book no doubt is a whistle blowing autobiography from John Perkins. He talked about his involvement as an economic hit man in the following countries Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Panama and so on. He worked hard to ensure that these countries bought his views on economic policies, so that they would be eternally grateful to their creditors.

A big chunk of the funds went to back to U.S companies like Halliburton and Bechtels. Only a handful of the money greased the palms of very few elites in those developing nations. Like in my country, Nigeria once in a while, we will read in the news of how one or two people from the ruling class was indicted in the Halliburton scam. Sometimes a committee would be set up to look into the scam, and that would be the end of the story.

Well, having said this, I think I understood almost all the things he wrote in this book. But I still have the view that John Perkins may not be saying the whole truth. If he should go for a revised edition, there could be few research and revisions on his present thoughts.

Also, I don’t believe that it is only the U.S that is cheating the poor countries. I know that other bigger nations like Britain, Germany, Canada, Australia and so on might be doing same using one or two methods- each using their own suitable platforms. The point am trying to make here is that in as much as I don’t believe hook line and sinker what John Perkins is saying, but then even if a bigger nation is using any means possible to cheat poor nations, it couldn’t just be U.S alone. Other bigger nations might be doing so. That is an argument John Perkins could have done with extensive research, instead of particularizing his findings to U.S alone. The way he was just talking U.S, trying to paint it dark, unbiased readers like myself will think he is biased or highly prejudiced about the United States.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

There were no exercises for me to complete in the book. However, I am inspired by one of his central messages which is trying to make a transition from exploiting resources to recycling, cleaning up pollution, and using technologies that would make life more meaningful. In some chapters, before he rounds it off, he will try to summarize his thoughts with a line or two- that is good and shows his level of intelligence.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No, I think the questions asked so far answered the whole questions in the book. The book was just his personal account of how he followed the dictates of his conscience, instead of an Olympian life of luxury, beautiful women and power. His arguments were based mainly on American empire and corporate globalization. I will not recommend this book to a lay person, especially from a developing nation, because some people especially from developing nations might read it and get angry with U.S. I believe that there is more to it than what John Perkins is saying here- some of his arguments might not be true.

Some people with lack of intellectual maturity might read “Confessions of an Economic Hit man” and cast aspersion on any U.S citizen around their vicinity. This is the type of book that will plant seeds of discord in the world. It can be relevant only to students of global history and diplomacy; not just to anyone. Any book that is capable of making a group of people angry or feel inferior shouldn’t be read for pleasure.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 8
B. How helpful were the contents? 7
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 5
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 6



The Leader who had No Title

Assessment by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

Robin Sharma is one of the most efficient and proactive leadership experts around the world. In this book, he writes that there are certain attitudes and skills that we need in order to achieve extraordinary success in all we do. All through the book, he offered an interesting story that can enable people to walk through successfully in life.

He shared with the reader some of the tips he has been sharing with Fortune 500 companies and some of the leading management experts in different countries of the world. No wonder, he is one of the most sought-after leadership coach in the world.

He gave me some tips that will help my organization to breakthrough to a new level of excellence even during uncertain times. I have learned in “The Leader who had No Title” that titles alone doesn’t give us the leadership ability we need, therefore there is no point waiting to get a leadership title before becoming a leader.

Leadership starts from when I define my role in an organization right from my first contact with them, knowing that it is important and then working smartly to succeed.

After reading and re-reading this book again, I have come to understand the following:

The best way to influence people irrespective of my position in an organization.

How to recognize and maximize opportunities in times of strong economic change or meltdown.

Intense innovation and how to make the best out of it.

How to build a great team and becoming a ‘merchant of wow’ to my clients.

Why I need to be both physically tough and mentally strong so as to lead my team to a new level of excellence.

