Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Book Reviews

Book Review: The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck To Success 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes "One of the challenges in reading The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success is figuring how to classify it. Amazon has it ranked mainly in applied psychology, but also time management and inexplicable personal finance. In some ways it is all of the above and more. In fewer than 300 pages, the authors reference myriad different areas of science, mathematics, psychology and more; in the effort to show the reader how they can elevate themselves from the stuff in life that glues them to the status quo." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success
author Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson
pages 320
publisher Dutton
rating 8/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0525952800
summary Book shows how to learn to identify plateaus and break through any stagnancy in your life.
Full disclosure: I am friends with Hugh Thompson, one of the authors of this book.

With that, the premise of the book is that the plateau effect is something that affects everyone. We all have our ups and down in life, relationships, work and more. The book attempts to help the reader identify plateaus in their life, in order to break through them.

While a plateau is often simply flat terrain, the authors are all over the terrain in the book. They quote and reference liberally from science, statistics, life sciences, psychology, ethics, information technology and much more. From that end, the book is a fascinating and insightful read.

At the start of the book, the authors use the term acclimation to refer to the plateaus that many of us reach. This is the inability to notice changes in the environment around us. To a degree, acclimation is a critical element of our lives. If everything was brand new, life would be overwhelming; both to our senses and psyche. The downside is that this acclimation often leads us to accepting things the way they are, staying at the plateau, getting stuck and the inability to move forward.

The authors note that a real plateau means that you have stopped growing and that your mind and senses are being dulled by sameness; by a routine that sucks the life and soul out of you. Plateaus force you to make bad decisions and feel desperate. By understanding the force and tapping into it, you can get more out of life with less effort, and feel more in tune to your existence. If this scares you that the book sounds like a new-age title, relax, it is far from it, thankfully.

Chapter 3 is one of the many fascinating sections in the book where the authors detail the greedy algorithm, where the locally optimal choice is what is generally preferred. They tie this into the Gekko mantra of greed being good. But note that research has shown that long-term greed is good, but short-term greed, the type that maximizes the here and now seems to work for a while but almost always leads to a plateau. And as you realize, plateaus are bad.

Chapter 5 details flow mechanisms, step functions and choke points. Author Hugh Thompson is a mathematician and it's obvious this chapter is his baby. A choke point is a part of a system that breaks first and slows everything else down. The book notes that a common cause of plateaus is not recognizing when and where choke points will occur.

Chapter 6 is another fascinating chapter that details people's inability to effectively deal with risk. The example given is around shark attacks. While the risk of shark attack is extraordinarily low, the media often makes it seem like an epidemic, and the gullible populace overreacts. The authors give many examples of where people don't comprehend risk and statistics. The authors note that people buy lottery tickets, often described as a tax on the mathematically disinclined, despite knowing the odds. They also write that due to various factors, people and society have become overly risk-averse, not realizing how risky that is.

While not new, chapter 7 details the problems with multitasking and its illusions of productivity. The authors quote Jordon Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke who states that multitasking is actually a misnomer. He terms it rapid toggling between tasks. The downside to this rapid toggling is that people become less effective and productive. The reality they show is that people can't multitask.

While the book is indeed a fascinating and valuable read, some readers may find it somewhat frustrating that the authors at times can seem like they are all over the place, quoting and integrating different facets of science and psychology. While the theme of the book is plateaus, there is not always a discernible sense of unity between all of the examples.

Another lacking is the shortage of prescriptive actions the reader can take. For the reader who may be indifferent to their need for change, the book may not be of full value to then. It would have been appreciated if the authors could have created action items and exercises for each chapter.

But perhaps the best advice is on the 3rd to the last page of the book. The authors note that if your company is stuck and has plateaued, and unable to get past some vexing problems. What should you do? Tell the type A's in the room to be quiet for a while and set out some frontline introvert an ask for their advice. Giving voice to the quietest person in the room might be the most unique exercise a firm undertakes.

With that, The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success is an extremely stimulating read. For the reader who wants to grow and move off their plateau, this will certainly help them. The book promises to help the reader unstick themselves from the things in life that weigh them down. It certainly lives up to its promise and makes for a fascinating read.

About the reviewer: Ben Rothke.

You can purchase The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Book Review: The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck To Success

Comments Filter:
  • Seems familiar (Score:3, Informative)

    by jaygatsby27 (894445) on Monday May 13, 2013 @01:54PM (#43712981) Homepage
    This reads just like the blog post you wrote about this book.
    • by khasim (1285)

      The part that annoys me is:

      The example given is around shark attacks. While the risk of shark attack is extraordinarily low, the media often makes it seem like an epidemic, and the gullible populace overreacts. The authors give many examples of where people don't comprehend risk and statistics. The authors note that people buy lottery tickets, often described as a tax on the mathematically disinclined, despite knowing the odds.

