BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Quite a good read ...

This is another "dollar store find" that falls into the "how did that get there?" category ... it's scarcely three years old, and is quite an engaging read, yet it's already "remaindered". My best guess is that Timothy Dobbins' Stepping Up: Make Decisions that Matter "fell between the cracks", category-wise, as it was published by the "business" side of Harper-Collins, but it reads much more like a "self-development" book. If this was being marketed to the "business management" sector, I can see why it might have failed to the extent that they'd drop it, which is unfortunate, as this is quite a perceptive and useful book ... too bad they didn't "change gears" and point it at the "newage" market!

The author is an interesting figure in that he started out as an Episcopalian priest (which he still is, on the side) who evolved into a business coach/consultant. These roots are notable throughout, as much of his approach has the "pastoral counseling" vibe, although generally dealing with business-centered situations. He begins the book with a look at how people search for meaning in the face of emptiness, which is a very worthwhile essay in its own right. I especially appreciated how he clarified the roles of spirituality and religion:
Spirituality is about the human spirit and soul; how each of us individually and collectively become conscious of ourselves and our unique roles in the universe. It's an expression of our values and beliefs. Religion, on the other hand, is a particular system of faith and belief with its own set of rules and practices.
... this in a discussion of how spirituality "belongs not only in places of worship, but in the workplace ... (being) central to our full humanity". This is a well focused point, and one that is egregiously lacking in our culture as a whole (although there are far too many people desiring to bring their religious biases into the workplace). His concept of "stepping up" is doing the "right thing" as far as our personal (spiritual) authenticity is concerned, and the book is an examination of why, most of the time, people opt for other strategies.

Dobbins defines these other strategies as: "Standing Still", "Stepping Aside", "Stepping Back", and "Stepping on Someone Else", each getting its own chapter filled with stories of people he's encountered and how they manifested these, contrasted with those who actually "stepped up". Here are the "thumbnail" definitions for these:
Standing Still: Standing still is the default option for almost all of us. To stand still is to let something happen without taking any action. Things might work out, or they might not, but in either case your action is inaction.

Stepping Aside: If standing still is ignoring your responsibility, stepping aside can be an abdication. It's taking yourself out of the game, giving up, waving a white flag, and telling someone else to take your place.

Stepping Back: We step back to block others from moving forward. Often workplace stepping back takes place in team or group projects. Consciously or unconsciously you block the team or group from moving in a direction that may not meet your own needs.

Stepping on Someone Else: Business is almost always portrayed as a zero-sum game ... (but) I don't believe it's true of most of the interactions between individuals ... just because your company's goal is to take market share away from your competitors, that doesn't mean your personal goal needs to be to take responsibilities and power away from your coworkers.

And, finally, Stepping Up: ... (W)e almost always know what the right thing to do is in any given situation ... the answer is almost always there, somewhere inside ... in most situations we have a general sense of what should be done, or what needs to be done ... if you give yourself a chance, you'll know what you need to do to step up.
The author takes on each of these, with examples both from his own immediate surroundings (and actions), and those more "generally" presented (although he does indicate that the stories all represent actual situations). While nothing here is particularly "earth shattering", it does give plenty of places to consider one's own behavior, and how to manage these various "strategies" when they are manifesting around one in the work environment (and, of course, elsewhere).

Again, I was happy to have encountered Stepping Up, and would recommend it to anybody. The tone, for me, was "just right" between not being "preachy" and not being "consultant-y", and the structure of the information made for very effective delivery. As noted, this seems to be only available in the "aftermarket", so if you can't find it at your local dollar store, you can snag copies from the Amazon new/used vendors of "like new" books for as little as 1¢ (plus, of course, the $3.99 shipping). It's a very useful little volume, and I do hope the author manages to find a new publisher for it, as it really doesn't deserve its present fate!

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Tags: book review
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