And how can one predict what other peoples reactions will be, anyway?
However, there are some problems with this book, notwithstanding. The first is the title: 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. Who is one loving — is it God, ones partner, the world, and humanity — or ones self? Of course, the more inclusive sense of love becomes apparent over the course of the book and the delineation of the nine things or principles (why not call them principles rather than the vague sounding term things) but a more descriptive title would be helpful. Also, what is the meaning of success? Is success gaining material attributes and esteem, or is it more of a combination of a sense of moral purpose and satisfaction? Clouds principles would suggest this is the case, but it is easy to see many of the principles being used in business as well as in ones personal life. This does not necessarily invalidate his words, but the fact that being successful should mean being successful in terms more meaningful than is often defined by our culture is an important thing to keep in mind.
As Cloud says: Do (Something)
Doing is the core philosophy of the book, doing good things, and doing things with a purpose, rather than engaging in negative and backwards-thinking reflection. Thus, with this in mind, Cloud offers a doing-focused program for the reader to follow. For example, he encourages the reader to write down his or her vision. Encouraging a counselee to keep a journal, or even writing with the individual, forcing him or her to put goals and fears into concrete words can be a powerful antidote to the vague fears some individuals express of the future.
Putting things down on paper makes the individual more accountable, but also makes it easier to break things down into a series of smaller goals and steps like Clouds persevering ant.
Cloud believes that it is essential to find support and role models from others, and within a community, something that it is part of a counselors duty to provide as an individual, but also as part of a larger spiritual community. Cloud acknowledges that no person is an island, and support from the right people is a crucial part of achievement, a refreshing idea in todays individualistic times. It is an important reminder for the counselor, however to help an individual define his or her goals, and his or her definition of success, as well as ground those goals within the mission of the church and according to principles beyond the individual.
Embracing imperfection and the need for practice is something that may be difficult, even for a counselor. But tolerance of the self and others foibles is necessary for true success. Without failures and the willingness to tolerate and weather small setbacks, and to use those setbacks in a positive way, an individual cannot learn. Failure as well as success is a part of practice, and how does one get to Carnegie Hall (or reach any goal) — without practice, practice, practice?
Henry Cloud, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, (New York: Integrity Publishers, 2004), p.3.