      So if you misjudge a shark attack, you keep all your limbs and you have one fun d

      • by inputdev (1252080)
        While we're sharing, the part that annoys me is:

        At the start of the book, the authors use the term acclimation to refer to the plateaus that many of us reach. This is the inability to notice changes in the environment around us.

        No it isn't... acclimation is when something settles in to new surroundings, it has nothing to do with ability to notice changes.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        They are not at all similar

        They are similar in that both are cases of misunderstood statistics. The chapter is about statistics, so that is the only similarity that is required.

        Humorously, you are committing the very fallacy that the author is trying to point out. You jumped right to the consequences, and skipped the statistical likelihood of them happening.

      • I think you may have missed the point (and, I don't think his point was clearly made). The thing about "all those shark attacks" that took place 5-10 years ago one Summer? Not statistically significant, in terms of the annual average. There really weren't *more* shark attacks that year, just more got reported. People don't realize that, then they freak out, stay at home, and die from carbon monoxide poisoning or raining frogs.

  • Stephen Colbert is the only psychologist I need to tell me that I can get off my lazy ass and achieve greatness!

  • Shorter answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:22PM (#43713235)

    "...in the effort to show the reader how they can elevate themselves from the stuff in life that glues them to the status quo."

    I can do this in a lot fewer words than a book: If you live in the United States and aren't already rich -- Move. That's it. One word. Move.

    Everyone will tell you success isn't a guarantee. But you can put yourself in a better position to take advantage of any opportunities that do come along -- thus improving your chances. Right now, there are no opportunities in our country. College is too expensive, the job market is shit, the wealth gap is growing by leaps and bounds, our government turns a blind eye to major cities getting eaten by mother nature -- Detroit, New Orleans... every year there's a major natural disaster. And every year we get to read about our total abject failure in dealing with it. Our bridges are structurally deficient, our health care is shit.

    Guys; The writing is on the wall... run. Move. Leave. Don't keep inhaling self-help books that ration out hope. If you want to be successful in life... get out now. Because otherwise, your life is going to be thrown away supporting the previous generation's bad choices.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:28PM (#43713273)

      I can do this in a lot fewer words than a book: If you live in the United States and aren't already rich -- Move. That's it. One word. Move.

      Bought my ticket to Somalia today! Success and wealth, here I come!!

      • Bought my ticket to Somalia today! Success and wealth, here I come!!

        On one hand, I want to tell you that there was the implicit understanding that you think about where you want to move to, and not just close your eyes, thumb a spot on the map, and buy a ticket to that place. On the other hand, I hesitate to get between a man and his Darwin Award...

        • by Agent0013 (828350)

          Bought my ticket to Somalia today! Success and wealth, here I come!!

          On one hand, I want to tell you that there was the implicit understanding that you think about where you want to move to, and not just close your eyes, thumb a spot on the map, and buy a ticket to that place. On the other hand, I hesitate to get between a man and his Darwin Award...

          I don't know. If his goal is to become a sea faring pirate, then that would be a good place to go. I can't comment on the likeliness of Success and wealth by going that route though.

    • by PPH (736903)

      And every year, the looters need more rich folks to milk. So please, stay put. Live fat, dumb and happy until we come after you to fund our habit.

    • Re:Shorter answer (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:52PM (#43713519)

      Right now, there are no opportunities in our country.

      So you're expecting that someone is just going to hand you an opportunity?

      College is too expensive,

      Doesn't that mean there's an opportunity to make college affordable?

      the job market is shit,

      You expect to elevate yourself with a 9 to 5 job? Isn't there an opportunity to find people jobs?

      the wealth gap is growing by leaps and bounds,

      How does how much others make affect your success?

      our government turns a blind eye to major cities getting eaten by mother nature -- Detroit, New Orleans...

      Bullshit.

      every year there's a major natural disaster.

      You don't suppose there's someway to elevate yourself by finding a way to help people respond to natural disasters?

      And every year we get to read about our total abject failure in dealing with it.

      And will continue to read about that until someone comes up with a way to fix it.

      Our bridges are structurally deficient, our health care is shit.

      You don't suppose there's someway to elevate yourself by fixing bridges? By improving health care?

      Move. That's it. One word. Move.