Greater ways of building an unbeatable mindset, defeat stress, balance my personal life and unleash energy.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

i. I don’t need a title to be a leader

At several occasions in his description in the book, Robin Sharma tells us that leadership is not meant for a particular people, because anyone can be a leader at any level. Some people work in organizations with the mindset that to get into a leadership position, they need to work themselves up the corporate ladder of leadership, get the position or title they seek before becoming real leaders. Robin describes this view as a very wrong approach. Reacting to this view, he said: ‘we all need to lead where we are planted and shine where we now find ourselves’. I have learnt it once and for all that I don’t need a title to be a leader.

ii. Fable business style writing

Robin Sharma wrote this book in a fable business style- he tells the reader engaging and interesting leadership principles spiced in a story. It is expected that the reader will gain some insights while reading the inspiring story. This is a book that is worth reading any time, any day. The story captivated my attention and made me to think rationally about myself and what I need to do so as to take my organization to the next level.

iii. Self-leadership

Self-leadership is one of the major principles that Robin Sharma is propagating in this book. I can lead in any organization I find myself by the excellent things I do. I don’t need any official title to do this. This leadership principle should exude from myself in the first place. I should not follow or toe the line of mediocre or failures, doing so would entail foregoing the rewards of being a true leader.

iv. The story of Blake

The story of Blake is an interesting piece. In this book, Blake has engaging conversations with four unorthodox leaders; each of them was occupying positions which ordinarily we will not term a ‘leadership position’ based on conventional wisdom. But one yet interesting thing is that the reader has something to learn from their conversations. Every conversation was spiced with real principles that are capable of transforming an ordinary person into becoming a real leader.

If I follow these principles, there is no doubt that I would not be transformed from just being an ordinary leader to becoming a real leader, which has been my earnest desire. At the end of the story, Blake understood that he doesn’t need to hold any title, before he can achieve a leadership position. Turbulent times create true leaders. That reminds me of one the things one of my teachers used to say back days in the high institution that: ‘out of difficulties heroes emerge’. When we are faced with challenging opportunities or situations both in our private and professional lives, it will give us an opportunity to transform ourselves and learn; opportunities to do probably something we have never done, opportunities to think creatively and rationally.

v. The deeper the relationship, the stronger my leadership

Robin Sharma made me to understand that building a great relationship has something to do in my leadership style. I should spend time creating a deeper relationship virtually in all aspects of life. This will pay lots of dividends to me both in the short and long-term.

vi. Be a great person first before becoming a great leader

Robin Sharma describes this as number one criteria of being a highly sought-after leader. To be a great leader, I need as a matter of urgency strengthen my inner leadership qualities. This will help me to perform at optimal levels. I really need to learn the principles of leading myself. I should define my success based on what I have become, people I have touched their lives, not necessarily on few material acquisitions. The more self-aware I am, the more I should grow and help others succeed. Honestly, I see Robin Sharma as one of my leadership mentors. He teaches me the practical way of making a difference.

vii. My deeds should reflect my creed

I learned from Robin Sharma that my reputation is all I have. Whatever I do or say should reflect on things I believe in, and the acceptable norms of leadership. I should learn how to dare more than an ordinary person, and act more than a reasonable person. I should have the capacity to make huge impact in the society, and then be extraordinary in my work, bearing in mind that I don’t need a title to be a leader.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

The ideas in “The Leader who had No Title” will help me to live with a purpose. I see the book as a beautiful resource for product managers, business executives, marketers, and leaders per excellence.

I have worked in few organizations, sometimes I have seen few scrupulous people agonizing over titles, and often quarrelling why the organization is not giving them the needed ‘respect’ and ‘entitlements’. The good news is that each and every one of us has the capacity to become true leaders in organizations irrespective of what others think or the title.

The central message Robin Sharma is sharing with me here is to show leadership every single day in my work. He shared with me some of the leadership principles he had shared with some reputable organizations like FedEx, GE, IBM, Microsoft, Yale University etc.

The title on my business card doesn’t translate to true leadership; instead leadership is all about my willingness to innovate, commitment to excellent pursuits, strength of our influence, and quality of my belief.

