Monday, March 24, 2008

Moving Forward: Taking the Lead in Your Life by Dave Pelzer

#28 Moving Forward: Taking the Lead in Your Life by Dave Pelzer
Release Date: 6/24/08
Center Street (a division of Hatchette Book Group)
192 pages
Finished 2/21/08

What led you to pick up this book? I requested a copy from Lori at Jane Wesman Public Relations (thank you, Lori!).

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Pelzer is a motivational speaker and in this book he uses snippets of his own personal history and experiences, plus a few stories about people he has met on the road in order to describe how each of us has (frequently untapped) resources that we can use to take control of our lives.

What did you like most about the book? I liked his definition of "esteem". Basically, Pelzer says that self-esteem is an over-rated concept. If you can get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, you have esteem -- meaning that you obviously believe in yourself enough to be aware, "I can get up out of bed. I can walk to the bathroom." That's just one example, but his point is that we can do anything if we believe in ourselves. He describes the way parents and grandparents of Baby Boomers lived through wars, the Great Depression, and other major hardships. The words "self-esteem" were not a part of their vocabulary or a concept that had been given a name, at the time. They simply did what they had to do and got the job done. Pelzer's bottom line concept is that we need to stop hanging onto our frailties, using them as an excuse, and ignore the naysayers who will gladly tell us we can't or won't succeed. Instead, we need to do what we know is required to live the lives we want to lead.

What did you think of the characters? No characters, unless you count the author. He has a tiny bit of a chip on his shoulder -- probably for good reason -- and if I were to step in as his editor, I would work at helping him eliminate any negative vibes, regardless of where their aim is directed. Positive-thinking books, in my humble opinion, should be very, very focused and hyper-positive. However, I really feel like the author has his heart in the right place, his point was uniquely described and an excellent motivational concept, and that the book served its purpose. I've been mulling the book since I set it down and realize that it's already infected my thinking in a positive way.

Share a favorite scene from the book: I've already mentioned the self-esteem concept; when he first described his opinion of esteem, I liked it so much that I read that section aloud to my husband. Midway through the book there's an entire page that I marked, in which Pelzer describes how one should keep the faith, hold his/her head high, walk with confidence -- how important it is to show that one has belief in his self, abilities and (if applicable -- this was a sticky point, as he had someone complain about his use of the words "God bless") a higher power. That's the point at which I felt like the book really came together. While I do think he has a tendency to sometimes pick on people with power and money, it's important to note that he's been there, himself, and has made mistakes -- trying to appease his wife with gifts and vacations, rather than slowing down and giving her his presence, for example.

Thumbs up - A decent positive-thinking book. The concept is solid and I can visualize myself continuing to use his underlying "esteem" concept in my daily life.

In general:
A book about taking charge of your own life, letting go of the things that drag you down. Occasionally defensive (and the "crap chapter" about letting go of the bad in your life is a wee bit bizarre) but definitely worth reading. I plan to reread my copy, possibly repeatedly.


  1. I think I would really like this book, though I don't think I'll read it because it would just be reinforcing what I already believe/practice. I don't know how far he goes with the esteem thing, but one thing I believe in is that self-esteem comes from respecting who you are. That means you actually have to do things that make you proud of yourself. You don't stumble in to low or high self-esteem, you create it. Just my opinion.

  2. Dave Pelzer is one of those names that comes around in cycles in my office. People discovering his books for the first time . . . I had the chance to hear him speak years ago and thought he was fantastic.

  3. I think the last several decades we've tried to make children feel important (have self-esteem) by handing them meaningless rewards. We need to teach them the rewards of hard work, practice, perseverance, etc. and the esteem will come.

  4. I agree with Booklogged that somehow "self-esteem" has been dis-associated from those things that should be most important. Hard work, practice, and perseverance are not what most people associate with the buzz word of "self-esteem" today.

    Since you feel strongly enough about this book to indicate that you would read it again and again (despite the flaws you mention), I'm putting it on my list.

  5. Trish,

    I think your opinion is a tad different than Dave's, but he'd agree with you. He says we all have the ability to believe in ourselves and some of us just have to learn to set aside the things we allow to weigh ourselves down and dig up the belief. It's there if we want it. Sort of the same thing as creating your own esteem, right? :)


    Mark me in the "just discovered Pelzer" category. Very cool that you got to hear him speak! He sounds like a very interesting man.


    I agree with you completely. I'm particularly annoyed with the practice of handing out candy in school as a reward. The reward should be in the job well done, in my opinion. But, I grew up having the words "work ethic" pounded into my head and in school the reward for finishing an assignment early and well was to play games that continued to reinforce the learning. Things have changed dramatically.


    Yep, I agree with Booklogged, also. As to the rereading . . . I have a small portion of a shelf that I've dedicated to positive thinking books I feel are worth the reread. I don't think this particular book is the best, but I do think he has a basic theme that resonated nicely. When I closed the book, I knew exactly what I'd gotten out of it and realized I was already applying it. That alone tells me it will be worth rereading, in the future.


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