Book Review: Find Your Strongest Life

Title: Find Your Strongest Life
Author: Marcus Buckingham
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

It’s not often that I find finishing a book feeling like a chore—but that’s what I found with Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham.

Buckingham wants readers to discover their strengths and weaknesses—what tasks, events and people motivate, energize, and inspire them? Conversely, what tasks, events and people are draining, joyless and painful? The key to living a strong life is to minimize or outright eliminate our weaknesses and maximize our strengths. There will always be some difficulty, but there will be a certain satisfaction that comes from it.

That’s the message of this book, and Buckingham illustrates it well, particularly with Charlie, a woman gifted in developing systems who was ill-suited for a career as an office manager and lacked the assertiveness to talk to her boss/husband about it.

While there are some helpful insights, this is a book I cannot recommend. Why?

First, I don’t find Buckingham to be particularly skilled as a writer. I do not enjoy reading his words and felt there was a lot of filler. Admittedly, this is subjective, and other will disagree.

Secondly, this book feels like an episode of Oprah (due, in part, to Buckingham having been a guest on the show). Women (men, too) need to look to themselves and self-actualize their potential to find their strongest lives, according to the author. It’s standard self-help gobbledygook.

My final concern: The author’s belief that it’s a great thing for moms to go back to work right away, rather than stay home. “The good new is that this isn’t stopping women from on-ramping back into work after having kids, in spite of media stories of a new generation of women choosing to opt out. Today, when women leave to have children, they return fast and in great numbers” (p. 38). It’s certainly not wrong for women to work after they have children if they need to, but the author fails to address why they are going back so quickly. In nearly every instance I’ve seen, poor financial decisions, student debt, debilitating injury or illness, and laziness are key factors in the decision to go back to work. Rarely have I seen a woman go back to work because they genuinely want to. Perhaps this is an unwarranted concern, but it is a major red flag for me, simply based on my worldview and values.

In the end, Find Your Strongest Life fails to live up to its title. You may want to look elsewhere to truly find your strongest life.

Not recommended.