Jump Start Your Priorities, by John C. Maxwell
This is a book that isn’t particularly deep or demanding on its readers, one that offers a devotional form to the self-help gospel of those who wish to view themselves as highly motivated and successful people. The more I read of Maxwell’s writings, the more concerned I am that he spent so much time as a minister, because this book shows the form of faith-based materials without the content, unless the author’s faith is in business leadership mantras and cliches rather than in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. At any rate, it is not my intent to be hard on this book. I got it from the library simply because I wanted another book by the author to go along with one I had been loaned by a coworker of mine who finds the author somewhat more inspirational than I do, and this book was readily available, and so like Mae West said in “She Done Him Wrong,” I said that this book will do. And so it did. It provided what I expected it to, nothing more and nothing less. It was not meant to provide insights into the author’s character, but meant to motivate the reader, and it may do that for some.
In terms of its contents, this book offers little that is surprising. There are 90 motivational mantras included here, and each day is numbered and given a quote relating to self-leadership and personal motivation and priorities, with a couple of paragraphs or so of text following on the left side of the page, with a short question and space for the reader to write down various thoughts on the right side of the page, in workbook fashion. The various days are filled with excellent quotes, and the author’s insight, if not spectacular, is at least serviceable here. The questions asked are obvious but also worthwhile to answer, and there are often cases where the same topics are discussed several days in a row. The author shows himself to be against debt, as he recognizes it to be a major drag on one’s optimism and motivation, and the author in general writes in very short and direct sentences that are easy to understand and that provide some readers (perhaps) with something that they may not have thought about before about the importance of traditions and family in being high on one’s priority list.
What one gets out of this book will likely depend on one’s motivation. While I could see some people learning something from this book, for most readers this book (and others like it) are mainly more about two things. For one, the application of the principles of this book (and most of the author’s body of work) is generally the more difficult part than knowing leadership principles or motivation principles. To know is easy, but to do is hard. Likewise, reading a book like this could easily be taken by a reader as being proof positive to oneself or others that one is taking priorities and motivation seriously and doing what one can to live the best life possible. Whether or not that is true is another story, but even to have confidence in oneself that one is taking life seriously is often desired by those who read such books. After all, it is not for the book’s wisdom, which is scarcely different than one might fond from a book like Proverbs, that this book and others like it are being sought. There is not much new to be found here, as most of the quotes are familiar and some of them quite old. What this book seeks to provide to most of its readers is merely a gentle reminder and a nudge to go out and do what one already knows one should do.