Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday, Monday

Two books advocate change on Mondays
Monday may be the best time to alter your outlook and improve the way you work and live.
originally published 1/21/08 in The Miami Herald

I dislike Sunday nights more than Mondays, but that's just me. It's probably the vestige of my youth. But for some people, Monday is the worst time of all, like it was for that murderously disturbed youth who inspired The Boomtown Ra
ts' ode, I Don't Like Mondays. For others, it's a bittersweet, unreliable occasion, like The Mamas and Papas' Monday, Monday.

As a symbol for the beginning of the workweek or the genesis of a new endeavor, Monday will more than suffice. Two new books use the day as a starting point for ideas on effecting radical and empowering changes in one's work and life.

Monday Morning Choices: 12 Powerful Ways to Go from Everyday to Extraordinary. David Cottrell. Collins, 208 pages.
I'm always skeptical of self-help manuals and avoid them like the plague that most of them are, but I'll occasionally encounter one that rises above the genre. This is, thankfully, among those.

Cottrell takes three types of choices — ''character,'' ''action'' and ''investment'' — and divides them into 12 subcategories, using them as starting points for a discussion about conducting oneself in an ethical manner in order to be effective while also tending to material needs. There's nothing especially new or earthshaking here, but Cottrell has a wise and light touch, employs language well and keeps everything simple and meaningful without preaching or proselytizing.

He also has a good sense of history and uses events such as the fire that destroyed Thomas Edison's workshop to serve as examples of his ideas by placing them in context with his little lessons. He invokes anecdotes from the workplace to make points without being heavy-handed, and he recounts turning points in his life that reflect the types of choices he advises others to make.

Cottrell recognizes that emotion and intellect are the key elements that motivate us, and he demonstrates that we are perpetually faced with choices that test our resolve and character.
No More Mondays: Fire Yourself — and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work. Dan Miller. Currency/Doubleday. 272 pages.
Miller wants you to stop working at a job you hate, with people you don't like, doing things you can't stand. He believes that most of us have traded our freedom and happiness for security, but the security we think we've attained is an illusion. Anyone who has been laid off or has had his or her position ''eliminated'' knows how true that is.

His contention, then, is that each of us ought to stop working at gigs we dislike, figure out what it is that makes us happy, and then do it. The money will come, he says, and the book is packed with tales of folks who did just that. Some became millionaires — multimillionaires, even — so what are you waiting for?

Well, he's a bit more serious than that, and cites Dan Pink's great Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind, as well as a number of other insightful and thoughtful works. But for those who need a bit of humor, folksy wisdom and gentle encouragement, Miller has plenty of stories, tips, observations and cartoons to convey his ideas in a pleasant, unthreatening and possibly empowering manner.

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