Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: 'Looking Back' by Stuart Ball


Stuart Ball has written many books on subject from In Remembrance of Me, Tests and Measurements, to Britain’s Hoverflies, and microprocessors. With all of this life experience we can readily accept his evaluation of the formation of life rules!

Stuart’s demeanor is established early on in his Introduction – ‘This is my look back at things I’ve learned about life – the rules that make life a little easier… My only claim to the knowledge in this book is experience. I’m an engineer by profession, but I’ve been a manager of people and a manager of projects and I’ve been a pastor and so I’ve done my share of pastoral guidance and advice. I’ve seen the impact of a life filled with things like bitterness and anger. I’ve realized how things tie together, decisions and circumstances, in ways that I didn’t get when I was younger. I’ve known people who made good decisions and bad ones… It has been said that a smart person learns from his or her own mistakes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others. I’ve done some of both. There is a third category, those who don’t seem to learn at all. I’ve tried not to be that person. Learning everything the hard way may make good country and western music, but it isn’t an easy way to go through life. I’m hoping that what I’ve put together in this book will help you be a wiser person.’

Stuart’s wisdom feels like a fireside chat, so personal and yet general does he keep his advice. To gain the full impact of this rather short book requires the reader to spend the time turning the pages and allowing the rules to seep in. Stuart’s seven rules are as follows: ‘Focus on what you can control, What You Want, Pick One, You Find What You Look For, Cougar Tracks, Know the Difference Between Opinion and Fact, and Never Say Never Wrapping Up.

Yes, some of the categories are teasers by title, but take the time to absorb the energy and experience the author shares so willingly and the sobriquets used as titles hold the energy of the rules! Seven rules for finding our life lead to success – no matter in what realm we define. In his final section he demonstrates his quality humor – ‘There are a lot of different Internet sites that will tell you what rules for life you should follow. You should walk barefoot or act like you never grew up (if none of us are grown up, where are the adults in the room?). Be a leader, not a follower (if we’re all leaders, who are we leading?). Share your wealth. Stop thinking (seriously?). Dance more. Sing more. I actually saw one that said to be a dreamer, not a realist. Who is going to grow the food the dreamers eat or build their iPhones? Fairies? Most of these lists are someone’s idea of how they should live their life. But it may not apply to you. All too often these lists are about some unrealistic life lived as a string of unconnected emotional experiences, with no bills to pay and in a world where violent people don’t exist and everything just works out somehow with no effort on your part. A world that is only possible if you are somehow insulated from reality. Tell those ideas to a single mom who is working two jobs. But be prepared to duck. The reality is that we all have different personalities, different goals, different fears, and different experiences. One person is an introvert while another is an extrovert. One person is willing to take big chances for big reward, while another is more cautious. Who is to say that only the extroverts or risk-takers have the right point of view? Books about the importance of taking huge risks with your life don’t talk about the people for whom it didn’t work. Only the success stories make it into the final manuscript.’

Take the time to absorb this well crafted little book. Grady Harp, September 16









Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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