David Carter is a mentor. Many terms are used to describe people like Carter, including life coach, executive coach, guru, Svengali – but mentor is less grand and more accurate.
His philosophy is refreshingly straightforward, in that he simply wants you to the best you can be. He actually puts it slightly differently stating that he wants you to be the best version of you that you can be.
As children we start out with big dreams. We want to be astronauts, footballers, ballerinas and pop stars. As we get older, most people settle for a life with lower aspirations. We start to work in an office, buy a house and start to raise a family. The budding astronaut ends up as an accounts clerk.
As we get older, we also expect less from life as it has not given us what we had initially dreamed it would. Carter’s philosophy is that if you believe you were destined to be a singer, you should continue to pursue that goal until you achieve it, and don’t give up on yourself or your dreams.
But his advice is tempered with realism. If you find that you like being an accounts clerk, his advice is to become the best accounts clerk that you can be. You may have aspirations to be a Chartered or Certified Accountant. If so, he motivates you to pursue those dreams as well, until ultimately you arrive as the best accountant that you can be. As we all know, you never get to the place where you are satisfied that you are the best that you can be – it is a continual and lifelong journey.
For a mentor, Carter is refreshingly human. He built what he describes as “the world’s foremost business leader mentoring company”, but sold it after fourteen years of struggle claiming that it wasn’t a great success for any of its shareholders. He has been married three times and struggles with the same pressures we all have, raising children, paying the bills etc. For me this strengthens his message. Unlike others in his industry, he does not claim to live a perfect, aspirational life. He is one of us - a battler who has finally overcome some of life’s obstacles, achieving a modicum of success later on in his own life.
In my opinion, his challenge to you to find your own Unique North Star, as he puts it, is the biggest challenge of all. Surely that is the most fundamental question for all of us – what do we want out of life? Once we know that, we can start to try to to reach that goal, but for most people the question remains unanswered throughout their whole lives.
The book offers twenty "breakthroughs", or twenty suggested areas where anyone can improve themselves. He also offers a Breakthrough Retreat Workbook which provides twenty-nine exercises to improve yourself and your life, in areas such as prioritising, daily disciplines and goals.
Yes, there are some new age philosophies in there, which not everyone will like (myself included). But this book contains some good, solid down to earth advice, from a man who has studied this area in depth. He has mentored successful individuals himself, but has also suffered the slings and arrows of misfortune like the rest of us and the book is all the better for that.
I suspect most people read these books when they are going through difficult times personally or professionally. It is a good no-nonsense read offering practical advice rather than an uplifting “feel good” piece of escapism. Anyone who adopts some of these principles will find it worthwhile.
"Breakthrough" by David C.M. Carter
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(price as of Aug 30, 2015)