Most books I read are fact-filled nonfiction. It doesn’t matter how many I’ve read before, anything written that shares thoughts on how to create a happy and thriving life grab my interest. But even better is when I can find those same ideas in a business-parable-type book. One such book, Trap Tales—Outsmarting The 7 Hidden Obstacles to Success delivers as an entertaining and inspiring business book told in story form.
Ever play chess? According to authors David M.R. Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks, the sign of a good chess player is the ability to avoid the traps of the game. Likewise, anyone who can spot a “life” trap before it trips you up can learn to avoid them. Once you become practiced at seeing how they block your way, you can redirect your actions in a positive and fulfilling way. The message behind this enjoyable story is how a man named Alex discovers the seven common traps that capture most of us and keep us from living our best life possible.
Making the book even more interesting was the fact that nearly every chapter would make a great blog post here on SMART Living 365. It’s tempting to give you all seven of the traps but what makes this such a fun read is letting the story unfold and seeing how they play out in Alex’s life. So rather than list the traps, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book that sound as though they came right out of the SMART Living playbook. Even more fun is that nearly every one of these comes from the “wise elder” in the book. A woman named Victoria teaches Alex that:
- “The core message of the Traps Framework is hope—the belief that humans can change the trajectory of their lives through wise choices and course correction. This hope is essential.”
- “Most traps cause short-term-itis, the thinking that the pleasure we get now is worth the pain we’ll experience later.”
- “Changing our behavior patterns is very difficult. Some people would rather die than change…. a study looked at people with severe heart diseases who had undergone bypass surgery—and just two years after the operation 90 percent of them had not changed their lifestyle.”
- “We get caught up in the acquisition of stuff. This mindset pervades the world we live in. We start believing that the purpose of money is to acquire, so we acquire a lot of unnecessary stuff.”
- “You can’t go back and change the past. It’s done. But you can course-correct as you go forward.”
- “Money can be your tool or your taskmaster. When people are deeply in debt, money becomes their master; their choices are limited, their options are reduced, they find themselves living in bondage. When people allow money to work for them through the power of compound interest, their money is multiplied and unleashed. It gives them leverage.”
- “In reality, Alex, trivial matters end up getting most of our attention, because truly important pursuits require us to be proactive. The things that matter most often require action, to step outside our normal routine and create space in our schedule so that we can focus. Otherwise, we become overwhelmed by the minutiae of everyday life and other people’s agendas.”
- “I think you’ll find that—as important as it is to create your daily or weekly to-do-list—it is equally important to create your not-to-do-list.”
- “The money we receive from our work is important, but it shouldn’t ever become the main reason for working.”
- “You’ll find in life that there are two forces at play that move a person to change: the force of conscience or the force of circumstance. Either we act on what we know we need to change, or we are compelled to act by the reality of our circumstances.”
- “I call procrastination the killer of growth and transformation.”
- “Fighting change is a self-preservation instinct. If we successfully avoid change, we successfully manage our baggage and protect what we know, or our way of life…Even when people know they need to change, they look for all kinds of rationalizations to delay those changes until eventually their circumstances force them to do so.”
- “In life we have two choices: either we act on things or we let things act on us.”
- “Anytime you are trying to make drastic changes—like what you are currently doing, Alex—you need to start creating in your mind the new story, while at the same time silencing the old story that is ingrained in your head.”
- “Rejoice and celebrate the effort, the journey, and the process as much as in the end result. Mistakes are instructive. Learn from them instead of hiding from them.”
- “The epiphany…comes through realizing that true happiness does not come from possessions. It comes from serving others and making meaningful contributions that benefit other people long after we are gone. It is living with the realization that bondage is not in owning things but in having things literally own you…”
- “Success is defined in our society as if it were a competition, or a race to accumulate the best and the most.
- “Nobody on their deathbed ever wishes they had accumulated more stuff. What they talk about are the relationships, experiences, connections, and contributions they made.”
Can you guess what some of the traps are? Probably. And if you’re feeling trapped by anything in your life right now, or like me, find yourself occasionally being caught up in actions, behaviors or thinking that sometimes catch you by surprise, then you will likely find this book helpful. Even those of us who have read and studied many of these ideas should benefit from this short and entertaining tale.
Becoming a “certified trapologist” in the field of trapology is made easier when we have the guidebook. But like most SMART Living perspectives, it does require our time and attention. Fortunately, the journey can be rewarding and fun as long as we continue to read the right bedtime stories along the way.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. However, my opinion and thoughts about it are completely my own.
It’s so true that what our society defines as success and happiness is far from ideal. Getting rid of the idea of accumulating stuff and moving onto the idea of investing in relationships and your own growth is a huge step forward to real happiness.
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Leanne! Isn’t it nice to read about the ideas that we write so much on our blogs in a business book? This one, sort of like “Who Moved My Cheese” is an easy read but very enjoyable way of reminding ourselves of what is really important in life. Even better, I was pleasantly surprised to read a few new ideas that put it into perspective for me. I liked the book a lot! (could you tell!) Thanks for your thoughts. ~Kathy
Traps and Change, a tough partnership. Now I have to read the book because you piqued my interest!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Haralee! I do recommend the book to anyone, especially those of us who read business books. If you do pick it up, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. ~Kathy
Tom Sightings says
All great advice that most of us know, but often forget. We let trivial matters take over our attention, while losing sight of our dreams. And, having recently spent a lot of time downsizing, so I know this first-hand … most of our “stuff” is trivial. Thanks for the reminder!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Tom! Yes, this was one of the most interesting parts of the book. It’s not that most of us don’t know that we are greatly distracted by what Victoria in the book calls “thin things,” it’s just that it is so much a habit that we spend a HUGE amount of our time doing superficial things each and every day. Books like this help me to remember and offer new advice how to focus on what really matters. I think you’d like the book if you get a chance to pick up a copy. ~Kathy
Susan Mary Malone says
As someone who has fallen in pretty much all the traps in life, I can see I’d be a terrible chess player! Lol. But I did learn from them.
What great quotes from this book. My fav: ““In life we have two choices: either we act on things or we let things act on us.”
Love this, Kathy!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Susan! Yes, you noticed I didn’t make any claims as to what kind of chess player I am either. The good news is that (Like Victoria in the book) we only fail if we don’t learn from what we’ve gone through. It sounds like you’ve got that handled and could easily pick up the tools to be a trapolgist! ~Kathy
Still the Lucky Few says
Change is such a ‘push-pull’ force in our lives. Before we decide to change anything, I find, we need to deliberate about it—what purpose does this change serve? Will it really improve my life? Is it change for the sake of change? There were periods in my life when I just waded in and embraced change, without too much thought. I’m more careful now, having reached an age of greater wisdom!
Kathy Gottberg says
Hi Diane! Yes, you guessed correctly 😉 that Victoria has a LOT to say about change in the book. Her calling change being driven either by the force of conscience or the force of circumstance, reminded me of so many others who say we build our life by “design” or by “default”. But as you say, we have to know ourselves well enough to know what will most deeply bring us the result we reach for. As you say, change for just the sake of change isn’t wise! Thanks for that input. ~Kathy