8 to Great: The Powerful Process for Positive Change entered my life through my office’s employee development program. M.K. Mueller is a Kansas City local, so the boss thought we should support locally and give her program a try.
Overall, the “8 to Great” process is nothing but old self-improvement advice repackaged in a trendier way. The formatting of the program is effective, as each of the eight “High-Ways” builds upon the ones before it to lead the reader to his/her highest self. Each chapter covers a different “High-Way” and follows the same structure, which makes the information within easy and comfortable to ingest. However, some of the language, specifically the puns and plays on words, make the book feel cheesy and forced.
My biggest problem with this program is that several of the “High-Ways” contradict one another. For example, High-Ways 5 and 6 tell the reader that, when someone is mad at him/her, that person is just feeling his/her “angergy” and that nothing that person feels is a result of the reader or his/her actions. However, High-Way 3 informs the reader that he/she must take “full-responsibility” for his/her actions. Clearly, one is not actually taking full responsibility if one denies the impact one’s actions have on others. This is just one example of many ideological conflicts from this program.
To conclude, here are my brief reviews of each “High-Way:”
High-Way 1: Get the Picture
I agree that being able to state one’s goals clearly and visualize them helps in their attainment. However, I cannot buy into the idea that simply visualizing them is enough to make the universe manifest them for you.
High-Way 2: Risk
The tenants of this High-Way hold for me. One must take risks in order to change one’s place in life, whether they be big or small. This chapter is a great pep talk for people who need to get off their butts and get in motion.
High-Way 3: Full Responsibility
This chapter is something many people need to read: own up and take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and your own happiness.
High-Way 4: Feel All Your Feelings
In this chapter, Mueller maintains that all feelings are neutral: not good, not bad, they just are. Moreover, she encourages the reader to use feelings like sadness and anger as energy to fuel the reader’s ambitions. While easier to say than do, I like the point she is making.
High-Way 5: Honest Communication
I believe this is the most useful chapter of the program. It suggests specific strategies that can be used to improve one’s communication in almost every social relationship as well as with one’s self.
High-Way 6: Forgiveness of the Past
While everyone knows the now-Disneyed adage, “Let it go,” this chapter is somewhat unique to other forgiveness advice. It offers simple exercises the reader can undergo in order to work toward forgiveness, which seem like they could truly be helpful. However, I would add: don’t forget to take responsibility for the harm you may have caused others.
High-Way 7: Gratitude for the Present
As with the other chapters, this one is nothing new. However, creative and artistic types should glance through it for tips on finding inspiration in even the most mundane aspects of life.
High-Way 8: Hope for the Future
This concept, I did not like. I agree that hope is good and maintaining optimism is important for one’s well-being. However, Mueller markets hope as a cop-out for when “getting the picture” doesn’t magically manifest one’s dreams. In short, she defines hope as surrendering to the universe and trusting that eventually one’s goals will be fulfilled in some way…without one having to lift a finger. Maybe I just didn’t drink enough of the Kool-Aid, but I believe that people need to use hard work and hope together, not just hope on its own, to manifest their dreams.
In short, this book is well-structured and an easy read. As long as the reader doesn’t think too critically about the information provided, I see no reason why this program could not teach one new skills and improve one’s life and outlook.
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