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The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life Hardcover – March 19, 2019
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"A valuable volume about finding and embracing passion, avoiding burnout, and carefully navigating an unbalanced life." —Publisher's Weekly
"Passion. The topic is sparking conversations at work, at school, and at home. Should we throw everything to the winds and follow our passion? Or should we strive for balance and let our passions cool? In THE PASSION PARADOX, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness offer the surprising, nuanced, and research-backed answer. This super-smart, must-read book will teach you how to find and fuel your passion without burning up or burning out." —Daniel H. Pink, New York Times bestselling author of When and Drive
“Passion is a roller coaster ride that can send us on a sudden, precipitating plunge from the heights of happiness to the depths of despair. This thoughtful, immediately readable book shows how to manage passion so it brings out the best in us rather than the worst in us.“ —Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
“I feel like this book was written for me. I had to resist underlining every sentence in the book.” —Shalane Flanagan, New York City Marathon Champion, Four-Time Olympian, and New York Times bestselling author
"The Passion Paradox brings together multiple angles to peer over the edge at something difficult to grasp but incredibly important to people." —David Epstein. New York Times bestselling author of The Sports Gene and Range
About the Author
STEVE MAGNESS is a coach to some of the top distance runners in the world, having coached numerous athletes to Olympic trials, world championship teams, and the Olympics. Known widely for his integration of science and practice, Steve has been on the forefront of innovation in sport. He has been a featured expert in Runner's World, the New York Times, the New Yorker, BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and ESPN The Magazine. His first book, The Science of Running, was published in 2014. He lives in Houston, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @SteveMagness.
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But in the end, the research isn't great and doesn't strongly support the theory. There are no proposed solutions either, it's along the lines of "don't let your passions control you".
I found many useful tools in here I plant to implement and the chapter on transition was particularly helpful since I retired last year and am transitioning from active work to active participation in some things I couldn’t do while working.
Good for athletes and anybody interested in learning to harness that inner drive.
First, on the book/content side of things. I thought this book was very thorough and covered the full aspects of handling your passion. From finding it, working with it, letting it go and the pluses and minuses of embracing those passions might be.
I did feel the first few chapters were a bit slow as I thought they spent too much time explaining what passion is, the full history of the word and its meaning and a zillion examples of people who let their passions take them down the wrong path. By the end of chapter Two I was not sure if the book would be worth continuing to read. But I am glad I did, because the rest of the book was very thought provoking and useful.
One observation I had about the book was that I thought this book was more of a "lifetime" book than a one time use. What I mean by that is it is probably not likely that a single person would be simultaneously: seeking, working with, trying to get under control and letting go of an old passion. If I had to guess I would say its a lucky minority of people that ever really find a passion and run with it. I would guess most people are too afraid to really embrace a passion and go down a path of mediocrity, or a safe path, rather than truly pursuing a passion. So, I think this book will help someone think about how to focus on finding a passion of theirs, and then once they do this book would help a person manage that passion to be constructive in their life and not destructive. And eventually when it is time, to let go of that passion in a way they can feel good about, and perhaps pursue a new passion. Overall I felt this was a good read worth my time.
I would give the book content 4.9 stars, with the detraction being perhaps spend a little less time in the beginning hammering home the history of passion.
Now, about the CD version, which is what I bought.
First, I really do not recommend buying the CD - at least, not without some caveats.
I bought it so I could listen to the CD on my commute to work. Mistake. This is the type of book I really wanted to highlight and underline certain messages. There were a lot of key points provided that if I could have highlighted and underlined, I would have come back to later to reinforce the messages. Also, throughout each chapter they have multiple "passion practices" notes - little summaries of what we have learned. It would be great to revisit these more easily. Naturally, with a mp3 file, this is not possible. For this alone I am sad I did not buy the physical book.
Beyond the above, the CD is messed up physically. The tracks are mislabeled where the Intro is labeled track 1, chapter 1 is labeled track 2, chapter 2 is labeled track 3, etc. This makes it visually odd on the screen of your device to be told you're listening to chapter X, but the screen says chapter X + 1. To make matters worse - every track is simple labeled by the book title - not the actual chapter name.
So, chapter 3 looks like this on your device: "04_Passion_Paradox" When it would be MUCH more helpful if it was this: 03_Find And Grow Your Passion. For me, I took all the tracks off the CD and put them on my phone, and then went through the hassle of fixing all the track names - setting the introduction as chapter 00 and chapter 1 as chapter 1, etc.
I would give the physical CD 2 stars. Its still good and helpful to listen to in the car. But this is really the type of book they probably should not have done a CD on to prevent the customer from getting frustrated. Plus, the track names are all messed up.
So - in summary - the book is really good and I very much recommend buying it and reading it, but I highly recommend the physical book for the reasons above. You'll want to be able to easily come back to certain parts of the book and the CD is messed up.
Top international reviews
This is a friendly and readable introduction to why we get passionate about things (wanting to be a writer or an ultramarathoner), why this passion can go awry, and how to strike a balance to stop this from happening. The book uses personal anecdote and also research findings to buttress its arguments and is very easy to follow.
About a year ago I decided to change how I worked and follow my passion. It took me ages to work up the courage and I spent ages thinking about whether I was making the right decision and what metrics I was basing my decision making on. I wish this book had been around then as the authors cover this rather well...or in other words they talk about how you can tell whether your passion is simmering away nicely enough to cook something with, or whether you need to let it heat for a while longer, or whether things could be about to boil over already. Yes, Kipling got part of the answer correct. It does lie in treating those two imposters, success and failure, just the same, but there’s more to it than that, and if you want to know more about this topic, have a passion you want to keep alive, or found books like ‘Grit’ or ‘Rest’ interesting, then I commend this to you.
Another fine book by the authors. I look forward to the next one.