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"What's it going to be?"
on May 1, 2007
As I began to read this book, I recalled Voltaire's suggestion that we cherish those who seek the truth...but beware of those who find it. Few will quarrel with Randy Gage's faith in becoming - and then remaining -- "smart, healthy & rich" but many will disagree with his opinions which he presents as facts (e.g. the late Pope "leaves behind a legacy of poverty, ignorance, and despair" and with his suggestions which come across as fiats (e.g. those whose purpose is to "serve God" ought to be in a straightjacket"). Somewhere well-buried within this book is a very important insight which complements Voltaire's: Too often, too many of us are unwilling and/or unable to think independently (e.g. to challenge the assumptions and premises of so-called "conventional wisdom"), and then, to take principled and effective action, guided and informed by what our independent thinking reveals.
All of us make bad decisions at one time or another. Obviously, Gage asserts, it is "dumb" to repeat them. For example, to become addicted to health-threatening behavior as well as to spend far in excess of income while maxing out credit cards. Various bad decisions can significantly reduce one's quality of life, standard of living, and career. How easy it is to be controlled by what James O'Toole has aptly characterized as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Presumably helping people to avoid or escape from such control is one of the reasons why he wrote this book. It is a worthy objective.
Frankly, I would have added another star to the rating were it not for Gage's frequent use of confrontational ("shock") rhetoric which, in my opinion, creates distractions throughout the flow of his narrative. Of course, making the right decisions cannot guarantee that one will become "smart, healthy & rich!" but that will certainly improve the odds. According to Gage, the fundamental challenge is to replace a "fear of success" mindset with a faith in what can be accomplished, and then make whatever changes may be necessary in one's values, attitudes, and behavior to achieve the desired objectives. It is that easy...and, yes, that difficult...but possible.