As I walked up to the bookseller at my local Barnes & Noble, I felt a slight creep of embarrassment. "Can you point me to the 'self-help' section?" I asked, the air quotations around "self-help" all mine. I was on the hunt for Tama Kieves' most recent book, Thriving Through Uncertainty, which I had already started reading, somewhat secretly, on my e-reader. Even though I was half-way through the book and feeling very strongly that it had the potential to help me change my whole entire life, I was still a little ashamed to need to buy it. And then, when the bookseller led me to the section, I was super gratified to see that they had renamed it "personal growth" instead. Because I will cop to being in the process growing, but I don't think I need help. Total Type A personality response, right? But that's why I feel even more strongly that Thriving Through Uncertainty is the one self-help book that all Type A people need to read.
I first picked up Tama Kieves' book from the library because, well, I was looking for a little guidance. Thriving Through Uncertainty is written for people who feel overwhelmed and fearful at any uncertainty in their lives, and are hoping to look past the anxiety and doubt that is clawing at their throats — all in an effort to discover a way to thrive, even when they don't have a single clue about what's going to happen. Yeah, I'm going to have to check yes on all of the above for myself, and probably you too, my Type A friend.
Some traits that Type A personalities are known for include being goal-oriented, competitive, highly organized and ambitious. And, while all of those things can be great in moderation, Type A people tend to be more prone to impatience and stress, especially when things don't go quite according to the plan they've made — i.e. when something is uncertain. This can relate to anything: career upheaval, health concerns, unhealthy relationships... put simply, life. And now I'm going to tell you something that I know from personal experience: you might need a little bit of help getting over this hump, to find out what your life can be without the limiting rigidity you've become so accustomed to. And reading Thriving Through Uncertainty is a start.
Kieves dives into all the different ways that our Type A responses to uncertainty can negatively affect our lives: anxiety, sadness, fear, paralyzing doubt, you know — all the biggies. For me, this book is helping me understand that I can change my life by changing my response to it. That I can get out of my comfort zone and find the best version of me on the other side. For you, it might be about learning to let go of the self-doubt that is holding you back in your career. Or finding a way to live more fully in the present moment. Or just opening yourself up to more possibilities. Whatever battle against uncertainty you're fighting right now, there's a gem of wisdom somewhere here for you.
Kieves doesn't downplay your Type A strengths. She doesn't tell you to dedicate your days to meditation retreats or to become less ambitious in favor of a quieter life — no, Kieves understands what you want. Career success, exciting personal projects, adventurous travel, fulfilling relationships... she wants you to live that big, beautiful, broad life you've been working so hard toward. She just wants you to do it better. To put aside the nagging discomforts you feel when you finally realize that you can't control everything, no matter how hard you try. And she asks you to look at the choices that will actually get you there.
"You have a spiritual mountain lion within you that can rip through every limitation and change the way you walk in the world — and the world you walk in," Kieves writes. "You always have another chance to dedicate yourself to your magnitude. You always have another chance to dare again, reach higher, go further, and express more of your eternal True Self. Respect your precious time here. Please don't play small with your moments, yourself, or your life."
So get to that bookstore, my fellow Type A, you fierce mountain lion, you. It's time we all stop letting who we think we are affect who we could be. Let's get a little unorganized, take some risks, get out of our hyper vigilant comfort zones. And let's start by asking the bookseller for the damn self-help section — with zero hesitation at starting down the path to greatness.