He is not saying that organizations should let go of titles and structures of leadership, instead he is saying that leadership is all about developing the right behavior and he believes that any of us can show it.

As an employer of labor, Robin is telling me to make sure I grow the potentials of each and every one of my employees- from the mailroom to the boardroom. Companies that will win in these uncertain economic times will be those that give people the opportunity to win without titles. I should always encourage them to act and behave like leaders, and aims at delivering wow results all the time at work.

In any organization I find myself, I am always committed towards delivering positive results and leading by example. I show some of my co-workers the way to lead, and I also strive to learn from them. I am someone who wants to fly in my career as a leadership coach and win at work, so I find this book really useful at this point in time.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

This is a book that I should be reading at all times. Earlier before now, I have seen people who believed or who try to measure their own success with the position they have attained, but this book tells me that the position does not matter; instead it is the satisfaction that comes with it.

It trains me on how to face the challenges of the competitive world; he spiced it with inspirational and motivational quotes. When I say that I have been enriched with some books, obviously “The Leader who had No title” is one of them. Anyone is capable of becoming a heart-centered leader, the first and eminent step is to lead without a title.

Let me talk about just three quotes that occupied my thoughts and minds here:

“What the society thinks is of no interest to me. All that’s important is how I see myself. I know who I am. I know the value of my work.”

I am one of those that believes that what people actually think about me doesn’t in anyway translate to what I have become or what I will become.

People are free to hold their opinions, but what is important is that I should strive to do the right thing at all times. I have always avoided opportunities and people that will make me steal from my organization or live in deceit.

Such gullible people have called me names for not succumbing to their antics, yet am strong and unruffled. So, the author has just reiterated my belief that what the society thinks about me is nothing and absolutely their own view and I shouldn’t live by it.

On another note, irrespective of what the society thinks about me, it is left for me to live the right way, do the right things, and mingle with the right people.

“Victims recite problems, leaders provide solutions.”

As a leader in anywhere I find myself, I should aim to be a solution provider, not someone that keep on reciting problems or issues. I have always used any little opportunity I see to provide solutions and my view points to issues.

“I’ve heard that the best way to help poor people is to make sure you don’t become one of them.”

This very thought keep making me to laugh uncontrollably. Though he didn’t actually go into details of telling us who is poor and who is not poor. Well, I don’t see poor people as those without enough cash to pay for their daily needs and basic amenities only.

Poor people are those without vision and mission. So, if this is the case, then the best way to help them is by making sure that I have a vision and mission and that I am working round the clock to see that I help them achieve maximum success.

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The book was so clear, straight to the point and quite an interesting piece. I can only say that Robin is a good storyteller. It is good that he tells this story in a book than just telling it to people while training them in private and corporate organizations; telling the whole story will take time, and some of the audience may lose interests along the line. If he must tell the story, he should have summarized it. Although, I am not a good listener of long stories, but having the patience to go through this book was useful and eventful.

It taught me some key facts that will help me in becoming a true leader without a title. The key leadership principles were embedded in the story. Also, I have learnt to develop patience.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

No. But I love the way he ends every chapter. He tries to summarize the whole points made in the entire chapter with just few lines of thought, and well spiced quotes. To me, this is like an exercise- I memorize these quotes, and tries to live by them.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

None at this time, because in the course of my assessment I have been able to share my thoughts on some of the things I read in the book. It teaches me to develop a sense of purpose, live a purpose-driven lifestyle, and of course lead without a title. I think the best part of this book is the area Robin was saying that I should take ownership of my life. I need to realize the impact I should make in the world. I should work to provide value to my employees, and uplift them at all times.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 10
B. How helpful were the contents? 10
C. How easy was it to understand? 8
D.Would you recommend it to others? 9
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9

12 Disciplines of Leadership Excellence

Assessment by Ethelbert Umeh (Nigeria)

1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?

