Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: Start Here

As a book review for Waterbrook/Multnomah, which provided me with a free book to review for this blog.  So, here's the book:


The cover picture is linked to a purchase-enabled website if you're interested.

This book is a follow-up to Alex and Brett Harris's first book Do Hard Things.  It's essentially an effort to answer some of the questions raised in their first book and to share some of what teenagers challenged by Do Hard Things.

The book is delivered in a question-and-answer format, and is a plain language explanation of what types of hard things teenagers have been tackling in the three years since Do Hard Things came out.

I am, personally, a little disappointed in some of the hard things listed and held up as an example.  Perhaps it's because, in the 15 years since I was in high school, the expectations of teenagers have eroded worse than they were then, but some of this stuff just doesn't sound that hard.  Some of it is.  There's an example of a young man who worked a personal effort into a national fundraiser for HIV/AIDS orphans in Africa.  He started at 9.  That was a hard thing.

In fact, it's a hard and worthy thing that shouldn't be equated with simply refusing to cheat or fake a school assignment, as several of the other hard thing examples are given to be.  Maybe I'm a tad cynical, but when we equate honesty as a 'hard thing' rather than raising it as the normal expectation, we're doing teenagers a disservice.

Which cuts against the stated intent of the Harris brothers.  They want to raise the bar, challenge young people not to be useless slackers.  They should be commended in this effort, but should also not use a low bar for the examples they cite.

However, that's my perspective now, looking back 15 years on high school, and remembering the things we took on that were considered challenging.  I'm also looking at my 8, 6, and 3 year-old children and wondering just how far our standards as a nation have slipped that raising them to be honest is raising them to take on hard things.

And as I recall some of the integrity issues I saw in my time learning management in a major company, I realize that is the world we now live in.  That too often it is portrayed in our culture that honesty is too hard or that integrity isn't worth it.

Given that Alex and Brett titled this book Start Here, not This is Enough, it's a good starting place.  Certainly worth putting in the hands of any teenager that is craving to be more than what the culture around them is selling.  It's also a useful idea base if you'd like to challenge a group of teens, whether church group or community group. 

Amazon, for example, sells this book for under $10, and it's certainly worth that price.  Buy a stack of them, challenge the teenagers in your life to read them between now and the summer and to use the inspiration to find a hard thing to tackle this summer.

What I'd like to see follow this would be an adult-level book, perhaps co-written with a few others, challenging adults and parents to both do hard things and to expect more out of the generations that follow.


Now, if you want to do a not hard thing: I've got a copy of this book to give away.  How, you may ask, can you get such a thing?  Simple: leave me a comment that you want it.  1 week from today, on March 24th, I'll randomly pick from all comments on both blogs and the Facebook notes and send you a copy of this book. 

If you want a bonus entry, answer this question: Was St. Patrick Irish?



If you need to read Disclosures! to see that I got this book free in exchange for the review, just click the word.  That's not a hard thing.

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