Monday, January 19, 2009

We Are Not in Kansas Any More – Review of “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” by M.S. White, Ph.D., J.D.

Dr. Myra White is a psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is also a gifted story teller. She has very cleverly and very effectively used the well known story of the Wizard of Oz to craft a metaphor for demonstrating how women and men in a wide variety of disciplines have achieved success. Her book, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road – A Harvard Psychologist’s Guide to Becoming a Superstar,” is both practical and delightful. I plan to purchase multiple copies to give to friends and colleagues who are students of achieving excellence.

Using the Yellow Brick Road that Dorothy and her entourage used to make their way to the Emerald City as a template for a journey to success, Dr. White breaks the sojourn into nine discrete steps. She illustrates principles emblematic of each of these stages by relating vignettes from the lives of successful individuals as diverse as Oprah Winfrey, Sam Walton, Lance Armstrong, Margaret Thatcher and Richard Branson, et al.

Here, in a nutshell, are the 9 stages of the journey that Dr. White has extracted from the peregrinations of Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion in the Land of Oz.

Step 1 – Know Yourself

  • The key to becoming a superstar lies in understanding our mini-strengths and identifying what we passionately care about in this world.

Step 2 – Know Where You Are Going

  • Superstars know what they want to achieve. To become superstars we must commit ourselves to a mission and then pursue it relentlessly.

Step 3 – Know How to Get There

  • Our ability to become a superstar depends on more than doing a good job. We must also understand how to build power and influence.

Step 4 – Know How to Create Your Personal Success Syndrome

  • To become a superstar we must strategically use the personal powers that we have to acquire more powers.

Step 5 – Know How to Give and Get Help

  • No man or woman is an island. Superstars don’t do it alone. They have lots of help from others and they remember in turn to help others.

Step 6 – Know How to Manage Your Emotions

  • Our emotions can be our biggest stumbling blocks to becoming a superstar. Understanding how to control our fears and anxieties is essential to becoming a superstar.

Step 7 – Know How to Manage Your Performance

  • There are key times when we must deliver our best performances. To do this we must learn techniques that let us perform at our peak when it counts most.

Step 8 – Know How to Deal with Risk and Adversity

  • The journey to become a superstar is never easy. There are always unanticipated roadblocks and periods of deep despair when it seems that we will never succeed. To survive we must learn how to overcome failure and believe in ourselves.

Step 9 – Know How to Have Fun

  • Superstars love what they do. We must choose a path that we find fun and expresses the joy of who we are and what makes us special.

The pages of this book are filled with pithy stories that highlight how superstars who are familiar to us have put these principles into practice. One such story grabbed me, because it showed a superstar, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, in a light I had never seen him in before:

“In 1979, he went to Paris to find someone to set up a French subsidiary for Virgin. There he met Patrick Zelnick at a lunch with the French head of Polygram. Richard immediately saw that Patrick, despite his wild, distracted Woody Allen look, would be a good person to run Virgin’s French subsidiary. After lunch, Patrick couldn’t remember where he had parked his car. Rather than rush off to another meeting, Richard spent four hours helping Patrick search the narrow Paris streets for his car. Before they parted, he suggested that Patrick come and see him the next time that he was in London. A month later, Patrick showed up in London and agreed to run Virgin’s French subsidiary.” (Page 112)

I love this story because it demonstrates what I like to think of as “Servant Leadership” as an irreplaceable ingredient in the recipe for successfully following the Yellow Brick Road to superstardom.

This book comes with my strong recommendation. I am confident that you will enjoy the journey of reading it – and your little dog too!!!


Al Link

1 comment:

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