on 5 November 2011
In deference to my review's title, let me start by saying that I have absolutely nothing against my father's self-help books, whatever they may have been. Like you, I've read hundreds that have come before. You know the ones, don't you? They feature only the best smiling faces. They offer up success story after success story. They promise to help you unlock the vault of personal fulfillment or to shower you with your weight in gold. Now, I've done my best to understand their messages, and I've worked my "darndest" to embed their wisdom into my life. While I haven't quite reaped the lion's share of benefits, the best I can still afford to do is "guess" that I'm on the road to ultimate reward. The destination still seems pretty far ahead, if you ask me.
So much of "success literature" that's been peddled throughout the ages has centered on either strict reliance or blind allegiance to key principles (principles set by others who claim to know better, mind you, and not those already accepted by the individual). Sadly, I've found that, while these principles may very well produce the "success" (however it's defined by the writer or `ghost' writer), the reality of putting them into every day practice lay just out of reach of average folks. Regular `Joes.' Common people. Salt o'the earth types. Yes, I'm talking about you and me. Maybe all of these principles - as they're outlined by others who must know better (they have a book with their face on it, after all) come at too much sacrifice. Maybe they require too significant an investment of time or (dare I say?) money.
Or, could it be that, maybe, just maybe, those principles are not right for you?
Now, let me be perfectly clear. Yes, Oli Hille has written another self-help book. Sure, it's got a catchy title: CREATING THE PERFECT LIFESTYLE. Yes, it's got a hip, happening glossy cover complete with the obligatorily persuasive sales pitch ("must have book of the century!") that always somehow just manages to catch my eye. And, yes, it even has the author's happy mug plastered all over that white backdrop, smiling his successful smile like only a successfully-smiled self-help guru can in today's `price point' era.
But the similarities to Hille's book and so much of what's been written before stops there.
Whereas other authors tend to deal mostly in platitudes and success stories that may not have an awful lot in common with everyday people, Hille's philosophy is one healthily grounded by an exceptional work ethic, a disciplined approach to life's opportunities, and a no-nonsense application of faith (both in one's self AND a higher power) to transform your life. That's refreshing. What he's accomplished here in no short order is to capture a lifetime's worth of really good advice - I'm talking extremely worthwhile insight - and created a functioning workbook that every man, woman, and child can find value in and reap rewards from. His advice isn't so much about being-the-best-you-can-be, not so much as so many other books of this type tend to promise in exchange for the cover price. What Hille promises isn't so much about maximizing the best revenue or capitalizing on the best risks. Rather, it's about teaching individuals how to establish and maintain a personal lifestyle that - with good ol' fashioned elbow grease - can put A-N-Y-O-N-E on the path to fulfilling your dreams.
The largest part of Hille's approach underscores what so few people genuinely understand about life: while success has a traceable beginning, it's essentially without measure. That's because success continues to deliver rewards to those that the truly successful person has touched long after he's gone. Success is one of the only forces in nature that can't be contained in a bottle, though Hille does an admirable job breaking it down into workable components for any reader. Finding that niche in the world and securing your successful lifestyle is as much philosophy as it is philanthropy - as much playing as it is coaching - but it all begins when you build your solid foundation around goals, processes, and individual achievement. I can't imagine how many lives could've been more productive with the benefit of these simple but oft-overlooked (and undervalued) lessons.
Be forewarned, though: success ain't easy. Hille knows that as well as anyone else, and he speaks to these challenges with each chapter, offering up his suggestions for proactive living with the kind of rational common sense all to absent from so much of today's education. To great effect, he shares his own successes and failures with great candor and a sense of humility. Also - only as a warning to those who may be put off by such talk - he draws parallels from all walks of life, especially from the word of God. He understands how faith serves as an inspiration to each of us on the path to realizing our dreams, and he isn't afraid to include a few Bible verses for good measure. Disclaimer: you aren't required to believe in God, even though he demonstrates God's happy to believe in you.)
What others have said in their reviews here is far more insightful than anything I feel I can add. Yes, this is absolutely the kind of book I wish someone had given me forty years ago ... or even thirty years ago ... or twenty years ago ... heck, I would've settled for this five years ago! And, yes, the book could serve as a wonderful primer to either high schoolers or college-aged young'uns by helping to point them in the right direction - perhaps even one of their own choosing, if you can imagine that. I know that I'm emailing a link to all of my friends and family right after I post this review. And, for the record, I'll be happy to pay the price for any in my close circle!)
In the interest of fairness, I'm pleased to share that the author graciously provided me with an advance electronic copy of CREATING THE PERFECT LIFESTYLE in order for me to complete this review ... and I thank him for doing it!