Written by: Brittany Lyonette
My Biggest Takeaway:
If the title of the book put you off a bit, then this book is for you! Though the title may sound a bit cold, the book is the absolute opposite. In fact the author, Paul McGee is much more compassionate in his writings than the title may lead you to think. McGee pulls from his own life experiences, failures, and successes to help you Stop, Understand, and Move On (which is the title used when teaching the principles in schools.)
Tom recommended this book to me nearly a decade ago when we first met. His step mother gave it to him to read at a time when he was going through some major personal and career changes. It had a profound impact on how Tom approached his new surroundings and is one of many spokes in the very big wheel of what makes Tom who he is today. When I told Tom I was finally going to read SUMO for the first time and as part of our Book Club he cheered!
The main focus of the book is to notice your limiting beliefs/habits/mindsets and to take action to correct them so that you can improve your life and accomplish what you set out to. The SUMO philosophy is broken down into the following categories:
- Take time to reflect, and get off auto-pilot,
- Build some down time / recovery time into everyday life,
- Use personal responsibility as the cornerstone for creating the life you want,
- Find new ways to react differently and develop resilience,
- Decide what’s really important, and keep things in perspective,
- Improve communication and the quality of your relationships,
- Take action rather than letting things happen / avoid fatalistic thinking.
What hit home for me the most was when McGee describes, early on, the tendency for people to wear what he calls the "victim t-shirt". Now, he recognizes that in many cases people may truly be victimized and he encourages anyone who is in trouble or needs help to seek it out. However, he challenges the reader to notice where in their lives they are using their imagined victim status to give them permission to not succeed.
Wearing the victim t-shirt present as statements like, “I have a crappy job because my guidance counselor in high school never encouraged me.” or “I can’t find time to workout because my family demands so much of my time.” or "My boss doesn't like me so I’ll never get that promotion. I may as well not even apply.” We’ve all been there…
I remember clearing in my early twenties when I decided I wouldn’t wear my victim t-shirt anymore. I had a chaotic upbringing and blamed a lot of my shortcomings on a lack of direction which I felt should have come from the authority figures in my life. The day I decided that I was an adult and had to start taking responsibility for my own actions (or in-actions) was a major turning point in my life. Reading this chapter helped me to realize that there are still times where I’m unknowingly putting that old t-shirt back on again, and made me think, “What can I accomplish once I stop wearing that victim t-shirt?”
All in all, SUMO has been one of my favourite self improvement books to date because of how simple and straightforward it is. I'm excited to go back and to do some of the SUMO exercises McGee outlines in the book to see where it will bring me in 2021!