Saturday, March 30, 2013

#89 / Self-Help

I read a lot more book reviews than I read books. In These Times, a great political magazine, recently carried a review of Sidetracked, a new book by Francesca Gino. Gino is on the faculty of the Harvard Business School. Sidetracked is what might be called a "self-help" book.  

I haven't read Sidetracked (and I doubt I will). I do, however, recommend the review, by Richard Greenwald, cleverly titled, "No Self-Help Wanted." Greenwald is a writer who describes his efforts as focused on "the intersection of work, urban culture, economics, business and American politics." Here is his takeaway summary of the message in Sidetracked

[Gino's] logic contains a basic, and serious, internal flaw endemic to self-help literature: It assumes that the only thing holding us back is ourselves.

You can see what I like about this review (reserving my judgment about the book itself). We live in a "political world." In other words, we live in a world we create by cooperative action, not by individual endeavor. It all goes back to that "unit of analysis" idea.

If you find yourself as hesitant and unenthusiastic about the "self-help" genre as I do, it turns out there is a reason for that. Greenwald notes the problem. It's not just about the individual.

We are in this together!

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