The Ultimate How To Book: Strategies for Personal Achievement

Lynda Holyoak (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Holyoak, L. (2000), "The Ultimate How To Book: Strategies for Personal Achievement", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 216-220.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Here is a book which claims to explain why all those other “how to” books (such as How To Make a Six Figure Income) often fail to achieve their goal and offers to help the reader develop the necessary skills to make use of the advice that these other books give. The publishers claim that it offers “nothing less than a technology of personal achievement”. With such a grand claim, one cannot help but read on.

Although the market is full of “how to” books and they are certainly popular, many are either not read fully, or if the reader does make it to the end, the principles are not put into practice. The author argues that we all need certain meta‐skills to enable us to maintain the motivation to finish the other books and to change our lives in the way their titles suggest. To do this we need primary and secondary “how to” skills. The majority of the book deals with the primary skills: how to formulate clear goals, how to create empowering self beliefs and how to achieve the right state of mind. Along the way we are reminded of secondary “how to” skills (e.g. how to remember) which build upon the primary ones and make our lifestyle changes more achievable; and the fact that all “how to’s” eventually break down into “sub‐how to’s” and thence into “to do” lists. The author finishes the book with two chapters on creativity and problem‐solving. Also included is a useful appendix on problem‐solving techniques, which would be helpful to many people, even those who are not intent on going on to change themselves in some way.

Much of the book is based on sound principles such as goal‐setting, which have been subject to rigorous research. Other parts seem to rely more on less well‐tested techniques, such as neuro‐linguistic programming (NLP). The parts based on the former were much more convincing than the latter. This opinion may be the result of not attempting the exercises based on this technique, such as installing an appropriate state of mind. Exercises like these were much more difficult to try as they required the reader to be in a deeply relaxed state which would seem to preclude reading the book at the same time. Anyone who was going to get the best out of this element of the book would need to find a way to get around this problem, such as getting someone else to give them instructions when they were in the appropriate mental state, or to make themselves so familiar with the techniques that they did not need to refer to the text. Although I did not try the exercises, some of the examples given about the vividness of imagined experiences were familiar enough to be convincing.

This very practical volume will be of use to anyone who wishes to take advantage of “how to” books or anyone who wants to produce more creative solutions to problems.

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