Monday, December 17, 2012

The good among the great: 19 traits of the most admirable, creative, and joyous people

The good among the great: 19 traits of the most admirable, creative, and joyous people
By Donald Van de Mark

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

I have read many self-help books, many motivational books, and many books of support and encouragement.  I have even written a number of them myself, and my college textbooks on communication, in a sophisticated way, are like self-help, motivational books that offer students support and encouragement.  Van de Mark’s book is all of these in one.

Also, throughout my professional career, too, I have depended upon the work of Abraham Maslow, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs appears in many of my textbooks.  I have never read Maslow’s nineteen specific personality traits that make people exceptional.  It is these traits that provide the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings for Van de Mark’s book.  He offers readers one chapter per trait.

I have to admit that I begin reading books like this one with a great deal of skepticism.  Often, there is so much repetition between such books as these, and they reek of common sense and platitudes that offer little that is new.  That being said, however, I have often felt that any book or set of ideas that encourage people to become more creative and joyous—much less admirable!—is, automatically, useful and valuable.  Why not encourage people to improve themselves?

Well, let me tell you, this is really a very well-written book.  Although the nineteen traits (autonomous, loving, ethical, unaffected, private, detached, experiential, realistic, laid back, performance and process oriented, egalitarian, jolly, empathetic, dutiful, appreciative, creative, exuberant, joyous, and transcendent) are not earth-shattering, nor do they plow new territory, Van de Mark is a terrific story teller, and along with some well-known celebrities (Warren Buffet, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Charles Schwab, Robin Williams, and Steve Case, to name a few), the book reads easily, comfortably, and will hold your attention.

If you are looking for quick condensations of what he writes in each chapter, read the “Takeaways” he offers at the end of every chapter.  It is in those sections, especially, where the self-help orientation of the book is most pronounced.  There are always five or six ideas that readers can survey, adopt, internalize, and practice.

Yes, I was impressed.  It is clear that this is a well-constructed book.  The ideas are interesting, and if you are looking for support and encouragement in your attempts to improve your life, Van de Mark offers a great place to begin your search.

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