4 out of 4 stars
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My review of And Then I Met Margaret – by Rob White
And Then I Met Margaret is a motivational non-fiction book comprising of twenty-one chapters. To be honest, when I read the title of the book, I thought I was about to read a nice account of how the author met his spouse or how a certain lady called Margaret positively influenced his life. The introduction listed a lot of gurus the author had met in his life. Some of them are highly respected motivational or inspirational speakers, and from the tone of the author’s words, he appeared to have found them all wanting. I nearly stopped reading at this point. Then curiosity got the better of me. If he did not find any use for all these gurus, what did he find that he wished to share in this book? I decided to stick around and find out. And I am very glad I did! Each chapter is backed up with an interesting story of how the author developed the insight that debunked a myth he had previously believed to be true.
In chapter 1, the author recalls how he used to believe that kindness is an act of self – interest and how his unmarried aunt’s sacrificial and protective love led him to believe otherwise. Aunt Theresa’s act of kindness propelled him to show kindness and love to other people later as an adult. I salute Aunt Theresa’s courage and altruism, but being an advocate of self-preservation, I doubt very much if I can do what she did. I would have simply developed another card game or stopped playing card games if that was not possible.
The theme of kindness runs through the next three chapters. In chapter 2, the author writes about an incident in which his attempt to assist his uncle who was a magician during an act was a blunder. He interpreted the event in the most positive way possible and used it to inspire his students many years later.
Very few of us can deny our love for sweets and candies as children. The author takes a candy in a candy shop without paying in chapter 3. A stranger’s kindness in not exposing the author makes him repentant and he shows an erring stranger kindness many years later in chapter 4.
Chapter 5 and 6 are chapters that most teenagers will definitely relate to. I could relate to the author wanting to hide the name of the town he came from and “adopting” a bigger town because he was ashamed of his humble origin. The lessons here were on self-assertion, self -confidence and being oneself. The need to dream big and choose friends carefully is underscored too.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Shakespeare in my Left Pants Pocket” (Chapter 7). It taught me that learning to win with integrity is the best way to live. It reminded me of an incident when I was writing a postgraduate examination and the candidate next to me was “noisily” drawing an illustration in answer to a question. I could not imagine which question required a drawing and I was tempted to peep. I suddenly felt very strongly that if I peep I will fail the exam so I turned the other way and continued with my paper. About five minutes to the end of that examination, an idea crossed my mind about what I could draw and I quickly drew it. After the exam, I asked the candidate what she drew so noisily. It turned out it was the same illustration I drew towards the end of the examination that she drew. I did not need to peep or cheat to excel! Chapter 8 emphasizes that honesty pays and that paying attention is essential for succeeding in life.
In “Craving a Lilac Mint” (chapter 9), I learned that deep down all of us, no matter how confident we may appear, have feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and self–doubt. Successful people learn to master their fears, take action in spite of them, and persist till they succeed. After reading chapter 10, I came to the conclusion that belief in oneself can be a propelling factor for self-improvement and achievement of goals and targets.
I have had personal experiences of hearing an inner voice and ignoring it at my peril. The author’s personal experience in Chapter 11 reinforced this for me. In truth, the benefit of listening to one’s inner voice is limitless – it can not only save one’s money, it can save one’s life.
In chapter 12 the author suggests that there is a definite connection between feeling helpless and bad manners. Some rude and angry people we meet in our lives may be going through difficult times and feeling helpless about them. One should therefore perhaps be more tolerant and accommodating when dealing with others. Chapter 13 taught me that the desire to remain in control can hinder us from flying or taking off. It pays to be true to one’s feelings. One shouldn’t be trapped into doing things one is uncomfortable with.
The big lesson for me in “Life in the Fast Lane” (Chapter 14) was that one should never lose focus. We should look at where we want to go in life, not at where we don’t want to go. It is amazing what can happen if we just focus our hearts and minds on where we want to go and ignore distractions.
“Running with the Bulls” (Chapter 15) taught me about misplaced priorities and showed me why I should not get upset about little things that on a bigger wider scale are actually irrelevant. I liked the pun the author used here: “If one has the important things in life, the rest is just bull”.
Chapter 16 was about the motivational speech that went wrong. I realized that being oneself is the beginning of true and genuine self – confidence. Most people can relate to our flaws as they have theirs too. This can be a solid ground for true motivation.
I liked the three wonderful character qualities Philippa displayed in the story in chapter 17: “cheerfulness in the face of rudeness; tolerance in the face of discourtesy & forgiveness in the face of intrusiveness”.
The story of Margaret from which the book derived its title is in chapter 18. Margaret was a young child on a field trip in a new red dress. Despite all the preparations to “wow” the children with a tour of his new restaurant, Margaret’s question brought a realization to the author that people have other things that are important to them in their own world.
The author’s experience on a trip to Africa is the inspiration for chapter 19. He is inspired by a mother’s courage and strength in the face of loss and tragedy. It taught him that one can go beyond oneself and that personal power is without limit. On my part, I was struck by the diversity of cultures and beliefs and how our faith or belief can give us strength in difficult times.
“License and Registration, please” (Chapter 20) was a lesson in honesty. I enjoyed this very much because it reminded me of a recent event in my life. I needed parking space and tried to park my car in an empty slot. I did not realize it was reserved for staff of the establishment. The security personnel asked me if I was a staff. I promptly said no. He was touched by my sincerity and showed me somewhere else to park my car which was even more convenient. I liked the author’s summary of this chapter: Honesty helps you walk your talk and life your life according to what is important and true.
“I decided not to die”, the story in chapter 21, is a lesson in resilience, determination and courage in the face of serious health challenges. One can choose not to give up in the face of serious financial or relationship challenges.
This was undoubtedly the best motivational book I have read thus far. I stumbled on just a few errors so I know that the book was professionally edited. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is laden with success pills and principles for developing a healthy positive attitude to life’s challenges and trials.
And Then I Met Margaret
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