Title: It is Not Out of Reach: Your Stepping Stone to Success
Author: Christiana de-Sammy
Publisher: Sunflower Press, 2011
Reviewer: Jenni Middleton, editor, Nursing Times
What was it like?
I will be honest – I am a little sceptical of “life improvement books” so I approached this like a typically cynical journalist. Nevertheless, I have persevered with a few in my life, and always got something out of them so I was eager to open the pages. What was intriguing about this particular take on “how to discover your hidden formidable power” is that it is written by someone who has worked as a midwife and nurse, who has also cared for people palliatively. That makes it stand out from the usual fodder of motivational texts.
What were the highlights?
A lot of the seven chapters (or stepping stones as the author likes to call them) are reworks of the stuff you may find in other books of this nature – time management, loving yourself before you love others and finding happiness within. But there are a lot of practical how-to exercises that reinforce the messages being given. For example, in the time management section, you have to keep a log of your time and work out how you are spending your hours. In other chapters, you have to make a list of things you are grateful for every day or things you want to achieve, and a plan as to how you will get there. There’s nothing particularly new in this, but the pace of the book with tips, activities and summaries at the end of each chapter make it seem very achievable and practical.
Strengths and weaknesses?
There are some nice anecdotes about human beings who have overcome adversity with the strength of their minds and spirits. For example, it talks about how Victor Frankl survived the concentration camp by keeping other people’s spirits up, and explains how important it is to do things for others. It says that by believing you will escape a situation, you often make yourself achieve that. It also points to a French doctor working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Emile Coue, who is said to have successfully treated patients with various conditions, including rheumatism and seemingly incurable tumours, by encouraging them to repeat the affirmation: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”
While those insights are valuable and interesting, I would have liked to have seen Ms de-Sammy pull more on her own life experiences of treating patients palliatively and give us some of her own experiences (without breaching patient confidentiality of course). There are a group of case studies at the end, but they lack the personal connection to her, which I would have loved to read about. Having talked about her career when introducing the book, I think more needs to be made of her nursing background.
The only other weakness is that this book is printed with a lot of different typefaces – as a magazine editor, that is a bit irritating – but if you like your texts to feel jaunty and informal, almost chatty, this is for you, and you’ll love it.
Who should read it?
Anyone who wants to improve their time management skills, learn to love themselves a bit more and how to be kinder to others. But leave your cynicism at the door and trade it for a pen and pad – there is a lot of activities to engage you in this book. I don’t think this book will change my life because a lot of the principles are elements of my life anyway – but I do think it may make you look at the world with a fresh pair of eyes, especially if you haven’t read one of these sorts of texts before. It’s positive and uplifting, and will make you feel a little less guilty every time you say no. Enjoy.