Plot: Impassioned and provocative, Alex Neumann's Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind at first resembles many other self-improvement books, especially those in the robust subgenre dedicated to achieving success. Neumann includes many inspiring thumbnail biographies of high-achieving individuals who faced rejection in their lives, and he asks readers questions like "Are You a Marathoner or a Sprinter?" in chapters with titles like "Stop Whining. Start Thriving" and "Obstacles into Opportunities." But rather than promise, as other authors do, to guide readers to the achievement of material success, Neumann daringly questions what success means in the first place. Fascinatingly, he challenges readers to see through the "fallacy" of money-minded success and free themselves from society's mind-traps while he still offers the kind of inspiring shorthand life stories of figures like Oprah Winfrey, Susan Boyle, and J.K. Rowling common to more conventional books in his genre.
Prose/Style: Neumann's prose, for the most part, is direct and encouraging. He shrewdly builds and arranges paragraphs to develop questions and challenge reader assumptions, and he understands the value of offering examples and re-stating his most essential ideas in multiple ways. Neumann's meanings are mostly clear throughout the book, even as the prose at times is awkward or imprecise.
Originality: It's an inspired and original idea to marshal all the techniques of the business self-improvement book in order to argue that the idea of "market success" is dangerous and limiting.
Character Development: Neumann's bold book is at its strongest when the author balances the traditional techniques of business self-help with his own challenging ideas and inventions. But the book could be more user-friendly – the long chapters aren't always clearly organized or differentiated, and the table of contents offers little guide to where specific material might be categorized. Neumann is adept at linking parables and mini-biographies to his arguments, but one technique he has not borrowed from self-improvement literature is the adoption of the bearing of a salesman. He presents the material, but he doesn't always sell it -- or make it easy to find.
Date Submitted: October 08, 2020
The book exploits the techniques of its genre to draw a firm distinction between status-driven “market success” and a more enduring, humane, and sustainable idea of what it means to make it in a capitalist society. “Market success has led to millions of deaths around the world,” Neumann argues, pointing to climate change and cancer caused by pursuit of profits with little care for side effects, and wars fought over oil. Elsewhere, he insists that “What market success does to you is to commit perspectivecide,” meaning that it limits a person’s understanding of what truly matters. However, his book is no screed of denunciation. As he links titans of industry to his factors for true success, readers may wish for an acknowledgment of the seeming contradiction that those titans’ profits depended on the consumerism Neumann calls a “behavioral addiction.”
Neumann advocates for four qualitative factors of true success: compassionate service to others, a life fully lived, a commitment to achieving a vision, and a feeling of eternal joy. He encourages readers to apply familiar business success techniques (perseverance, making opportunity out of obstacles) towards a goal grander than the acquisition of wealth or status: the rewiring of ideas of what a successful life looks like. There’s much here that will intrigue readers who want to attain personal success without undue costs to those around them.
Takeaway: Readers looking to thread the needle of material success without exploitation will find this self-help book a useful guide.
Great for fans of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Og Mandino.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-