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4.6 out of 5 stars
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My guess is that the value of this book will depend almost entirely on two factors: the extent to which a reader is receptive to the lessons that this contemporary fable offers, and, the extent to which a reader applies them. Spencer Johnson has written eleven bestsellers, most of which examine especially complicated human challenges and problems, suggesting common-sense resolutions of them. For example, how to use 60-second interactions to manage others more effectively (The One Minute Manager, co-authored with Ken Blanchard, 1982), how to make better decisions ("Yes" or "No," 1993), how to manage change in work and life (Who Moved My Cheese, 1998), and the secret to enjoying work and life more (The Present, 2003). The subtitle of Peaks and Valleys indicates what it's about: how to make "good and bad times work for you - at work and in life."

Johnson introduces a young man, Michael Brown, who is "in a pretty tough spot." He meets someone recommended by a friend, Ann Carr, in a small café who agrees to shares a story with him on the single condition "that if he found it valuable, he would share it with others." He agrees. The details of the story are best revealed in the book. Suffice to say that, over time, Michael proceeds through a sequence of "peaks" and "valleys" and, when the story ends, is an old man who continues to share the story with others, as he agreed to do long ago.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, "I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." I have no idea whether or not Johnson was aware of this observation when he began to write the first of his eleven books but it is certainly relevant to what he shares in them. What Michael learns and then shares with others seems so obvious, so simple, perhaps even simpleminded. (The same can also be said of The Golden Rule and countless other by-now familiar observations.) Soon after they meet, Ann tells Michael, "I found that if you want to use the story to deal with the ups and downs that come at you, it helps if you listen with your heart and head, and fill in the story with your own experience to see what is true for you...Some people get very little from the story, while others get a great deal! It's not the story; it's what you take from it that's so powerful. That's up to you, of course."

The same could be said of this book.
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on 25 March 2009
Dr. Johnson has created another masterpiece.

"Peaks and Valleys" follows the highly successful format of "Who Moved My Cheese ?" ; profound messages delivered simply.

This book is easy to read, yet leaves you with a sense that something very special is written between the lines.

At its basic level, this is a simple story, drawn from ordinary life experiences. Beneath the surface it presents the reader with practical values in hope and positivity that are the essence of Dr. Johnson's work.

Highly recommended.
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on 8 December 2013
This book i was not expecting much as read many self help books but this book is like no other it became i could not put it down identifying with everything in there so easy to read and so well done recommend highly
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on 15 September 2013
I find that while reading most business books, I will take some of the lessons taught in the book, those from which I find inspiration, and apply them to my work. Unfortunately, most of the time the lessons don't have a great lasting impression and after a few weeks I am influenced by a different business book, or I find the changes difficult to incorporate with one particular aspect of my work and they inevitably get dropped entirely.

The difference with this book is that there are far fewer prescriptive lessons, you don't get told how to handle your email workload, or what to do about a specific character type at the office; but instead read a pleasant story about simple virtues, the lessons of which are more readily adaptable to anybody's working or home life. Like Who Moved My Cheese, it's a quick, easy read with lessons which are relatively simple to apply to your work.
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on 8 January 2014
There isn't anything for me to dislike about this book.
It's short and simple, a lot of common sense yet also thought provoking.
I know a whole bunch of people that might benefit from this book; not being a fan of self-help books, I'm not one to evangelize - but if asked, I will share.
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on 14 December 2010
'Peaks and Valleys' is a book that could be described as self development advice in a story within a story. The full title is actually 'Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You - At Work And In Life'. It was written by Spencer Johnson, M.D., author of the bestseller 'Who Moved My Cheese'.

'Peaks and Valleys' is a short book and easy to read. As such, some may consider it to be a simplistic self help book. However, if you truly contemplate the essence of it - a wonderful story within a story and one that you can keep passing from one person to another - you soon realise its true power.

