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Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters Hardcover – January 7, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (January 7, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786865482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786865482
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (333 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Some people spend their lives reacting to what life hands them, while others craft life to fit their goals. Author Phillip C. McGraw, who is a psychologist but describes himself as a strategist, is determined to make sure that his readers are the creators of their lives, not created by their lives. By accepting that you are personally accountable for every element of your life, McGraw says, you can erase the negative "epidemic behaviors" (found in all of American society: denial, false assumptions, inertia, deceptive masking) in your life and reach your goals.

Written in a tough-love, sometimes cantankerous tone, this self-help book is not for those looking to explore their inner child or visualize away negative energy. No, this is pull-yourself-up-by-the- bootstraps advice from someone who's done just that. McGraw opens with a scene describing how he helped Oprah Winfrey survive--and win--the 1998 "Mad Cow" lawsuit in Texas, when she was having difficulty coping with the reality of what was happening to her. He helped her face the facts about the lawsuit, after which she was better able to participate in crafting a strategy to win it.

McGraw first forces you to take a good hard look at who you are by dissecting your personality. It may be painful to realize that you fall into the "Porcupine" or "Perfecto" or any of the other personality types McGraw delineates, but here it's true that there's no gain without pain, because (Life Law No. 4) "You Can't Change What You Don't Acknowledge." He then describes in depth all 10 "Life Laws"--the rules by which the world plays--that he learned the hard way. Laws such as "You Either Get It, or You Don't," "Life Is Managed; It Is Not Cured," and "You Have to Name It to Claim It" make up the bulk of the book and McGraw's realist philosophy.

If you learn and abide by the Life Laws and go on to create a Life Strategy, McGraw claims you will not only know yourself better and eliminate negative behaviors, you will also know how to reach any goal you set for yourself. --Stefanie Durbin

From Publishers Weekly

After advising Oprah Winfrey in her successful defense against accusations of slander by the beef industry, McGraw, a behavior specialist and trial expert, now makes appearances on Oprah's program as a member of her "Change Your Life TV Team," joining such other luminaries of self-help as Suze Orman, John Gray and Iyanla Vanzant. While McGraw's presentation may play well on the small screen, it suffers on the page from lack of focus, awkward writing and a relentlessly hectoring tone. At the outset, McGraw browbeats his readers: "You are either winning or losing in your life, plain and simple. You live in a competitive world." His strategy for winning is built around 10 "Life Laws," which include the following: "You Either Get It or You Don't"; "You Can't Change What You Don't Acknowledge"; and "There Is No Reality; Only Perception." He also gives 16 homework assignments: the first, to list the five things in your life you have failed to acknowledge to yourself; the second, to write "The Story I'll Tell Myself If I Don't Create Meaningful and Lasting Change After Reading and Studying This Book." McGraw does a good job of identifying many self-defeating behaviors, but it will be up to readers to determine for themselves the efficacy of his methods of changing them. 500,000 first printing; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., has worked in the field of human functioning and strategic life planning for over twenty years. Dr. McGraw is co-founder and president of Courtroom Sciences, Inc., America's leading litigation consulting firm, and has been associated with some of the highest-profile cases in the country, including Oprah's highly publicized "Mad Cow" case. A professional psychologist, he appears regularly on Oprah as her resident expert on human functioning. He lives in Dallas.

