Positive perspectives and practices for personal growth.


Front cover of S.U.M.O. by Paul McGeeWhat’s the secret of success?

I don’t usually write reviews on Helpful Habits, but I thought I’d make an exception for S.U.M.O. (Shut Up, Move On) by motivational speaker and author Paul McGee; a book that offers a simple, but powerful answer to that elusive question; which it neatly packages into a formula that’s as potentially revolutionary to personal achievement as E=MC² was to physics.

A bold statement I know, but one I only make through personal experience.

What’s the formula?

E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome)

The good news is, unlike its Einsteinian counterpart, E + R = O doesn’t require any intellectual prowess to grasp; just a healthy dose of common sense and a little commitment to put into practice.

What does it mean?

Well, E + R = O simply highlights the vital role we play through our response to events, as opposed to the events themselves, in determining the quality of our lives.

In other words, you, not circumstance or other people, take centre stage when it comes to determining whether the outcome of an event is good or bad.

But more than that, the formula asserts that you have the right, as well as the responsibility to consciously tailor your response to achieve the best possible outcome. And to do so, all you need is the courage to shift perspective from fatalism to proactivity… and a few common sense tactics to put that newly adopted perspective into practice.

Now I better point out that S.U.M.O. isn’t the first book to assert the above; in fact, ‘responsibility’ is a well-established, oft quoted fundamental of proactivity.

But this is one of the few books I have come across that doesn’t dilute or devalue the principle with a lot of superfluous bumf.

Wishful thinking?

So the basic premise of the book is that you’ll see the world differently if you give up the ‘blame game’ and start taking responsibility. You’ll no longer be imprisoned by circumstance, but instead will start to carve a life in line with your expectations, simply by refocusing on solutions and opportunities instead of life’s insurmountable brick walls.

Now it has to be said, that’s an uncomfortable premise for some people; one that’s often dismissed as unrealistic, harsh or simplistic tosh born out of sheer ignorance or arrogance (or maybe both).

In response, I’ll say this: I have overcome adversity the likes of which would have left Rambo whimpering for his Mum by consistently applying that very ethos – incapacitating illness, financial ruin, broken dreams and more.

And the same philosophy has helped others endure infinitely worse. The Jewish holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and author Viktor Frankl survived Nazi internment at Dachau concentration camp whilst his family perished; all he later wrote, thanks to the ‘last of the human freedoms’ – the freedom to choose his response.

So don’t take it from me, let Frankl’s example act as a profound reminder of the power of E + R = O.

The truth is, no one, no matter how cruel the twist of fate, has to live their life as a victim of circumstance; there’s always a choice.

Of course, firing up your audience with William Wallace-like inspirational rhetoric is one thing (Think Mel Gibson in a kilt, smeared with blue face-paint and shouting in a heavily Scotch influenced American accent “They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEEDOM!!!”), but effective real-world implementation is another.

That’s where I think S.U.M.O. does the job pretty well; because it doesn’t just instil that ‘I shall either find a way, or I shall make one’ mentality, it arms you with simple, but nevertheless powerful strategies to get you there.

A Manual for the Mind

Knowledge is power! When it comes to transforming your life, an appreciation of the workings of your own mind is possibly the most powerful knowledge you can possess; which S.U.M.O. aptly provides through an insightful journey into the innate flaws of human thinking.

The book illustrates how we’re prone to acting on ‘autopilot’ without considering the potential consequences; and how common thinking errors can both hijack reason and leave us at the unpredictable mercy of our emotions.

More importantly though, you’ll discover simple ways to short-circuit those self-sabotaging habitual behaviours; and learn how to replace them with ‘appropriate and effective’ alternatives that put you firmly in control.

S.U.M.O. also challenges you to scrutinise your perceptions; both by illustrating how our view of reality can easy be distorted by nature and nurture; how we’re vulnerable to inflexible thinking; and how our limited focus causes us to filter reality to meet our expectations, often to our detriment.

And more besides…it’ll challenge your attitudes to life, to success, to what’s really important.

But what’s New?

Ok…so the book offers a powerful equation for success (E + R = O); it also provides some pretty fool proof, practical strategies to help you to exploit it to the full.

But so do many other books; so what sets S.U.M.O. apart?

It’s concise: – This is a book that you can easily get through in a few hours; yet it’ll leave you with far greater clarity about what you want to achieve in life and what’s been holding you back. Likewise, pick it up during a few spare minutes and it’s guaranteed to refocus your mind and restore a healthier, more balanced perspective.

Two of the best life-advice books I’ve read are Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ and Anthony Robbins’ ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ – both of which offer a lifetime’s worth of wisdom, but also share a common Achilles heel: – they can leave you feeling overwhelmed with information.

S.U.M.O. perfectly fills that gap by providing similarly solid, potentially life changing advice, but in an eminently readable, succinct format; a format that greatly increases the odds that you’ll put what you’ve read into effective practice.

It’s digestible: – How do you most effectively learn? If you’re like me, you absorb what you can relate to.

This is a book filled with everyday examples that we’re all familiar with: – Being chased down the motorway by an idiot in a big car; blaming other people for failing exams or not being promoted; scuppering future relations for the sake of making a point; persecuting yourself month-after-month for making an embarrassing blunder; falling out with those you care about because you couldn’t see their point of view and they couldn’t see yours.

Being able to identify with these all too familiar errors of judgement and inappropriate behaviours breathes life into the common sense advice in S.U.M.O. It’s not abstract, it recounts everyday trials and tribulations that you can easily relate to and learn from.

As such, it’s both a great introduction to what it means, and what it takes to take charge of your life; and a powerful reminder of the important principles you need to live by in order to forge a life of your choosing.

In a nutshell:

As far as handbooks for living are concerned, S.U.M.O. is very accessible…and empowering. Through straightforward, unassuming language and everyday examples it’ll show you a deceptively simple plan for living a life of your own conscious design. Nothing pretentious, no wishy-washy or dubious advice about making a 30 day wish-list and just waiting for your guardian angel to make it all come true; just simple, common-sense advice as to how to always respond effectively to life’s events.

After all, as the book says at its beginning, it all really boils down to one thing:

Event + Response = Outcome

All-in-all, with that formula kept firmly in mind, and with the practical strategies provided in S.U.M.O. you’ll find yourself little wiser, a little more focused, and you won’t be able to help but see the world through a clearer, more proactive lens.

So wherever you are in life, the book is well worth a read.

You can preview S.U.M.O. on Google Books or find out more about the author at The S.U.M.O. Guy.

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