In this edifying literary piece, 12 Disciplines of Leadership Excellence, New York Times Bestselling author, Brian Tracy and global leadership icon, Dr. Peter Chee teamed up to reveal to us timeless wisdom- disciplines we can use to make a turnaround in our personal and corporate organizations. While reading this book, I felt the authors were actually talking to me. I read this book countless times, and I was applying the principles to my life and was seeing actionable immediate results. They equipped me with the tips that will place me on the path of leadership greatness.

With these 12 groundbreaking disciplines; leadership excellence, clarity, control, character, competence, caring, courage, competitiveness, creativity, change management, concentration and personal excellence. I and my organization will excel even beyond our wildest imaginations. They taught me how to master each of these disciplines and then use them to my advantage. We are living in a time when we need high performing leaders- to achieve sustainable high performance; I need each and every one of these 12 disciplines. As the authors rightly put in the introductory part of the book, the leadership disciplines explained in this book are qualities that require tremendous determination and persistence to develop and maintain. The authors armed me with necessary leadership principles that would take me to the next level in my desire to make a global impact.

2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.

a. The discipline of leadership excellence

Today, more than ever in the history of man, we are in dire need of true leaders. The authors made more clarifications by saying that we actually need two types of leaders namely; a transformational leader and a transactional leader. A transformational leader is a visionary, a pathfinder. He leads the way. A transformational leader is always interested in equipping people with the capacity to motivate, inspire, and achieve sustainable development more than they have ever done, while a transactional leader is perhaps the most important. This person gets things done with and through others.

There are three ways in which leaders can lead; by command, by consultation and by consensus. As a leader, I should learn not to give order, instead I should try to encourage my team to be deeply involved in my vision- I have found out that the more I get people involved, the more they will see reasons with me to be committed towards making the ideas or vision possible.

b. Leaders are made, not born

Over the years, I have had countless debates both one-on-one and with some of my followers on the social media on whether leaders are actually made or born. I have always believed in the school of thought that says that leaders are made- this book has affirmed my belief. I love the way they handled this fragile issue to a logical conclusion.

These authors have proved my investigative and critical analysis to be true that leaders are made, not born. According to them, nobody comes into the world as a natural leader, instead people become leaders by first of all deciding to lead, and secondly by learning those skills required to ‘elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people’ leaders are made through self-development and equipping themselves with relevant skills of leadership. As a leader, I should see myself as a lifelong student- always learning something new every day. True leaders never stop learning. I shouldn’t be tired of reading leadership materials, attending conferences, engaging actively in discussions, or debates that revolve around leadership.

c. Clarity

According to them: “Clarity is probably 85% of success.” I was inspired in this chapter to develop a clear vision. I need to be crystal clear about my goals. It is only when I do so that I can be able to accomplish extraordinary things with my life. Clarity helps me to set goals for my organization, determine the values, create an action statement, clarify my vision, agree upon the mission statement, set standards of performance, ask critical questions, engage myself with strategic thinking etc.

d. Sense of control

They encouraged me to develop a sense of control. According to them, sense of control is a true mark of a leader. If I equip myself with the discipline of self-control, it would be easy for me to decide what to do or not, rather than feeling obligated to do what others want or expect. My ultimate goal should be to take charge of myself, environment and others. As a leader, I must accept responsibility of my actions. Over the years, I have come across countless people especially in some local organizations trying to evade their responsibilities once in a while. This is one of the marks of an irresponsible people, managers, and lower- level employees. True leaders don’t do this.

e. Character

Developing quality strength of character is an essential ingredient of leadership. I am inspired to be an example to others- to live life that points to excellence. Character is that action I exhibit when I am not under the supervision of anyone. Developing strength of character will attract people to me. Integrity goes hand in hand with developing strength of character. It also implies quality performance in everything I do.

