Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Why I Don’t Read Introductions

Today, I decided to get a library card at the Oxford Public Library. I cancelled my Scribd subscription, since membership is increasing. While getting books for my youngest, I saw a Toni Morrison book, Recitatif. Checking it out, I was excited. It’s short, so I knew I could read it quickly. 


When I returned home, I curled up in my bed to start reading. I decided to read the introduction. Sighs. The introduction had quotes from the actual text. I kept reading. Then, I glanced ahead and noticed that the introduction was half the book. 😠

So, I stopped reading the introduction. Now, the joy of discovering this book is gone. I can’t help but to determine who’s black and who’s white because of that discussion in the introduction. Unconsciously, I keep trying to figure that out and ignoring the actual plot of the short.

Normally, I skip the introductions of texts. They often have biases based on the writer’s understanding of the text. Introductions give away so much of a text in their explanations that it can ruin the experience for me. 

So, I’m curious. Do you read the introduction of a book? 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Guest Post: It's All in Your Head by Joseph D. Pianka MD


Behind the scenes look at how my book came about and the first scene of the book:


The events described in the opening chapter really happened, and I tried to describe what I was going through to the best of my ability. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted each of us in different ways, but it also affected our way of life and perceptions as a society in general. Our lives haven't been the same since, and we seem so far from getting back on track. Furthermore, the virus, in terms of variants, simply hasn't gone away. I believe those who suffered the loss of loved ones or became personally ill were most impacted; however, those in the healthcare industry were hit particularly hard as well. I think, in a moment of recognition of my own human frailty, in what for me was a perfect storm during what seemed the darkest moments of the early days of the pandemic, I unexpectedly discovered my own path to salvation in writing.
This also involved some pretty heavy-duty soul searching, confronting some inner demons that had been hanging around for far too long, and the eventual re-discovery of all that was most important to me; thereby, allowing me the opportunity to start anew and grow. There is an old saying, “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” This idea, combined with my physician instincts if you will, kicked into overdrive, and I decided to lay it all on the line, hoping my experiences would ultimately benefit some of the patients I cared for in my practice who might face unique challenges of their own. And why stop there? Why not lay it on the line for all the world to see? My personal philosophy has always been that I would never regret the things I tried and failed, including writing this book, but would always regret opportunities and experiences I let pass me by. I sincerely hope this touches some lives in a positive way. If so, I would consider it a success. I’m donating all profits from book sales to Ukraine relief.

On the significance of my cover art:

This is actually an interesting story. When my book was first published, I wasn't crazy about the original cover. It never moved me, but being an absolute inexperienced novice in the writing and publishing space, what did I know? Plus, it had a retro feel that I thought might be complementary to my numerous references to past events and distant memories. The idea of rejecting it and waiting months for a revision seemed more than I could bear, so I eventually accepted it. It was publicist Marika Flatt, who, during our initial conversation, point blank said, “Hey, what's with this cover? This won't do and has to go.” I immediately knew she was right. It didn't reflect me or the message I was trying to send whatsoever.
So, I was introduced to the graphics company Mexelina. I sent them a brief summary of the book, bio, and what I had in mind, and they absolutely nailed it, first shot, with very few modifications. The concept of fitting the puzzle piece into the brain made up of stars against the backdrop of an infinite universe of possibilities is the vision of the book in a nutshell. If you combine the apparent overall dark color scheme with the faint glimmer of light on the horizon, this encapsulates absolutely everything I wanted to convey. Finally, the silhouette of the individual on the rock could essentially be me on numerous trips and excursions throughout my life but could also represent absolutely any individual who holds the book in their hands. 

Top ten things you didn't know about the book:

1.   Although there are many song lyrics directly quoted or referred to in the text, there are many more buried and not referenced within the text as well.
2.   The book has inspired the concept of a medical documentary addressing provider burnout now in the early production phase.
3.   The earliest intent of the work was intended to be a simple handout for my patients including some helpful nutrition and exercise tips.
4.   The book was not initially intended to be a bio-narrative. 
5.   Completing the publication process has been my greatest professional challenge to date but also one of my greatest learning experiences.
6.   Even after publication, I have a difficult time considering myself a writer.
7.   I have writer insecurity.
8.   Although I don't fear criticism or questioning of my beliefs or ideas, I do care what people think.
9.   Most patients who have read the book and provided me with feedback were most impressed by my willingness to express vulnerability.
10.  I was approached by an individual who received and started reading the book on what she described as her darkest day, and it helped her eventually find her way. For this reason, I will always be grateful and consider the book a great success.

