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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moppin' Floors to CEO: Book Review

Moppin' Floors to CEO: From Hopelessness and Failure to Happiness and Success
 
We humans have a tendency to assume that there are only two types of people: lucky and unlucky.  We also tend to assume that if we can't see a person's challenges, they don't have any.  We'll neither of these assumptions, of course, are true.  Certainly, some people are more fortunate than others, no doubt about that, but all of us are vulnerable to misfortune, whether its an illness, loss of a loved one, or a tragic accident. Shit happens and it happens often indiscriminately.

So why do some people seem to flourish and progress even in the face of adversity, while others flounder and fall?  Well, a lot of it is resilience and perspective.  I will tell you right now, getting stuck in the 'why me' of it all is never helpful.  Life is not fair, but ruminating over that gets you nowhere.

I suppose this is one of the messages Dennis C. Miller is trying to get across in his autobiography. Moppin' Floors to CEO. Miller is an American, born in New Jersey in 1950.  His parents were emotionally neglectful and he consequently had behavioural problems as a child that negatively affected his early school achievement. 

Eventually, as a young man in his early 20s, he suffered from clinical depression and was hospitalized for a period of time.  He worked a variety of odd jobs and struggled with his mental health, self-esteem and identity.

Finally, he was inspired to return to school and ended up getting accepted into an Ivy League college to pursue an education in health care. Upon graduation he began an impressive career working in hospital management.

So what did I learn from this book? Well, personally, I only really learned about this guy, who I had never previously heard of, and about how hospitals in the U.S. are run (very differently than here in Canada because of the vast differences in our healthcare systems).

I did find the stuff about hospitals interesting, and some of the historical, economic and political context about life in the U.S. from the 1950s to present is interesting as well.  But the book meanders quite a bit, and, if you ask me, often includes a whole lot of minute details about various events in Miller's life that really aren't important or relevant.  In addition, while his career is very impressive, his life, overall is not terribly extraordinary.

To me, it is written like he is sharing life stories with his grandkids while sitting and drinking hot chocolate.  Quite a bit of editing should have been done to give the book more focus and direction.

Though Miller clearly wants to help end the stigma of depression and mental illness by being honest about his own experiences, I would not call this book a 'self-help' book by any stretch.  In fact, there is very little analysis provided about the link between his mental health and the events of his life.

What may be helpful to some readers, however, is how forthcoming Miller is about all the setbacks, failures and challenges he has had, which illustrates how someone who appears extremely fortunate and successful from the outside still may have significant struggles.  It was kind of comforting to me to see that even this smart, competent, hardworking man could face major hurtles in his career, but also that he could find a way get over them.  As I always tell my clients, progress and positive change are almost never a straight line!

So do I recommend this book? Sure, if you want a kind of interesting autobiography.  Perhaps it will be inspiring to some who struggle with mental health issues too.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review, but all opinions on this blog are my own.