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Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement Hardcover – October 8, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Underachiever, and proud of it," read millions of Bart Simpson T-shirts in the early 1990s. But lots of adults aren't proud of their underachiever status, and Kenneth W. Christian has written Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement to help them overcome this habit. People who have a fear of failure and commitment, organizational difficulties or a tendency to misjudge success's demands will benefit from Christian's 15-step program, which focuses on visualizing and achieving goals. Christian is the founder of the Maximum Potential Project, an organization designed to help underachievers, and his book offers case studies and tried-and-true advice.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Christian does a good job describing self-defeating behaviors and pep-talking readers through groundwork for defeating them..." -- Mike Maza, Dallas Morning News, November 17, 2002

"People who have a fear of failure and commitment, organizational difficulties or a tendency to misjudge...demands will benefit..." -- Publisher's Weekly, September, 2002

"This is a life-changing, life-saving book. [It] is the best self-help book I have seen in...20 years..." -- John Porter, Gallery, Virginia National Public Radio

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060393920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060393922
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kenneth W. Christian, Ph. D., is a licensed psychologist whose focus is on helping people and orgnanizations express their true potential.

In 2002 published Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement, ReganBooks, HarperCollins, 2002, (paperback 2004). He also authored, with Dianne Hales, An Invitation to Personal Change, Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. He has been cited in Psychology Today, the Financial Times, Selling Power, and Investors Business Daily and others.

Ken has been a professor, clinician, speaker, and organizational consultant. His team-building experience began as leader of a multi-racial, group of community paraprofessionals that became the highest-rated in the nation; it included being coach of his then ten-year-old daughter's softball team all the way to the league championship game, though lost due to tragically impaired umpiring!

Ken lived in Paris from 1999-2002, speaks French, and, with robust accompanying hand gestures, can find a good restaurant in Spanish.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book from Amazon.com at the recommendation of a lifelong friend who has done her best over the years to shake me out of my comfortable lethargy of just "getting by". While I have never doubted the sincerity of her support or her good will, I always harbored the secret pride/shame that my failure to grab life and make the most of it was unique to me -- special, since no one else was really in my situation.
Dr. Christian has ripped the lid off my complacent excuses in his compassionate and wonderfully compelling book. While I have always found a kind of perverse satisfaction in excusing my unwillingness to truly engage in my own life, at the same time I have always felt a pervasive disappointment in my failure to do so.
For the first time since I was young, I have the feeling that it may not be too late for me to accomplish some of the things that I at first "put off" and then did my best to convince myself (and those around me -- except for my friend) were beyond my reach.
What I liked most in reading Dr. Christian's book was his down to earth humility in relating recent incidents from his own life to the principles he espouses.
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Format: Hardcover
And when I finally did, I have to say I learned a lot. The part that frightened me was his descriptions of different types of procrastinators. I saw myself using a variety of delay tactics. I had to put down the book and compose myself.
Chapter 4 was probably the most difficult to get through. It was a little too "text bookish" for me and didn't make all that much sense. As a recovering procrastinator, I almost used this chapter as my reason to justify quitting. I've completed most of the activities and found areas that I needed to drastically change or explore further. It has been a very good experience.
There were a few negatives about the book. This includes Chapter 4 and the many errors in writing. Some editor should be put on probation. One of the examples referred to someone named Litton and in the very next paragraph and a few pages later he was named Lifton. And why people write 280 page books on how to stop procrastinating is beyond me... A good summary at the end of each chapter with the main points would have been helpful for going back to review. The 15 Tasks were helpful, but close to the end of the book he summarizes 10 of them. What happened to the other 5? Are they not that important? Plus, at the end of the book he talks of meditation and few other things... He hadn't mentioned these throughout the book! The book appeared to be pieced together rather than one cohesive piece of work.
Again, the information was very helpful, but someone please have a talk with the editor.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book and have found it of great value. Until I read "Your Own Worst Enemy" I'd never seen the phenomenon of underachievement so clearly identified and explained. So often creative people fail to corral their gifts and use them in a productive way. I've encountered talented people who begin to make a film, but when they run into a few obstacles or get scared, they give up, and inevitably become bitter.
Dr. Christian's analysis of the reasons why people don't fulfil their potential and his practical suggestions for
re-orientation are excellent. He's absolutely right when he speaks of the pitfalls that can still occur even after you meet with success. He tells Stacy's story: how she would always derail herself. But then she applied his exercises and got herself on track, cultivating her deepest interests. This led to her making a documentary film. Along the way, she was filled with exhilaration but also with fear. What if she failed? But she didn't bail out; she kept working hard and along the way got offers of help. For the first time in her life, she was taken seriously as an artist.
This book shows that change is truly possible and tells you how you can bring it about if you follow the specifics. It's inspiring: you learn that it's never too late to break old, negative habits and consciously form fresh, productive ones. He offers a concrete guide that anyone can apply: sensible, unique, in-depth exercises for jump-starting your career.
I think this book is useful for everyone. Whether you're just starting out or have hit a roadblock, this book makes you ponder your unique answers to essential questions: "What do I really respond to? What gives me joy and passion?" I recommend this book to anyone who has a dream but whose self-defeating habits have interfered with making it come true.
Susan Froemke
Chief Administrator and Principal Filmmaker
Maysles Film Inc.
Comment 45 of 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on January 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Can a book change your life in a lasting and meaningful way? Maybe. I suppose it depends on the book. Even some of the most well-intentioned books leave no footprints in the sands of my memory. Some purport to help you change, but it's nothing lasting - it's like the five or ten pounds that you lose over and over - but never for good. Well, as contrite as it may sound: a book changed my life.
Crazy thing is I never really knew I needed it. I certainly never looked for it. Unlike those ever-anticipating overachievers who, once they identify the possibility...or inkling, of a need for information on this or that, proceed to call the ten closest bookstores to try to attach a name and author to some ambiguous dilemma, I, on the other hand, opened the book because I was intrigued by the cover.
One quiet Friday night as I sat in a way-too-comfortable chair at Barnes and Noble (yes, that's where I was), having myself a pity party over some domestic drama, I stumbled upon the book that changed my life. I twisted over the side of my chair to the nearest bookshelf and pulled the interesting-looking book from amid its fellow shiny-covered books. The cover was made to resemble a ransom note. You know the kind: letters cut or torn from various newspapers and magazines and glued to a white sheet of paper in order to mask the identity of the sender. It intrigued me and I began to read it. Three hours later, when the announcement came over the intercom that the store would be closing in 15 minutes, I looked up from the book. I had become so engrossed in the book as to have completely forgotten where I was. My first realization was that I was sitting rather indelicately with one leg flopped over the arm of the chair.
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