Customer Reviews

Very good and practical book.
M. Jolyne
Dr. Phil McGraw is an expert in his field touching the lives of all in his path in a positive manner.
Judie Sinclair
This book can change your life if you are willing to accept responsibility for your decisions.
Jeff Gerent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Steven K. Szmutko VINE VOICE on June 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Each of us has the power to make those decisions which ultimately determine the course of our precious lives.
"Life Strategies" is one of those rare finds, a self-help book that does not wallow in big words or esoteric concepts. Mr. McGraw outlines his steps for success in life in simple, direct, yet engagingly written chapters. The organization of the book is excellent throughout and reflects an author who has had extensive experience in dealing with people from all walks of life. He deals with concepts such as self-reliance, individual responsibility and similar notions often downplayed (or ignored outright) by other authors seeking to play into the culture of victimization. You will find none of that in Mr. McGraw's book; his main theme is that we are responsible for our own lives and we do not have to allow ourselves to be knocked about like a punching bag on a windy day.
Once you pick up the book, it is difficult to put down; you will find yourself nodding your head at what you have always known in your heart, but do not always acknowledge in your daily life. This book is well worth the time.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Carol Alaniz on October 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Don't get this book!! Having said that, this book has helped me to understand more things about myself than any other book I've bought. Nothing like the mamby-pamby books that tell you to get in touch with your *inner child*, Dr. Phil comes straight out and tells you if you don't like your life CHANGE IT. He gives you the tools to look at yourself, and if you really DO look at yourself, and are HONEST with yourself, you can work on the parts of you and your life that bug you.
As to the reviewer who commented that Dr. Phil says 'everyone is accountable' and what about rape victims, etc., are you going to tell them they are at fault....NO! You missed the point! On page 65-66, Dr. Phil wrote: (about child victims) "What about things that happened to me as a child? ~~ I realize that certain realities, some of them horribly sick realities, are visited upon us when we are children. I am not suggesting that, as children, we choose all of the events and circumstances in our lives...we are neither RESPONSIBLE (capitals are not Dr. Phils, but mine) or ACCOUNTABLE for being raped, abused, or molested. This is not what I'm saying. What I AM saying to you is that while you may not have had the knowledge or power, as a child, to make certain choices and are therefore not accountable for those events, as an ADULT you DO have the ability to choose your reaction to those childhood events and circumstances...the past is over and the future hasn't happened yet."
Dr. Phil continues: "Is it fair that it happened to you? No. Is it fair that you have to deal with that? No. It is fair that you have to live with it and manage it for the rest of your life? No. Are you nevertheless accountable for how you live with it and manage it? ABSOLUTELY.
Read more ›
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78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Steven Charnick on January 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
In my review of Cheryl Richardson's 'Life Makeovers' I pointed out that an author's approach and style are what distinguish his or her work from the amazing number of self-help books available.

I would call this book 'a blunter 'Life Makeovers''.

For those who are unfamiliar with Dr. Phil's approach (he has appeared on talk shows, especially 'Oprah!') you will at first probably be turned off as I was. A 'client' will go on stage with him and start explaining the problem he or she has. He frequently interrupts and bluntly gets right to the most important underlying question.

The interesting thing is that this is the approach used by the best psychologists/psychiatrists. When you distill the problems you have down to the basic issue it becomes much easier to face and solve.

This book, by putting you in Dr. Phil's 'office', exposes you to this type of 'therapy'.

Is it a substitute for professional help if needed? No.

Is it an excellent way of trying to control your own destiny and see if you can solve your problems yourself? YES.

You might not be able to solve them - but this book will be your best chance to discover if you can.

I give this book a recommendation without reservation.

At least give it a try - it may change your outlook - it may change your life.
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70 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Joan Mazza on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A review from the author of DREAMING YOUR REAL SELF: A PERSONAL APPROACH TO DREAM INTERPRETATION; and DREAM BACK YOUR LIFE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO DREAMS, DAYDREAMS, AND FANTASIES.
Phil McGraw's LIFE STRATEGIES presents a no-nonsense approach to getting your life together and feeling good about yourself. But this is no easy "feel good" book with affirmations empty of action. His 10 Laws of Life remind us that having a good life (and a happy one) means taking responsibility for every aspect of it-including our attitude about our experiences and the wrongs done to us by others. Until we take control of our lives instead of talking about "someday," we stay stuck in our problems. I did not take issue with any of Dr. McGraw's "laws," nor with any of his examples. Well done. I'd like to see this book assigned in schools to fifteen-year-olds. His chapter, "A guided tour of your life," really gets down to the specifics people can use to get their lives on track.
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