Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yes or No by Jeff Shinabarger

Yes and no are definitive words. They can change the trajectory of life.

A key question is, what do you do when you don't know what to do? How do you decide when the decision is not clear? That's where Shinabarger wants to help us, navigating that path to a difficult decision.

In the first half of the book Shinabarger shares his own story and the stories of others. He writes about the philosophical aspects of decisions, such as love, good works, wisdom, and gaining knowledge. He explores how to become a problem solver and how to determine our own decision making style.

He reveals his six-step process in the second half of the book, again with lots of stories. While reminding us prayer is a priority, he advocates considering the options, determining who is affected, consulting trusted advisers, identifying our fears, having a time of solitude, and taking a step. When he takes us through this process he gives plenty of examples (stories) and expands on the philosophy behind each step.

The style of Shinabarger's writing is that of a fellow across the coffee shop table, discussing decision making with you. He'll tell you stories illustrating aspects of decision making, offer some philosophy about making decisions, and then tell a few more stories. The strength of this book is his thoughts on the different aspects of the philosophy of making decisions. Also good is the section on decision making styles, something couples or governing bodies would find helpful.

This book is full of stories, lots of stories, personal stories, stories about others. There are few practical considerations of decision making. I would have rather had fewer stories and more practical instruction. For example, in his section on fear he writes, “Decision makers do not fear rejection; we look past the no in search of the yes.” Unfortunately, there are no practical suggestions as to how to do that.

In the “Take Action” section of the chapter on fear, Shinabarger does suggest finding a person whom you trust, “so he or she can help you move through that fear the next time it holds you back.” That would be the way to use this book, by reading it with a trusted friend or in a trusted group setting. At the end of every chapter he provides an action step and group discussions.

If you want to read a book about the various philosophical aspects of decision making in the context of lots of stories, you'll like this book. I would have preferred fewer stories and more on decision making techniques.

Food for thought: “If you want to contribute something significant in a broken world, choose to be a decision maker.”

Find out more about the book at where you can also take a decision-making style assessment.

Jeff Shinabarger is the author of one previous book. He leads a community in Atlanta called Plywood People and has participated in over one hundred start-ups solving problems through that community. He is the co-founder of Q and creatively led Catalyst for eight years. He and his wife live in East Atlanta Village and have two children.

David C. Cook, 256 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Icon Media for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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