Thursday, March 20, 2014

#59 Empty Shelf Challenge 01 [101 in 1001]

Writer Jon Acuff posted a challenge on his blog late last year to encourage more reading.  He said to empty a shelf in your home and fill it through the year with all the books you read.  I love to read, but saw myself slacking off too much, so I added the challenge as part of my 101 in 1001 list and I have finished my first book. 

Book: Boundaries for Leaders.

Author: Dr. Henry Cloud

Info: Copyright 2013 Harper Collins Publishers

Where acquired: Actually, it was gift from the author.  Thanks, Dr. Cloud

Availability: Most bookstores. Dr. Cloud's website (, and of course

Why:  Though they've been highly recommended by several of my friends in recovery, I've never had the opportunity to read any of the Boundaries books.  Because of an exchange over Twitter, Dr. Cloud generously mailed me a complementary copy of the book.  I'd also heard Dr. Cloud speak at the Celebrate Recovery Summits I attended and found his teachings sound and not full of psychobabble and hyperbole.  I've also been told that I show leadership potential (hopefully THAT wasn't hyperbole), so I try to read any good books that would help me be a good leader if the chance arises.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags):  # # # # (had to go to hashtags because everyone's browser doesn't correctly render the smileys I was using.)

What it's about:  The foremost authority on leadership, Dr. John C. Maxwell, defines leadership as simply influence.  Dr. Cloud takes the definition even further with saying that a good leader is "ridiculously in charge."  However, that brand of leadership does not mean a leader who lords his position over those he leads.  Nor does it mean that a "ridiculously in charge" leader is one who is never wrong and never needs the feedback or accountability of others, including those under his influence.  In fact, the content of this book goes quite the opposite of "old school" leadership that says, "remind them of their place and make sure they keep it."  In other words, this book is designed not to teach leaders how to be more over their followers, but how to lead beside their teams. 

What I Like:

The author asked a lot of thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.  My pondering and writing down my answers and discussing them with my mentor are why it took me so long to finish this book (among other things).  The concept is that boundaries are what you create and what you allow, but it's much more complex than that.  Dr. Cloud goes into the inner workings of why the mind sometimes allows things that aren't healthy and creates either unreasonable boundaries that keep people at arms length, or too flimsy a boundary that allows life and people to just happen.  I learned so much about why goals in my life failed and why I try too hard to protect my heart from pain.  I have gotten many answers through this book.  It has also brought up even more questions for me to discover the answers to.  I also appreciate the fact that the book doesn't just instruct on leading others; it makes it clear that in order to be an effective leader of others, one must be an effective leader of self.

What I didn’t like: 

To me, the first two chapters dragged a bit.  I think the problem is not with the book itself, but that I am not a CEO, so many of the business concepts mentioned in those chapters are totally foreign to me.

Other misunderstandings caused me to nearly put the book down.  As I wrote in my notes:
At first, the book sounded like it was promoting the "yes man" mentality:  "Boss is always right, underlings are always wrong.  Leave your creativity and innovation at the door, along with your humanity.  It's not welcome here." I'd already been through that and I was in no way interested in being a leader like that, much less working with another one like that.
But, the author makes it clear that executive function is not "dog training," as he puts it.  Executive function is a means to draw out innovation and creativity by keeping an organization focused and the momentum of the people moving constantly forward.
Many of my difficulties were not with the book itself, but my interpretation of what was being said.

To sum up: My main takeaway from the book was this:
I am ridiculously in charge of my life.  No one has the right to dictate my life except for God Almighty.  In the end HE will be the One I answer to for how I spend the time He gave me, no one else.
Want to join the challenge?  Click the empty shelf photo on the right to learn more.  It's not too late!

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