3 out of 4 stars
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As a student of psychology, business owner, personal trainer, health coach, and former competitive bodybuilder who was sidelined by an injury, Robert Kirby is certainly an expert in manifesting and maintaining motivation. His experiences as an athlete (and a human with goals) moved him to write Motivational Spirit: How to Keep Yours Solid as a Rock! in order to share his insights regarding personal drive and overcoming the issues which can undermine determination. Kirby has done his audience the service of exhaustively researching his subject and has compiled all of the most relevant, impactful advice into less than 200 pages. The result is a step-by-step guide that addresses motivation (or lack thereof) from all angles: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social.
Motivational Spirit is thoroughly well researched and draws on sources spanning the last 6 decades in subjects including psychology, biology, sociology, counseling, communication, relationships, etc. Kirby's work is also elegantly organized. Each chapter and section builds neatly on the one before without feeling redundant. This wealth of information, intuitively divided into segments and lists, is easy to digest and understand. As a reader, I appreciated the fluidity and approachability of the content and the language.
I also appreciate Kirby’s recognition of the fact that motivation itself is highly personal. He believes profoundly in the importance of daily self-observation and self-reflection. These two foundational ideas underpin his coaching process. While goals and motivation are specific to the individual, the methodology for recognizing and addressing issues such as discouragement, procrastination, and burnout is very "transferable," to use the author's own word. Essentially, Kirby provides his readers with the understanding and the tools to coach themselves through whatever obstacles or setbacks are dampening their drive to succeed. Motivational Spirit features the moving stories of athletes, such as tennis player Rafael Nadal, who overcame performance and personal obstacles. Especially useful are several hypothetical case studies in which Kirby introduces a fictitious athlete with a motivation-sapping situation, identifies the source(s) of the problem, and makes suggestions specific to that athlete as to how to overcome those issues. These case studies succinctly illustrate the potential troubles an athlete may face, the evidence of those troubles, and the "diagnosis and treatment" process.
While this book is plainly intended for athletes, which I am not, I found most of the insights and advice to be universally helpful. Specifically, the passages on self-dialogue and self-belief were of immeasurable value to me. These chapters broke down the (paraphrased) cycle: What you say about yourself is what you believe about yourself, and your self-beliefs determine your limits. If you are constantly self-critical, you do not view yourself objectively, and you don't regard setbacks as opportunities, you fail before you begin. Additionally, the sections on effective communication and team cohesion are applicable in any relationship. I thought to myself, "Any team benefits from effective communication and team-building, and what is a family but a team?"
Kirby recommends a treasure trove of exercises and activities, including but not limited to breathing and meditation, keeping specific journals and logs, personal verbal or physical feedback and cues, short- and long-term goal setting, habit reminders, and regular gut-checks. To that end, he includes many questions to ask yourself, which include (paraphrased): To what do you attribute your success or failure? Are you motivated by task mastery or by your ego? What is your mission statement?
I truly love this book and found it to be endlessly encouraging, especially statements such as:
"Trial and correction, not trial and error."
There were editing errors, such as occasional missing or misplaced commas and hyphens, missing slashes (e.g. "and or"), rogue spaces, and disagreement between subjects and the corresponding verbs. These did not disrupt the flow of reading, but there were enough of them to cost the book a star. Considering that this jam-packed motivational resource includes everything from hard science, personal-improvement activities, engaging photos, poetry, and even related word searches, I would love to award it 3.5 stars. Since I am prohibited from fractional ratings, I am highly motivated to give Motivational Spirit, by Robert Kirby, 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to anyone, athlete or otherwise, who wants to be "Solid as a Rock" in the daily pursuit of their dreams."If you can perceive difficulties and setbacks as challenges to overcome and an opportunity for growth, you can change those experiences into advantages."
Motivational Spirit : How to Keep Yours Solid as a Rock!
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