About the Book: 

It's All In Your Head

A Guide to Health, Fitness, and Discovery in the New Normal

by Joseph D. Pianka, MD

The world is full of sexy advertisements, revolutionary gadgets, and cutting-edge diets which all promise instant results. But these ads, gadgets, and diets target a small subset of young, highly motivated, advanced enthusiasts, and they often don’t address the real health and fitness issues that plague a larger aspect of society: obesity, anxiety and depression, liver disease, substance abuse, poor self-care practices. The vast majority of people often don’t have the time to complete fitness regimens or the personalized motivation to stick with specialized diets.

Joseph D. Pianka wants to start a conversation about everyday concepts that have made an enormous difference for both himself and his patients. He strives to reach as many people as possible who may be overwhelmed, confused, or intimidated by the abundance of diet and fitness regimens available and to educate and motivate them to discover fitness practices which complement their lives and balance among all the regular activities they enjoy. It's All in Your Head was written directly for everyday individuals with busy lives and varied hobbies. Rather than another "how to" manual, it is a "why to" guide through the complicated space of fitness and nutrition. Incorporating the fundamental principles universal to successful diet and fitness programs and teaching self-motivation skills, It’s All in Your Head unlocks doors to previously unrecognized potential and the ability to maintain fitness dreams. 

About the Author 

Joseph D. Pianka, MD, FACP, FACG, has been a board-certified practicing gastroenterologist in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, for over twenty years. He has always found ways to rise above the dark moments medical practitioners face through his athletic hobbies and focus on family, but early in the COVID-19 pandemic, he fell into a spiral at the prospect of being unable to care for those who depended on him. With a television announcing early statistics about pandemic mortality playing in the background while he learned that a significant portion of his practice—and ability to care for patients—was being restricted, he had an emotional breakdown. Facing physician burnout and depression, Pianka decided to sit down and write an outline about staying fit and healthy in a seemingly chaotic existence, and he kept writing until the sun came out (literally and metaphorically). What began as a simple reference guide for his patients, conceptualized prior to the COVID- 19 pandemic, evolved into an unexpected second career as an inspirational writer. 



Thursday, August 11, 2022

Book Review: How to Be Better at Almost Everything by Pat Flynn

How to Be Better At Almost Everything book cover

Book: How to Be Better at Almost Everything: Learn Anything Quickly, Stack Your Skills, Dominate
Author: Pat Flynn
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟(5 Stars)


How to Be Better at Almost Everything fits perfectly in my theme for this year: Transformation. I turned 40 this year, and I am working on being the best version of myself. Having been familiar with Pat because of his podcast, I decided to download it via Scribd.

How to Be Better at Almost Anything intrigued me because it suggested skill stacking. Pat provides autobiographical details to illustrate how to successfully get better at a different set of skills, while not being a perfectionist. I like the idea of being a generalist, as Pat describes himself. The ideology surrounding generalism contrasts with being a specialist. In my new role, I am understanding more and more the importance of having a generalist approach to my role. 

Flynn also reiterated the importance of the 80/20 ideology, but he applied it to skill stacking with the suggestion to limit skill development to nothing more than 80 percent. Interestingly enough, I think that the idea of getting good at tasks/skills that are needed is very helpful. I have found myself focusing on improving very specific skillsets or learning new skills for specific tasks at work. How to Be Better at Almost Everything is truly useful in this aspect.

What I like the most about How to Be Better at Almost Everything is its practicality and that it is not being sold as a quick fix. Having listened to and read a lot of self-help books, I believe this book is perfect for people in new roles or who are involved in unfamiliar tasks. This book helps you figure out how to get ahead while completing what you need to do. I also believe people who are productivity addicts, like myself, will appreciate a new perspective to complete their goals.

