In Awe – Business Book Review

I had a lot of high hopes for In Awe by John O’Leary but in the end it did let down a bit. It’s not because it wasn’t a good book or that it wasn’t interesting to read, it was. The reason is that what I had hoped to get out of it and what it would help with is actually achieving something.

It turns out it’s another motivational book that is little more than a Brian Griffin knock-off of Wish It, Want It, Do It. I didn’t think that book actually had something out there but it does. It’s a Family Guy reference in case you’re wondering.

In Awe by John O'Leary book cover

I’m not sure where the book went off the rails but I suspect it was somewhere around where the second chapter with this quote:

Before entering kindergarten, before “learning” anything, we are creative geniuses. And then, over time, we lose our creativity, our ability to think differently, and our innovative, playful, and pioneering spirit.

Excerpt from In Awe by John O’Leary

Unfortunately school is the thing that everyone loves to hate and catches the blame for all the haters out there. If only life was that simple. A lot more happens in life than going to school and I’m pretty sure the kids of other centuries weren’t so much better off because they got to go to the sweatshop instead of school.

It’s not school that kills that spirit of childlike wonder, it’s just life in general and perhaps part of that is reading things where people simplify life too much and put the blame on the wrong thing. So many things go wrong in chapter 2 of the book with the school blame thing it’s just a little annoying.

Take this quote for instance

kids progress through school, they realize that asking questions doesn’t get them gold stars. In fact, questions get them in trouble

Excerpt from In Awe by John O’Leary

None of that’s true. I’ve never heard of a school where students get in trouble for asking questions. In fact, it’s always been encouraged and teachers are more than willing to take as many questions as students can ask. My daughter never stops asking questions in school and nobody has asked her not to. She’s a question machine and will never stop.

School is all about asking questions, it doesn’t get you in trouble, and it’s also not the reason people lose their awe in life. I wish it was that simple.

I started off with some bad things to say about the book. Yes, there’s a fair share of things that makes it not the best book ever but there are also some good parts that I think are right on. I’m not just saying that because I agree either.

One quote in the book that I did like is because it’s something that I’ve made a point to work on in my own life. We get to choose our own perception of the world. If we get butthurt about something then it’s our own fault. The thing with that, though, is that we have to be careful.

There are lines were someone really is crossing the line and it’s not just the other person’s perception. We can’t constantly dismiss political correctness as other people’s problems or else you cross into territory where derogatory terms and racism and such become other people’s problems and not a societal problem. Ouch.

If you put all that aside, though, and try to simplify the world beyond what it should probably be simplified to you get a decent quote like this one.

We choose how we will perceive the realities that surround us.

Excerpt from In Awe by John O’Leary

There are also many other parts about the book that are excellent also. One such part is about how we lose some of our awe in life because our brains become too efficient. We have too much baggage I guess, so we look past a lot of things that a kid might notice or think of. That’s because our brain has so many built in shortcuts that we can’t get past them.

Where does that leave us?

Age. It happens with age no matter if you go to school or not. As we experience the world our brains are constantly trying to become more efficient. This also means we miss out on a lot more than we would have as a kid. We also don’t see things the same way as we did as a kid.

The problem is that In Awe doesn’t really cover how to get around this. I’m still not sure how to gain that sense of awe and seemingly endless creativity that I had when I was a kid.

I don’t have that answer and neither does this book.

What this book does answer is something that I’ve already figured out, though. It does help you appreciate life and just enjoy it a bit more. Accept what is and appreciate what you do have no matter how much or how little it is. No, I won’t ever be a millionaire but that’s okay. I have a pretty damn good life and get to choose to find those parts of it that I appreciate and make me happy.

It can be something as simple as the chai tea I had this morning or the air just after the sun sets on a warm summer night. We get to choose if we live life happy and enjoy things if we just look for it.

That’s what this book will help you achieve if you look at it right.

One last thing about the book that I think is very thought-provoking.

everything that is possible today was once considered impossible.

Excerpt from In Awe by John O’Leary

You don’t really think about this but it’s true. Absolutely everything that’s possible today was at one time impossible. That even goes for walking! How cool is that?

Oh, and also the lotto isn’t completely hopeless. After all, John figured out the probability of you being born which is 400 trillion to one. The odds of winning the lottery don’t sound too far fetched now, do they?

I still won’t play much if ever but that okay, I don’t need to be a millionaire to be happy. Neither do you.

There’s even a bit about learned helplessness which is pretty cool. I wrote about that many years ago and yes, it’s a huge problem for those who are sad. It’s learned helplessness at its worst. Unfortunately it’s not that simple to dig your way out of learned helplessness.

I wasn’t anticipating writing this much about In Awe by John O’Leary which I guess means it was a pretty decent book. It didn’t achieve the goal I was hoping it would help me with but it was still a good read.

I would definitely pick it up and read it. Even if it doesn’t help you get that awe back, it’ll help you with something.

Next Book

I’m one day into my next book which is the fun book Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown. So far I’m liking this book even though I don’t particularly love books about America. It’s just too new for me, there’s no real history here. Or at least there’s no real history that’s very prominent, it kind of got steamrolled by US history.

I think what I like about this book is the fact that it happened before the US was even a country. Reading about characters who are part of the “new world” is sort of like a history lesson almost as good as the one I read about Napoleon who actually came well after this book.

It’s about Mary who is a settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1676. I haven’t got much further than the book laying out her family life and how she doesn’t really connect with the way her people do things. I do have to agree with Mary, though, people were pretty disgusting back then and all in the name of god. The evil people do in the name of god hasn’t changed much, though.

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