Book Review: How High Will You Climb?

How High Will You Climb?: Determining Your Success By Cultivating The Right Attitude, by John C. Maxwell

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest book review.]

Although the title was certainly not abridged, the book as a whole is an abridged (about 150 pages long) version of the author’s previous book The Winning Attitude, which happens to be a book by the author I have not read [1]. From what I can tell from this book, though, is that it follows many of the patterns of Maxwell’s work in being strong in numbered lists, in featuring a superficial analysis of biblical references as well as a focus on business-related metaphors, including an extended one on the attitude of planes, which forms an entrance into the subject of attitudes in general. If you are fond of Maxwell’s writings in general, have not read his longer book on the important subject of attitudes, and want a short book that is long on practical (if somewhat equivocal) advice, this is a good book to read.

I would like to take a bit of time in discussing the equivocal nature of this book’s advice, and the sort of flaws it demonstrates in self-help writing in general. On the one hand, this book is all about having a positive attitude and avoiding negative people, but on the other this book is deeply critical about the thought patterns of people who are not successful, blaming those who are not successful for being at fault through a bad attitude. Likewise, this book manages to deal in an intriguing way on a variety of matters, but to present a good attitude as fundamentally a denial of historical analysis of a great deal of reflection. There is a lot of interest in this book, but most of it is on the surface, whether it is looking at the wordplay between different definitions of attitude or the interplay between the force of circumstances and the responsibility we have to choose how to best deal with the reality that we face.

The real value of a book like this is in provoking thought and in providing encouragement to those who already want to do what this book urges people to do. A book like this is like a good and wise friend who cheers us up and who gives us good advice about keeping a good attitude in a situation that we can’t do anything about, giving us some help in keeping our spirits up and working hard and connected with others so that we may best succeed in our endeavors. This is not to say that this is a perfect book, but rather that it can help provide encouragement for those who are inclined to think positively, even if it has enough flaws (especially being a very brief book, lacking in the sort of supporting detail the larger book presumably contains) that someone who is not inclined to be very positive would probably not appreciate or gain a lot of value from this book. As a short book that is sunny and clever, this is a book that will probably find a large and appreciative audience, hopefully intrigued enough to find and read the larger book for even more encouragement. This book encourages its readers to find encouraging and loving friends who bring out the best in us; that is advice any of us should follow when it comes to both the people we know, as well as the books we read.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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