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Chapter 1 gets you started by allowing you to choose your own life.
I can get behind a book that promises to give readers that kind of power! Author G. Richard Shell is actually referring to his Six Lives Exercise which he presents in his opening chapter of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success. The goal of the exercise is to assess where you are at in your life, and whether it is the life you would choose if you had control, carte blanche. The Six Lives Exercise offers brief descriptions of careers/lifestyles--Teacher, Banker, Wealthy Investor, Stone Mason, Tennis Pro, Nonprofit Executive--, and asks that you rank them 1-6 in terms of success. Shell, though a professor of Legal Studies, Business Ethics, and Management at the Wharton School, brings his English literature to bear on these description as he fleshes out these characters one by one, giving each a complex mix of differing professional and private successes and failures.
It is your life story you are writing, after all.
I won't disclose which of the options is most often ranked #1, but Shell makes it clear that it doesn't really matter. (Though there is one that is chosen most commonly, and I too put that one at the head of my list.) Because no matter which life his students chose, he says, "I often challenge them with a question: if the [xx] represents success to you, what steps might you take right now to move your life closer to that ideal?"
Then Shell puts this question to readers: "Think about the six profiles again and imagine you had one (and only one) child. Then imagine that you must pick one (and only one) of these lives for that only child to live out." This new perspective did change my choices, but not my #1 choice.
Shell concludes the first chapter with this reminder:
[Y]ou have begun the important process of clarifying and choosing the success values you want to embrace for the next stage of your life. It is your life story you are writing, after all. So you get to select the character traits and motivations for the person playing the central role.
The reason I chose this exercise to open this review is because it's a fine exemplar of the interesting take Shell gives to an oft-addressed subject, success.
To read more about the lessons and insight on success in Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, the full review and entry form is over on KnowledgeBlocks.