Help is Not a Four-Letter Word

The subtitle of this book by Peggy Collins says "Why doing it all is doing you in". The premise here is that a certain class of person - and the book is aimed primarily at women - tends to take on much more than they should in life. They try to care for their kids, for their parents, for their partner in life. They try to work, to take care of the home, and to volunteer too. At some point their body just can't keep up. The stress causes them to become ill, to become unable to sleep well, and even unable to mentally perform at their top level.

Peggy isn't saying to stop all your various tasks. She is saying to be aware of what you choose to do with your time, and to always keep in mind the trade-off you are making. If you take on yet more volunteer tasks, and therefore aren't getting ample sleep, it will affect every thing you attempt to do. You can't just pile on more work and expect your body to keep up. We all know your body will fail if you get no sleep for several days sleep. It fails in more subtle ways if you pile on stress every day without giving yourself time to be stress-free.

I realize that books want to try to reach "every single person" in order to have the largest audience possible - but it was a little extreme for Peggy to say that this issue is serious for anybody who has ever not asked for help or refused it when offered. I think there are a lot of people who have done that once in their entire life but who are quite well balanced. To me it slights the value of a book if they try to say everyone in the world has the book's chosen "disorder".

I also tend to dislike it when a book invents a series of titles for people, labelling them based on a given trait. While this is cute, it's not really helpful in the real world. If someone is an "islander" - it probably doesn't mean they are 100% this trait. They have some elements of this, some elements of other things and some elements of issues not even mentioned. To have someone say "Oh I am a X and therefore if I just do Y things will be perfect" is setting people up for trouble. It's much better to list issues you might face and then solutions - without having to say "You as a person ARE an xxxx".

Still, the book has some great examples in it, and great descriptions of issues. You can really relate to the various situations mentioned, and it gives you real life suggestions on how to get yourself out of similar situations. Much of the advice given is advice many of us need to hear. Peggy points out that if you're stressed out by the volume of work you have, it might be likely that you *asked* for that work, wanting to prove yourself or to volunteer for tasks. It is your responsibility to manage your time, to only take on tasks that you know you have the time to do very well, and to ask for help when you go past that limit.

There are a few instances where I feel the offered advice is less than superb, though. For example, Peggy says that someone who loves to talk has an ego problem. Actually, I know several women who enjoy talking, and they're simply friendly. They like to share their knowledge with others and are happy to do so. Peggy says that those who are always late are seeking attention. Heck, *I* am always late, and I am always very embarassed and NOT wanting attention if I'm not able to race to make up the time! It's that I'm very bad with time management and lose track of time, and only look at the clock when it's already past time to go. I need to get several alarm clocks :)

In general, I found the writing style to be a little uneven, but much of the information was quite helpful, so it began not to matter much. Many of the issues were relatively minor ones - ones that a good editor would have caught in a few read-throughs. This book is certainly a very helpful one, and if they come out with a second edition, I think some minor polishing could turn this into a book that every woman should have on her shelf.

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