Publishing Year: 2015
About the Author: Tom Rath is an author and researcher with over two decades spent studying the interaction between work, human health and well-being, including during his 13 years at Gallup, where Tom led the organization’s strengths, employee engagement, wellbeing, and leadership consulting worldwide. His books have sold in over 10 million copies and include global bestsellers such as StrengthsFinder 2.0, Strengths Based Leadership, Wellbeing, and Eat Move Sleep, and Are You Fully Charged?. Tom also co-authored two illustrated books for children, How Full Is Your Bucket? for Kids and The Rechargeables.
Growth Is A Journey book review consists of a series of questions and answers, intended to represent 1-2 key nuggets of insight from the book, as well as personal takeaways with an invitation for readers to discover the book in its entirety.
Key message of the Book: Fully-charged individuals are those who live an abundant and happy life as result of three main reasons: (1) they have found meaning in their life and work, (2) they are mindful about having more positive interactions than negative ones and (3) they are practicing a healthy lifestyle via healthy eating, sleeping and exercising habits.
What to know before reading: The book is a guide in living a fully-charged life, via three main sections on Meaning, Interactions and Energy.
Each section is an invitation to a fully-charged life via adoption of proven principles and insights, that represent the essence and findings of a myriad of surveys and research work.
To make it more concrete, as an example, Chapter 1 of the Part 1: Meaning is titled Create Meaning With Small Wins and is a walk-through to creating meaning in our day-to-day life. As per Tom Rath, meaning is not about some grandiose results and actions in our lives, it is about making a difference in our environments: “Small wins generate meaningful progress. You might create a small positive charge for one of your customers today or work on a new product that will benefit people in the future. Over the weekend, maybe you’ll have a long conversation with a loved one that makes a difference. It is these little moments, not grand actions, that create substance and meaning.” Tom demonstrates this is the case via research work led by Roy Baumeister and Barbara Fredrickson, University professors who in their lifelong work found that “Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life“. By comparison, engaging in meaningful activities – that improve the environment around us- leads to more sustaining levels of happiness: “Every minute you can set aside your own happiness for the sake of others will eventually lead to stronger families, organizations and communities”.
Throughout the book, the reader will be discovering similar nuggets of insights and research-based principles around finding purpose in life and work, redefining happiness in our own terms and based on our strengths, valuing prioritizing experiences and positive interactions, and adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Biggest personal learning from the book: Key personal learning was that a fully-charged life depends on three variables – all three variables are required and interdependent. For a fully-charged life, it is not enough to create meaning or have positive interactions or stay healthy. It has to be all three. In other words, if you are not adopting a healthy, lifestyle you are less likely to sustain positive interactions and create meaning. If you are doing everything right health-wise but not having positive interactions or finding meaning in your day-to-day activities, you are less likely to sustain mental or physical health.
One specific learning from the book: A point made in the book is around the ratios of positive and negative interactions. In the chapter “Be 80% Positive”, Tom Rath explains the benefits of targeting that “at least 80% of our conversations should be focused on what’s right.” This is because three to five positive interactions are needed to outweigh a negative exchange. Positive interactions are associated with higher body’s production of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone; negative interactions are associated with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Such principle can be practically applied in our verbal or written communications by being mindful about the words we use: “Positive words are the glue that holds relationships together”.
How is this book different from other leadership books: The book is like a cocktail of vitamins, condensed to provide a roadmap for a fully-charged life. Behind each principle, there is a good amount of research work, surveys or studies done to support such findings.
Additional resources: For more details www.tomrath.org
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