What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey

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What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey

Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A practical guide to dealing with the fear of failure, backed by frank details from the author's own life. Thought-provoking.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 280 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Capstone
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857083074

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I've read many a self-help book in the hope that it would be useful - and generally been disappointed. I'll confess that I came to What's Stopping You? with no hope and little expectation: the author is a self-confessed failure in more than one occupation and a self-help book junkie. Then there was the question of whether or not the subject was relevant: I've not done badly in my life - some might say that I've done better than I've deserved - and I'm not exactly looking to move mountains at my age. Finally, there was a forward by Luke Johnson, one of the few self-help authors to have seriously annoyed me. It looked as though the book didn't really stand much of a chance - and yet...

I read from curiosity. It's background is the story of a man who appeared to have the potential to achieve great things. In fact he was on the verge of real success on a couple of occasions but then seemed to sabotage himself. It came down to the fact that he had a high fear of failure, with a childhood history which made this all but inevitable. We all sit on the continuum between having a high fear of failure and being highly motivated by achievement: the question is what can be done if you're at the failure end of the scale. It was when I read that you can't change your insecurities - or your history - that I began to relax into the book. This isn't an 'instant fix' book to change your life in a few hours for an insignificant sum of money.

I always thought that people with a fear of failure were those I thought of as risk-averse, who ventured nothing so as to remain secure, but this is far from the truth. Kelsey cites the example of the game of hoopla. You can go for the targets closest to you - and this is what you might expect from those with a high fear of failure - or you can go for the target furthest away. It's not unusual to find that this is what high-FF people do. You see, it's not really a failure, is it, if no one expected that you would succeed? People with a high fear of failure are often the ones who take inappropriate risks. This was a eureka moment for me and I looked at quite few people in a new light.

I'm not going to precis the book as you really do need to read it yourself, but it looks at why people are the way that they are, how they can set goals to move themselves into a more positive situation and how they bring the improvement about. It's positive whilst keeping its feet on the ground and thought-provoking. There are thoughts and quotes from a lot of self-help books but Kelsey hasn't swallowed the content unquestioningly ready to regurgitate it on cue. He's prepared to take the best of it (as for instance with neuro linguistic programming) without feeling that he has to sign up to the movement.

I thought that the book wouldn't have a lot of application for me, but did you see what I did in the first paragraph? I've done better than I deserved and I'm not looking to move mountains. I'm building in reasons or excuses to fail. It's also made me rethink the way that I deal with other people (well, OK, it's an ongoing process...) but it's definitely a book to make you think and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you think that this book might appeal then you might also appreciate What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith which also looks at why you might need to change your approach to life.

Buy What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can by Robert Kelsey at Amazon.com.


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