The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do
I’m the first person to admit that many self-help books are pure hogwash, but I also think that there are some very good ones that will help pull you out of a rut if you take the time to seriously consider the exercises and put them into practice. For example, Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster really helped change my perspective on consumerism, corporate responsibility, and God’s role in providing what we need. (Yes, it’s a Christian self-help book. Christians probably need just as much, if not more, help as everyone else out there.) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was revolutionary in its time and even now, it’s a highly recommended book. There are multiple classes that use it as a textbook at my college. (I have tried to read it multiple times but never gotten past the first three habits. It’s an extremely dense book.) Where does The Encore Effect fall on the self-help shelves?
Mark Sanborn wants to help you perform your tasks in life, whatever they may be, with passion, energy and delight. When you hear an excellent singer, what do you shout at the end of the concert? Encore! Do more! This is the reaction Sanborn’s book seeks to help you create at the end of every interview, presentation, conversation and situation. If you can leave your ‘audience’ – your boss, your friends, co-workers, and customers – satisfied, and perhaps craving just a little extra time with you, you will stand out in the crowd and succeed.
Honestly, The Encore Effect seemed rather like 7 Habits Lite. At less than 150 pages, written in very easy language, it’s a fast read. You could probably sit down and read the book in two hours tops. But like most self-help books, you will get far more out of the book by reading it in small doses, and taking the time to put what you’ve read into practice. Unfortunately, Mark Sanborn is big on ideas and platitudes but a bit fuzzy on details and how-to. In his chapter on “Pitfalls: How to Keep From Stumbling,” he writes about all the things that may prevent you from achieving your maximum performance, like apathy or fear. These are very good things to address. However, Sanborn doesn’t really address them. I don’t have a final copy of the book, so I can’t provide a direct quote, but in effect he says that the antidote for apathy is concern.
No, that’s it. Concern is the solution. If Sanborn had perhaps included a paragraph explaining how to foster concern about something you don’t care about – because there are a lot of things I should feel passionately for, but I don’t – it would have been more helpful. If he’d written a whole chapter addressing this pitfall, that would be even better. But telling the reader that the best way to fight apathy, one of the worst pitfalls to achieving your ultimate performance, is with concern, and moving on without addressing the topic further is very frustrating and not at all useful.
A lot of the advice/suggestions in the book are extremely common sense. Sanborn did have some excellent passages about the importance of deliberate practice, or doing tasks with an eye on improvement rather than just getting the job done. If you’ve never taken a public speaking course he also has some solid advice about connecting with your audience. The reader can take useful information away from this book, but I feel like I’m reading a first draft. There isn’t enough depth or applicable step-by-step instructions.
Interesting Note: I read this book as a bound galley, not the final version that hit bookstores. Apparently, the fairly secular self-help manuscript I read has metamorphosed into a Christian self-help book, with an added feature called “Intersections” at the end of each chapter that tie Sanborn’s words to the New Testament book of John and more references to God in the actual text. Correction: There are two versions of this book in print: a Christian version printed by Waterbrook Press and a secular version printed by Doublesday. Thank you so much for clarifying this, Mark! (PS - He wrote a great follow-up note in the comments, so be sure to read it as well!)