Can I tell you something? I like lists.
I like them because they break down information (something else I enjoy) into easily digestible parts, and because they give me a sense of accomplishment as I check items off. In other words, they help me to feel more in control of my environment.
I have a plan. I have steps. I can conquer the world.
(Just kidding on that last one.)
Seriously, who else tends to feel as if a project is half accomplished once it’s broken down into steps? Self-help gurus know and cash in on this very well.
Therefore, when I had the chance a few years ago to be a beta reader for a book called Tom’s List: 50 Commandments to Transform Your Life by Randall Hartman, it didn’t take much consideration for me to sign on. For one thing, next to lists, I’m rather a sucker for promises of transformation. Never mind that at nearly sixty years old I still haven’t effected even half as much of one as I’ve at various times planned. And that fifty commandments are, well, a lot. Even the Good Book contains only ten, and don’t they cover pretty much everything?
But Tom’s List is so much more than a litany of platitudes—or glib advice. It’s filled with simple yet deep-rooted “Why” questions that nudge us out of our unthinking routines and into the sort of thinking that sparks change. And three years after the book’s publication, I finally got around to thanking Dr. Hartman for . . .
. . . your generosity in not keeping these nuggets of wisdom to yourself. As you said in your preface, nobody’s getting any younger, and now is the time to start upgrading our lives. How blessed you were to have such a friend as Tom Drake. Among other things, a lifelong avid reader and learner who distilled the “meaningful truths [he] had gleaned while reading one book per week” for four decades into 50 individual lines!
In your preface, you also said that “the work has already been done”—meaning, of course, that the rest of us won’t have to plow through a couple thousand volumes—but you were being too modest. Your contribution of examples and applications from your own life, in easy-to-follow and highly relatable form, show us how we can all end up better at the end of just one year than when we began it, in just one step per week.
So thanks for taking that “neatly typed” list Tom’s widow found in his briefcase and making it your own as well. Tom would have been so happy to know it.
Folks, do yourself a favor and check out Tom’s List for yourself. Then do Dr. Hartman a favor and let him know of any positive results you experience. I’m sure he’d love to hear from you.