The authors assert that: “character is like any discipline. The more you practice it, the sooner it becomes a permanent part of your personality. From hence, I have resolved to develop quality strength of character. Every person I meet must feel the impact of this character.”

g. The discipline of competence

I have discovered that most people do not achieve much in life due to their low self-esteem. The authors made me to understand that my self-esteem is determined by how much I love myself. Growing up with low levels of self-confidence and self-esteem can actually hurt my happiness and performance. I should try as much as possible to commit myself to excellence- attract and keep the best people. Continuous learning will enhance my leadership skills. I have never failed to neglect reading; listening and taking additional courses and training- all these will not only make me relevant, but will also develop my competence. Brain Tracy and Peter Chee described leaders as learners-always hungry for more information. Thus, continuous learning remains the foundation of competence.

h. The Discipline of Competitiveness

The authors assert that the sales and marketing department of my organization should be made to be effective, because sales and marketing remains very essential in most organizations. Further investigations on why some businesses fail results from some companies not knowing how to market their human and business potentials. As a leader and upcoming entrepreneur, I shouldn’t joke with the competitiveness.

Strategic marketing is very important for my firm- I should determine what my present and prospective clients want, and then make serious efforts to provide the services to them at highly moderate rates. This will make them to remain glued to my services than going to my competitors. I should train my marketing department with all the skills they need to excel. The sole purpose of business is not just to maximize earnings, but to create and keep a customer in a cost-effective way.

3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?

No doubt, this book has equipped me with the skills that would enable me to be a highly effective servant leader. I am now encouraged to regularly commit myself to personal excellence. I can become a successful leader if I can learn and practice these techniques, methods and issue-based teachings. I have tried the best I can to harness these seven and more ideas into my lifestyle. I must say that the experience had been priceless- I am now seeing a better view of myself. Most of my friends and colleagues keep on admiring my expression of clear vision and how I try my best to be a better person.

Experience has shown me that the easiest and most effective way I can get to the top is through excellent performance. As a team leader, I should set standard of excellence for myself and my team. I would be evaluated, not just by my achievements alone, but also by the quality of the work of those entrusted to my care or under my supervision. These excellent resources will lead me and my organization to personal and organizational excellence faster than I can ever thought possible. I am happy applying them now.

4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.

“Self-discipline is the essential quality for success in any endeavor with self-discipline, everything is possible. But without self-discipline, virtually nothing is possible.”

This quote inspired me to pay more attention towards self-discipline, since this is the quality for success. Further research has proven to me that most people I know have this culture of self-discipline, and this endears them to many.

“The development of an essential discipline is hard work, and more hard work initially, involving two steps forward and one step back. But once you have developed a particular discipline, it becomes automatic and easier to practice throughout your career.”

Yes, this is true. I discovered that it is not really easy to develop any particular discipline, but whenever I muster courage to develop them, it now becomes so easy for me to practice them. Over the years, I have worked so hard to develop these three skills- reading, writing and public speaking. Right now, I found out that I derive pleasure in them more than ever. Practicing them is always a joy to my heart.

“Leaders have a long term perspective, they project forward, 1, 2, 3, 5 and even 10, or 20 years into the future when deciding a curious course of action. They take time to carefully consider the potential consequences of an act or behavior before they engage in it. They practice ‘back-from- the future thinking.”

As a leader, I should always be projecting into the future, working hard and smart in ensuring that the future is blissful. Before I engage in an act, I need to think critically about the potential consequences.

“The difference between a politician and a statesman is that the politician plans for the next election; the statesman ( or woman) plans for the next generation.”

This is always the problem we have with most people occupying leadership positions especially in Africa, the part of the world I come from. I have severally tried to inspire my audience in conferences and in my blogs never to act like politicians who merely plan for the next election, instead to act like statesmen who are working round the clock for the betterment of the human condition. There is a big gap between a politician and a statesman. I choose to act like a statesman.

“When you develop the discipline of leadership excellence, you will become a more powerful and resourceful leader, get more done, and succeed at higher levels in everything you attempt.”

Just like I have said earlier, I am working so hard to develop the discipline of leadership excellence always, because this is the only way I can live my life to the full, actualize my possibilities and even become inspirational to many who look up to me.

