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Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself

Reviewed by Rick O’Shay

This is the third and final book in a series of self-help tomes written by the Father of Artificial Intelligence, Larry Womack.  The other books are The Grass is Always Browner and Never Take Advice Lying Down.

This book, Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself, is the basis of a new three-day seminar conducted by Womack in appropriate settings throughout the nation.  Look for one near you.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book, Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself.

Chapter One:  Success May be Closer Than It Appears in the Mirror

Womack says, “Learn why what you’re doing right now may be all the success you ever have.  Consider when people say you are stupid that they may be right.  Sometimes learning to live in mediocrity is a good thing.”  He suggests that if you feel you need a motivational speaker to get you going, it might be wiser just to find something not as taxing to do.  “Your glass may always be half-empty, “ says Womack.  “But on the bright side, many people don’t even have a glass.”

The information in this chapter will put you well on your way to accepting your own inadequacies and developing a plan to maximize them.

Chapter Two:  Learn from Your Ignorance

Womack demonstrates how you can save time and energy by relying on your own ignorance and the ignorance of others to develop your opinions. He suggests using the Internet as a primary source of truth and opinion.  That way no one can challenge what you say because there is no evidence whether the information is true or not.  Believe only what you want to and only seek knowledge from unusual sources. It is a lot easier to rely on the ignorance of others than it is to go to all that trouble on your own. Womack says, “Only read books that support your narrow position on an issue and you won’t ever become confused. And, remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.”

This chapter is replete with shortcuts to knowing-it-all without a great deal of effort.

Chapter Three:  The Vegetable Test

Womack’s engaging “Which Vegetable Are You Test?” will help you become the type of vegetable you’ve always wanted to be.  “Some people want to be a cucumber.  Others would prefer to be a potato.  No one ever picks a turnip or a rutabaga. Radishes and scallions are low on the list.  Tomatoes (technically a fruit) and yams rank high,” says Womack.  “Everybody wants to be a vegetable but just which one is hard to decide.”

This test gets the job done, in record time. You start by defining which vegetable best represents who you are today and then go through the exhaustive list of vegetables Womack has supplied and then pick the top five vegetables you think you’d want to be most like.  Narrow it to three and then from the three pick the one that you’d most like to become; then develop a plan of action.”

This maybe the most useful and insightful chapter in the book.

Chapter Four:  None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us

This chapter demonstrates the strengths and weakness of teamwork.  Womack opines that when individuals form teams almost anything is possible.  He concludes that most meetings are based on the concept of “pooled ignorance.”  Leaders often assume that the more minds that are at the table equates to higher intellectual acuity and better decisions.  That’s why leaders often bring in people from across the organization and from outside to participate in their planning and strategy sessions.  “You never know where a better idea might come from.” Womack suggests.  “It is important to note that using a team approach also spreads the responsibility for whatever failures that might come from the groupthink; thus absolving leadership from any personal accountability.

Chapter Five:  Finding Someone to Blame

This chapter exposits the concept of finding others to blame for bad ideas and the poor execution of them.  “It’s not always your fault no matter how guilty you might feel.  There’s always someone else you can blame for failures, if you just look hard enough and in the right places,” says Womack. He suggests that even those who attempt to hold you accountable may be at fault themselves.  Maybe their expectations were too high; they overestimated your ability, or underestimated the difficulty of the task.  Or maybe they just don’t understand.

Sometimes, he says. The universe is a convenient scapegoat.  Say, it was God’s will or everything happens for a reason, it was just not meant to be, or it could have been worse and almost no one will blame you.

This chapter was the genesis for the title, Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself. “That,” says Womack, “can be a difficult and daunting task.”

Chapter Six:  Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself

The final chapter explains that everyone cannot become whomever they want to be because someone else is probably already that person.  Turning around and taking a look at one’s self, no matter how difficult that may be, is the only answer.

A highlight of the chapter is the Entrepreneurial Test. Womack recommends getting a blank sheet of paper and a pen.  If you can’t think of anything to write down, forget becoming an entrepreneur and get a job.

The chapter is all about taking stock.  In another exercise, Womack recommends folding a piece of paper down the middle and listing on one side of the sheet all your attributes, talents, and expertise.  After completing that side, turn the paper over and list all your weaknesses, obsessions, failures, bad attitudes, neuroses, and the mistakes you’ve made over the years; using the backside of the paper, if necessary.

He believes this exercise gives one the true picture of his or her potential and can serve as a wake up call for lowering one’s expectations of success.

Womack reminds us that when you feel that you have reached the bottom, it’s important to look down.  You may not be there yet.

The book ends on the uplifting note that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Womack does, however, point out that light may be an oncoming train.

Turn Around and Take a Look at Yourself is soul food for thought.

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