The 2013 Business Book Awards
Business Book of the Year
Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell | Portfolio
Richard Shell literally teaches the course on success at Wharton, so who better than he to write the book? Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success is an even-handed, well-reasoned, well-researched, and well-written book that should find a home on the shelves, and in the hearts and minds, of anyone who wants to be more successful (and who doesn’t?).
It is purposeful and personably written, almost as if you’re hearing from an old friend. And, like the man who wrote it, it is also incredibly modest—which is probably why you won’t see it appearing on many other “best of” lists this year. It is not a very “sexy” book, but it makes up for it in erudition, practicality, applicability, and if you’re open to it, profundity.
The profundity does not come cheap, however. This is not a book of encouraging yet empty slogans. It is not a quick fix or instant success formula. It does not tell you how to achieve fame or fortune. In fact, it warns that the unexamined pursuit of such things will turn you into a success addict—a hungry ghost—unable to feed an ever-expanding appetite for status symbols.
It does not succumb to the cult of ambition or the supposed power of positive thinking. In fact, writing about “The Positive Value of Negative Emotions,” Shell tells us, “… research shows that mildly depressed or pessimistic people tend to see reality more clearly than optimists,” and “The price of enlightenment seems to be suffering, not smiling.”
Yet it is, in the end, an extremely uplifting book, not because it is filled with motivation and inspiration, but because it gives you the tools to motivate and inspire yourself.
It will require some work from you—the reader; Shell will have you searching inside yourself and answering some often-difficult questions about what you truly want and why. After all, as Shell write, “If you allow others to define your goals for you, then there is a pretty good chance you will end up holding a prize you did not choose and do not want.”
However, if you can figure out and define exactly what you’re looking for, and we believe reading Springboard can help you find that moment of clarity, then you can start to work toward finding and achieving it—the ultimate measure of success.