The author explains that the 'Peaks' and 'Valleys' are actually the highs and lows that you feel in your work and personal life. These could last seconds or years and are totally connected, with one having a significant effect on the other. His analogy of 'Peaks and Valleys' to your heartbeat is interesting: the fact that you need the ups and downs of life in order to be alive.

The book covers self development advice that can be used in virtually any situation you may find yourself in. It is suitable for anyone (adults and teenagers) who wonders about the ups and downs of life and how best to deal with them.

Even if you already know a fair amount about self development, it is always useful to see things from a different perspective or in a new light. The lessons the author touches on in this parable format can be used in any context, right across your social and work or business life for self empowerment. They include:

* How to find a Peak in every Valley
* The power of truly following your vision
* The importance of trying new pathways
* The influence of self development mentors
* How you can control your Peaks and Valleys
* What the source of fear is and how to deal with it
* How to find and use the good that is hidden in the bad
* The fear and doubt of moving out of your comfort zone
* The importance of not taking people and things for granted
* How to see new things by changing the way you look at them
* How people you encounter give you gifts without you realising
* The importance of allowing others to help you to find your way
* Why you might consider your Valleys to be your Peaks and vice versa
* How you intentionally and unintentionally create your own good and bad times
* Why both Peaks and Valleys are essential to your overall emotional health and emotional wealth

In summary

This book is all about how to use a Peaks and Valleys approach to all aspects of your life to become more calm, be more at peace and have more success overall. If you are at an all time low and are looking for some self development advice, this book will definitely help. If you are at the pinnacle of your career or life, read this now while you are at the top as those moments do not last forever.
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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2009
This is another lovely tale that is enjoyable to read and has a lasting impact.

It is a great journey and teaches you to always go searching for what you are looking for in life. Don't be afraid but take a risk, go out and realise your dreams instead of staying where you are and never knowing any different.

Your search will take you to new places where you may well as in the story meet a wise old man and from his vantage point get a clearer view on where you have come from and where you can go. It won't necessarily be an easy journey but if you don't take it then how will you know if it was worth trying.

How many times have you thought, if only and what would have happened it I'd?????

This book shows you how to make that journey.

It tells you not just to rely on your own experiences. Go and search for your wise person with experiences to share. They will help guide you to a new path that is exciting and really enjoyable to travel along.
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If you aren't interested in reading a parable inside of a story to gain insights into this book's practical lessons, you can

(1) just read page 90 or

(2) read the book of John from the Bible and pray for guidance.

I believe the latter will do you more good.

I graded the book down because accomplishing the psychological state that Dr. Johnson describes requires either spiritual support or mastery of many more skills than are described in this book.

Here's an example:

"Uncover the good that is hidden in a bad time, and use it soon to your advantage."

The fact that the good aspect of difficulties isn't obvious should be a clue that this isn't easy to do.

With Bible reading and prayer, I find that most people can become adept at making this kind of change pretty quickly. Without those resources, it takes a lot of training and exercises to make people adept at seeing opportunity in difficult circumstances. This book won't do it for you.

I do agree that it's better to set your mood independently of your circumstances and to use an objective, untroubled mind to determine how to contribute more to others in a loving, constructive way.

The book's writing (independent of the content) is simple, charming, and pleasant. Although the book lacks the simplicity and visceral connection of Who Moved My Cheese?, I found it to be well designed for displaying the big theme messages that it emphasizes.

But I can offer hope. Dr. Johnson usually rewrites his books with each printing. The tenth printing will undoubtedly be a lot better than this one.
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on 14 July 2009
This is a great book to read. It is written in a simple and understandable way. Everything is common sense but people seem to forget that life does not have to be difficult and that we are the ones making things difficult. The book gives you great advise on how to deal with problems. Love it!
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2009
I have become used to Spencer Johnson's book being insightful and provocative. "Peaks and Valleys" met my expectations - it is easy to read, challenging in content, and potentially life-changing. This is the power of allegory at its contemporary best.
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