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Book review: How to succeed by really, really trying

How to Succeed in Anything by Really Trying

By Lyman MacInnis

Random House of Canada: $25

Time magazine just published its annual roundup of 10 ideas that are changing our world right now.

So what's the big idea holding down top spot on Time's list? Jobs are the new assets.

Not so long ago, we didn't think of our jobs as assets. If anything, we took our jobs for granted. We didn't lay awake at night wondering and worrying if we'd get laid off or let go in the morning. We didn't call friends to ask if they'd survived the latest round of cutbacks. We only threw farewell parties for coworkers who'd retired or jumped ship for greener pastures. And our community wasn't coming together to find ways of saving jobs and creating new jobs to replace the ones we'd already lost.

We believed our most valuable assets were our investments on Bay Street, Wall Street and on the street where we lived. We spent more than we earned because we turned our overvalued houses into ATM machines and ran up the tab on our lines of credit. But then the recession did a number on those assets, blowing out our portfolios and hammering the value of our homes. So now, our most valuable asset is our jobs. For many of us, it's our last asset standing and sole financial lifeline.

According to the folks at Time, we'll start looking at our jobs in a whole new light as a result. We'll be far more cautious and we'll avoid career-limiting moves at all costs. We'll opt for the predictable paycheque over the promise of performance bonuses, stock options and high-risk and high-reward job opportunities. We'll look at the public sector as the land of milk and honey. And instead of spending big bucks to build a new deck or buy a supersized flat-screen TV for our remodelled rec rooms, we'll be investing in ourselves. We'll be enrolling in night-school classes, weekend courses and on-the-job training to up the return on our human capital.

And we'll start paying closer attention to people like author Lyman MacInnis. Drawing on more than three decades as a senior partner with international accounting firms and as an executive coach, MacInnis has come up with a proven game plan for achieving success in our professional and personal lives.

It's a back to basics, common sense approach, with a heavy emphasis on working hard to gain knowledge and acquire the skills to put what we learn into practice. And attitude is everything, according to MacInnis. "We aren't born with our attitudes; we develop them. If you don't believe that being curious, positive and happy about things is our natural state, take some time to closely observe children at play."

If you're not happy in your job, you have three choices. Stay miserable. Change jobs. Or change your attitude. Life's too short to be miserable and inflicting misery on others is a quick and sure way to derail your career. Even if there were jobs to move to, odds are you'll simply continue being miserable somewhere new.

You can improve your attitude if you're willing to learn something from everything that happens around you and from everyone you meet, says MacInnis. "Become sincerely interested in other people and genuinely curious about events, and your mind will become too positively preoccupied to allow bad attitudes to develop or frustrations to creep in. When you're grateful for all that's good in your life, better things follow."

So if you're grateful to have a job and it's now your one and only asset, invest some time reading MacInnis's book. As he points out, "reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

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