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Myself and Other More Important Matters [Hardcover]

Charles Handy
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 May 2006

Charles Handy is perhaps best known outside the business world as a wise and warm presenter of Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'. Long recognised as one of the world's leading business thinkers (over a million copies of his books have been sold around the world), in Myself and Other More Important Matters he leaves the management territory he has so effectively and influentially mapped in the past to explore the wider issues and dilemmas - both moral and creative - raised by the turning points of his long and successful life.Here he investigates the big issues of how life can best be lived as they have emerged from the unfolding of his life and his unique and influential understanding of what really matters.

From supplying oil by boat to an area larger than England as a bullish young Shell executive in Borneo to realising that there was a big difference between describing the development of a 'portfolio' life (made up of a variety of activities for a range of purposes and pay) in theory and actually himself leaving behind full-time employment, from helping to start up the London and Open business schools to listening and talking to people all over the world about how they want to manage their lives, Handy's telling of his experiences proves both revealing and significant.

Ultimately his thoughtful questioning of his own life is designed to inspire our own - what do we really value? Is it money? Time? Family and community? What is the role of work in our lives? What do we find fulfilling?In his wonderfully engaging and drily witty telling of his own story, Charles Handy provides us with the opportunity to learn life-lessons from one of our wisest contemporaries - and ultimately to inform and influence our own making of life's major decisions.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann; 1st edition (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434013463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434013463
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 854,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Charles Handy is a true statesman in the field... a wizened dean of faculty for the world of independent thinkers. (Jim Collins, Author Of Good To Great)

If Peter Drucker is responsible for legitimising the field of management and Tom Peters for popularising it, then Charles Handy should be known as the person who gave it a philosophical elegance and eloquence that was missing from the field.' (Warren Bennis Author Of On Becoming A Leader)

Book Description

The bestselling author of THE EMPTY RAINCOAT and THE AGE OF UNREASON examines life's big choices - taking the format of his famous BBC 'Thought for the Day' programme to frame the key phases of our life.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By S. Yogendra VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A weekend's 5-6 hours is all it took me to read this book. I think that says something about the easy pace of the book, the vivid writing style of the author and the imaginative weaving of tales by the raconteur Charles Handy. Having recently read two American autobiographies, I was pleased to note that this one is different, perhaps because Handy is not American. There is no pomposity, no grandiose claims, no hyperbole. Handy does not forget to give credit for his achievements where it may be due, whether it is his education, his wonderful wife or his late father's colleagues. Nor does he go on about I, me, myself although he could have done so, this being his autobiography. His life was clearly not lived in isolation. Highlighting this allows a better understanding of how he discovered opportunities and how he made his decisions about taking them on. One can paint a fairly full picture of his life, with all its characters. That he is well-read is apparent throughout the book, and in his approach to management issues, I think he may be the closest thing we may have to Peter Drucker, who now sadly is no more.

Why 4 stars? Well, a note about proof-reading in the book: I do not know if this vexes many people, but it irritates me because poor spelling, missing words and malapropisms can distract from a perfectly engrossing piece of writing. Why do editors let authors down like this? If I were 12, I would find 'pubic' instead of 'public' funny, but no more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Business and integrity do mix 18 July 2007
Amongst the management dross that gets published, Charles Handy's books have always stood out in a positive way because he tells it from the soul rather than the cheque book. How refreshing then, to read that even with all his accummulated wisdom and experience, Handy has room for regrets at decisions he's made throughout his life, and reflects on what he could have done differently.

This is an interesting stroll through Charles Handy's life and work - but what comes through for me is his sense of humility - decency even - that frankly you'd be hard-pushed to find amongst most people who ply his trade. At the core, simplicity and a sense of integrity seems to drive everything Handy stands for, which are sound values in anyone's book.

Easily read and digested, Handy's book lingers in the mind beyond the last page. The tragedy is, that in a market dominated by ghost-written biographies of non-celebrities, this gem of a book should be read by more people - but probably won't be. A shame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Where other gurus offer glib answers and seem overly ego-driven, Handy has always specialised in helping us question what our organizations are for; how best to structure them; how work fits into life and what our driving purpose is.

Handy is the author of The Empty Raincoat, The Elephant and The Flea, The Age of Paradox, 21 Ideas For Managers, and other books that help us stop, think and analyze exactly what it is we are doing at work and what we are for.

Myself and Other More Important Matters is Handy's autobiography so far. It is a pleasure to read, and you learn about leadership, work, management, life, parenting, yourself, while you are enjoying reading it.

There is a growing consensus now that, after decades of process improvements, what people are looking for in the organizations they work for, invest in, lead and buy from is organizations that act more like people and less like machines. It is time for the more human organization to emerge. Handy has been teaching us this for years.

My own area of interest is business leadership. This book is full of insights into organizations, their culture and how to lead, such as "Great leaders seem to live with a mix of humility and confidence, which includes the ability to admit on occasion they were wrong."

From McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y to Aristotle's definition of happiness or 'eudaimonia' meaning to flourish and be fulfilled - challenging the prevailing assumption in the west that hedonism is happiness - to how JoHari windows work, the learning you pick up almost in passing from Handy is rich and deep and enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definition of success 19 Feb 2007
Ask a 'successful' person how they define success and all too often they can't give an answer. They may have achieved their goals but don't feel any happier than when they were working towards them. Charles Handy is different on two counts - firstly he's very clear on what success means to him and secondly he's had several careers; oil executive, academic and business guru along with a wealth of experience on which to base his opinion. I'm half his age but I'll set out to live the second half of my life in accordance with his wisdom.

Six years on from writing this review I've upped my ranking to 5 stars, I've not re-read the book but I've tried to live by some of Handy's thoughts and I'm more fulfilled as a result.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom 20 Jun 2006
This is a fantastic book and one that I will read many times. Handy is philosphical and compassionate and succeeds in making you pause and reflect upon what he is saying in every chapter. The wisdom and kindness of the man and his ability to put across difficult concepts in an easy to read and digest style is commendable. This book will be of interest not only to those familiar with Handy but also to others trying to make sense of the world we live in today. Higly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Having read all his other books the book came self recommended
While nearing the end of my own working career some five years ago this book came along at an appropriate moment for me also to reflect on my own life of work and play. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alexander Kreator
5.0 out of 5 stars Modestly brilliant
Hard to categorise this book - ostensibly a biography, from a business thinker relecting on simple questions about how to lead one's life. Read more
Published on 13 May 2010 by rkcam
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping us create more human organizations
Where other gurus offer glib answers and seem overly ego-driven, Handy has always specialised in helping us question what our organizations are for; how best to structure them; how... Read more
Published on 12 Jun 2008 by P. A. Dourado
4.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Engaging
I once saw Charles Handy speak at a business conference and was really impressed with how he just spoke for an hour or so without notes, using only an empty whiteboard and pen. Read more
Published on 6 May 2008 by Andy
5.0 out of 5 stars An uplifting read
This is the type of book I would like to write towards the end of my life - it is so full of wisdom, compassion, and everything connects in a beautiful manner. Well done Mr Handy.
Published on 3 Sep 2007 by K. Harford
5.0 out of 5 stars Spirituality in Business - is it really possible?
I love Charles Handy's writing. I first came across him in 1990 or thereabouts when I was given his book 'The Age of Unreason' to read by my then boss. Read more
Published on 22 July 2006 by Ms. Ge Bolton
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