The i Factor: How Building A Great Relationship With Yourself Is The Key To A Happy, Successful Life, by Van Moody
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Being somewhat familiar with the author  and with the general circle of writers to which the author belongs, with the concerns about identity in the face of difficult pasts , and having looked at the book’s focus on the self, I had some serious concerns about the book as I began to read it. Being very familiar with reading books that are not written with me in mind at all, I was not sure that this book would be able to avoid writing from a perspective that would alienate me as a reader. However, much to my surprise if not exactly my pleasure, I found out that this book was written precisely with me in mind in a way that I seldom see in writing, and I found the book to be rigorously biblical in its approach. This is not a book I saw coming, but is certainly one of the finest books I have ever read in the general subject of personal improvement. The author’s perspective as a black man from a broken family gives him some instant credibility in writing about the need for forgiveness and rising above difficulty, and he deserves a great deal of praise for writing about self-improvement and personal responsibility in a day and age where many people like blaming others for their failures.
This book is one whose title and subtitle are poor preparations for its contents. While a reader might pick up the book and look at its cover and think that the author is simply looking to spout of some contemporary new age ideas about self-esteem, the author quickly disabuses the reader of that notion when one reads the book. The examples chosen from biblical history, American history, and general culture are immensely powerful and the author does not mince words on the sort of people he is writing to. Over and over again the author talks about broken families, personal histories full of immense trauma and abuse, and the historical experience of oppression as being experiences that must be overcome and seen through the light of God’s purposes rather than chains that fate someone to failure in life. The author talks about the struggles to rise above the past, to achieve long-delayed dreams and goals, and how one needs to be persistent and optimistic in the face of difficulties. Chapters include discussions about the layers of people, the importance of identity and integrity, the need to know one’s true self is based on what God has created in us and not what we are doing at any particular moment, the importance of wilderness experiences as the training ground for greatness, the importance of building the roots of success from the inside out, the power of perseverance and perspective, and two chapters at the end that give seven steps to greatness.
One finishes this book with a lot of value as a reader. One finishes with a sense of who the author is as a person, a man who has achieved a great deal of success in life and who is tired of seeing his own people–or people in general–who are held back by negativity or a desire to blame others for failure to rise above the difficulties of life. The advice and counsel of this book is from someone who knows that life is full of challenges and that some people will not get the advantages of others but can use their experiences and backgrounds as a source of strength, of resilience and empathy for others, as a training ground for faith and trust in God and the development of resourcefulness, that others may not have because they have lacked the experience of being tried and tested through immense difficulty. Not everyone could pull of a book like this one, but the author makes it clear that he speaks from the point of view who has struggled with his own identity and who wants to see the reader succeed in life, regardless of where they have been and where they are now. And that sort of goodwill and genuine concern is both impossible to fake and also of immense importance to the target readers of this book, namely people like me. Regardless of whether you come to this book looking for encouragement in dealing with a difficult personal background or whether one has found a certain amount of success in life but struggles with discontent and with patterns of self-sabotage, this is a book that offers the reader practical encouragement as well as thoughtfully expressed historical discussion and personal anecdotes, all of which make for a book that is concise at 250 pages, and even closes with the balanced approach that the thoughtful reader will want about the need both to find oneself and lose oneself simultaneously, a paradox that only deepens the book’s achievement.
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