"What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 8th January 2013Robert Kelsey's book repackages what he considers to be the best advice gleaned from other self-help texts. Kelsey is careful to acknowledge his sources but reframes them through his own experiences as someone with a high fear of failure (abbreviated as "high FF", and as opposed to someone with "high achievement motivation" or "high AM"). Kelsey believes that people like himself with high FF are innately wired to react to their failures (and ironically even their successes) in more negative ways than the high AM-types (who are more to treat their failures as lessons to be learned rather than as reflections of their own sense of personal worth).
Given that Kelsey draws extensively on existing literature, much of the advice in the core of the book can be found elsewhere (I was reminded in particular of ideas also presented in The Thinking Person's Guide to Happiness). However he places emphasis on particular aspects which he feels are most helpful to combat the "high FF" perspective, and by suggesting that as this perspective is an innate characteristic that cannot be "unlearned" he focuses more on mitigating its negative aspects and working with its positive ones.
Later chapters in the book are focused specifically on different aspects of working life, reflecting the author's own background in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur. However the core advice in the book is arguably applicable to life in general: know what your goals are (and how realistic they might be, an area where high FF's often fail) and develop strategies based on your values, strengths and weaknesses to work towards achieving them.
Kelsey writes well and personally I always find it interesting to see a new take on these ideas, often revealing insights that I'd missed from other sources. In this case I'm reminded of the line from Kipling's famous poem, about success and failure and "treating those two impostors just the same", and as someone who I think suffers from the high-FF mindset I found "What's Stopping You?" both an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.