ABOUT THE BOOK

It's one of the biggest lies you've probably heard your entire life: Mastering one specific skill set is the key to success. That may have been true 20 years ago, but in today's global economy, being the best at a single thing just doesn't cut it anymore.

Think about those people who somehow manage to be amazing at everything they do - the multi-millionaire CEO with the bodybuilder physique or the rock star with legions of adoring fans. We all quietly envy them from time to time - how do they manage to be so much better at life?

It’s tempting to believe they've achieved greatness because they're the very best in their field... or think that maybe it's just dumb luck. But it's much more than that. They've defied traditional perceptions of success by acquiring and applying multiple skills to make themselves valuable to others. They’ve become generalists.

In How to Be Better at Almost Everything, best-selling author, fitness expert, entrepreneur, and professional business coach Pat Flynn shares the secrets to learning (almost) every skill, from marketing to music to martial arts to writing and relationships, teaching how to combine interests to achieve greatness in any field. His direct, “Generalist” approach to self-improvement gives you the tools you need to make your mark on the world and make buckets of money - without losing your soul.

Discover how to:

Learn any skill with only an hour of practice a day through repetition and resistance.
Package all your passions into a single toolkit for success with skill stacking
Turn those passions into paychecks by transforming yourself into a person of interest.

In today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving world, it’s no longer good enough to have a single specialty. To really get ahead you need a diverse portfolio of hidden talents you can pull from your back pocket at a moment’s notice. How to Be Better at Almost Everything teaches you how to gain a competitive edge in both your professional life and personal life.

Purchase the How to Be Better at Almost Everything by Pat Flynn

Friday, July 01, 2022

Book Review: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

Book: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
Author: Robert Maurer
Format: eBook
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟(5 Stars)
Every since I visited the Toyota Plant in Mississippi, I have been fascinated with their productivity systems, especially Kaizen. Therefore, when I discovered One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, I knew I would enjoy it. This book fed into my addiction to productivity and understanding of how to implement changes to enhance my productivity. 

The book is a quick read, and it focuses adequately addresses the concept of Kaizen, a Japanese phenomenon that emphasizes continuous improvement. 

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way highlights five specific strategies to apply Kaizen to your life. Each of the strategies has a chapter that explains it in detail. These strategies are:
  • Taking small actions
  • Asking small questions
  • Thinking small thoughts
  • Solving small problems
  • Bestowing small rewards
  • Recognizing small but crucial moments others ignore.
This book provides numerous books to help illustrate the significance of making small changes to enhance your productivity and life. I liked this book because it shared the importance of incremental change to ensure that it lasts. We often read self-help books that recommend drastic changes, but these books often fail to help the reader make sustainable change. I am glad that Dr. Maurer adequately tackles how to make sustainable change in this book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Improve your life fearlessly with this essential guide to kaizen—the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady steps.

The philosophy is simple: Great change is made through small steps. And the science is irrefutable: Small steps circumvent the brain's built-in resistance to new behavior.

No matter what the goal—losing weight, quitting smoking, writing a novel, starting an exercise program, or meeting the love of your life—the powerful technique of kaizen is the way to achieve it. Written by psychologist and kaizen expert Dr. Robert Maurer, One Small Step Can Change Your Life is the simple but potent guide to easing into new habits—and turning your life around. Learn how to overcome fear and procrastination with his 7 Small Steps—including how to Think Small Thoughts, Take Small Actions, and Solve Small Problems—to steadily build your confidence and make insurmountable-seeming goals suddenly feel doable.

Dr. Maurer also shows how to visualize virtual change so that real change can come more easily. Why small rewards lead to big returns. And how great discoveries are made by paying attention to the little details most of us overlook. His simple regiment is your path to continuous improvement for anything from losing weight to quitting smoking, paying off debt, or conquering shyness and meeting new people. Rooted in the two-thousand-year-old wisdom of the Tao Te Ching—“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”—here is the way to change your life without fear, without failure, and start on a new path of easy, continuous improvement.


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