“The more key people who are involved in the strategic planning process, the more likely it is that the strategy will be implemented and that you will achieve your goals.”

Strategic planning is not the work of one person. If one person tries to do so, the process or rather its complexities will surely overwhelm the person, and that might lead to underperformance. If someone who doesn’t believe in strategic approach to things is given a task. It will simply overwhelm him or her- most times, such people always underperform. I have seen that work in Africa, both in business and politics. The best thing to do is to adopt a strategic process. When this is done, then success can be achieved. So, while engaging in strategic planning, I need the ideas and suggestions of like minds. The authors drove their message home by saying that: ‘a person who acts as his own strategic planner probably has a fool for a client. Some people have failed to think, and the effect is always on them. No one can succeed 100% by his or her own strategic planner. We need to be consultative in our approach to organizational leadership.

“Our only real competitive advantage is our ability to learn and apply new skills faster than our competitors.”

I have resolved to keep on striving for personal excellence and to be the best of what I do.

Developing a strong reputation for excellence in all facets of organization will give me a competitive edge over my competitors; I can do this by making sure that I and my team keep on learning new skills and applying them immediately in the work we do, faster than our competitors. This is the only way to be miles ahead my competitors. I have found out in recent times that most businesses have a monumental collapse because their closest competitors learnt new skills and applied it immediately- and that actually made the competitors to dwarf the activities of their earlier competitors. I shouldn’t allow my competitors to take advantage of me; if they do, they will take away my clients and even prospective clients. Wheat should I do then? It is very simple, ‘to learn new skills and apply them in my organization’

5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?

The authors said that: “twenty-one days is the average time that it takes for you to develop a new habit pattern of medium complexity. But be aware that for some people, the development of a leadership discipline may take weeks, months or even years.” I do not agree totally to the first premise, 21 days is not feasible. How did they arrive at such result? Or are they talking from the blues? I feel they are talking from the blues, because they didn’t give us statistics of how they arrive at such a conclusion.

Yes, it is true some complex habits can be learnt from 21 days or more of consistent practice. But there are some habit patterns of medium complexity that can be learnt within 2-3 days. For example, someone can learn how to give, simply by giving his time, talent and treasure immediately the idea comes to him, or immediately someone told him or her to do so.

So, such people don’t need to stay for the next 21 days before fully developing it. So, can you now see why I say their thought is not feasible, unless they are talking of particular habits which they didn’t mention in their analysis.

Later in the book, they also contradicted themselves when they said: “Don’t be impatient with yourself or expect to change the habit of a lifetime quickly and easily;” you see, just like some habits can’t be learnt within 21 days, there are some habits that may not be changed within 21 days, while there are some that can be dropped or learnt within few days or hours as the case maybe.

Secondly, the authors also made another comment, which I don’t agree with. I raised eye brows when I came across this piece: “Anything less than a commitment to excellence is an acceptance of mediocrity.” As far as am concerned, I don’t think this is always the case, because further personal investigations reveal that there are people who are not excellent people, who doesn’t engage in excellent performance, yet they are not mediocre. So, between excellence and mediocrity, there are people who exist in the middle. If you are not committed to excellence, you might be committed to something less that is not necessarily mediocrity. That is the point am trying to make here.

6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?

Yes, there were action exercises at the end of every chapter. In fact, I tried my best to do them one after the other. The questions revolved around the overall thoughts in each chapter. I had a lot of transformative effect after answering these questions. I completed the exercises and they were indeed helpful, and inspiring. I felt deeply challenged and inspired to invest in myself and organization with these 12 Disciplines of Leadership Excellence. This book is one of a kind.

7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.

No, I think I have stated my thoughts about the book in my earlier assessments. The book was really inspirational, though with very few reservations which I have stated two of them only above. It is highly recommended to all and sundry.

Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.

A. How interesting was it to read? 9
B. How helpful were the contents? 9
C. How easy was it to understand? 9
D. Would you recommend it to others? 10
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 9