      Yes, please do.

      • Re:Shorter answer (Score:4, Interesting)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday May 13, 2013 @03:19PM (#43713769)

        So you're expecting that someone is just going to hand you an opportunity?

        I'm suggesting that if you're armed with a stick, going up against an aircraft carrier will probably end badly for you. Likewise, the difference in wealth between the rich 1% and the poor 99% in this country.

        Doesn't that mean there's an opportunity to make college affordable?

        Yeah, if you own the college. Perhaps less so if you're a poor student just starting out in life and have to pick out a college and discover... there aren't any in your price range.

        You expect to elevate yourself with a 9 to 5 job? Isn't there an opportunity to find people jobs?

        We work the longest work days and have the fewest vacation days of any industrialized country on the planet. I'm not saying working a 9 to 5 job is the fastest way, but if I'm going to work a 9 to 5 job... it'll be better rewarded anywhere I move to but here.

        How does how much others make affect your success?

        It's called the production possibilities curve. You probably learned about it in Macroeconomics, before they started catering to the very rich, but self-involved, slashdot pundit. It goes something like this: There's a finite amount of pie available. If others take more of the pie, that means there's less for you.

        Bullshit.

        So... a shallow response to every one of my other points, and then a handwave on this one. You couldn't find anything to support your position -- could you? Large tracts of New Orleans taken over by aggressive wildlife, all curiously located in the traditionally "poor" parts of the city. Detroit, rotting from the inside out to the point they're demolishing entire blocks at a time and have called in emergency managers to stabilize the city's finances amid a mass exodus of the populace. To all this, you reply "Bullshit"? You could have just said "You win," it would have been both correct, and more dignified.

        You don't suppose there's someway to elevate yourself by finding a way to help people respond to natural disasters?

        You were asleep in statistics class, weren't you? If there's a 99% probability of failure, and a 1% chance of success, you don't charge forward on the notion that there's "some way to elevate yourself". And besides, you're ignoring the point: Which is that it shouldn't be your job, as a private citizen, to do that. It's the government's job. That's how it is in the other industrialized countries that haven't had their government taken over by a rich, self-absorbed elite class. When bad shit happens, everybody pitches in a few sheckles and the bad shit goes away. That's how civilization does it... not this degenerate version of it where we throw people to the wolves while screaming "Elevate yourself, mother fucker!"

        And will continue to read about that until someone comes up with a way to fix it.

        (reads previous comment) Yeah. Though we're probably thinking about fixing it in different ways: You're thinking if we just throw enough poor people under the bus, it'll "elevate itself". I'm thinking, why not put everyone IN the bus and then figure out how to move it?

        Yes, please do.

        Maybe you haven't noticed... but the only people moving to this country are from the 3rd world. Nobody in the industrialized world wants to come here. That tells me we're worse than any of the industrialized countries everyone is fleeing to, but better than the third world these people are coming from.

        So, rest assured... you'll still continue to have plenty of people to leech off of to continue your self-indulgent lifestyle. But America as we knew it is dead, plain and simple. And anyone who's still hoping for class mobility is going to start by mobilizing themselves away from exploitative assholes like you, that destroyed it.

        • Re:Shorter answer (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lgw (121541) on Monday May 13, 2013 @05:41PM (#43715077) Journal

          A sure sign that your life will never improve is spending all your time saying "the system is rigged! the man is keeping me down! it's not my fault I'm not successful! I can't do anything!". If you want to make your life better, that's on you: it won't be handed to you. You can make your life better, but only if you're willing to change. You have to change you, not the world. Moving to where the jobs are in your field is often a great start - and for most fields, America has such places.

          I grew up in a trailer park in the Appalachians, couldn't afford to finish college, did very stupid things with money even when I did have a job; then I got my shit together, started doing smart things with money, and now I'm quite successful, thanks. And at no point did this require initiation into the "secret club of people allowed to be successful", just being smart with my career choices and my money. But keep telling me it's impossible to do what I did over the past 15 years - you're only fooling yourself.

          Every success I've had to get here has required more than one attempt - you have to work past failure and rejection. Moving my career forward required changing who I am again and again - if you ever stop growing as a person, you'll get stuck for sure. It also required following my career across the country - success didn't come to me, I went to it, geographically speaking.

          We are wonderfully well off in America in the 21st century. We're surrounded by amazing technology, most of which is quite cheap. If you're upset because you're in your 20s and can't have the stuff that people in their 40s have - well, of course not, but after working for 20 years you'll have more too! At least, if you invest instead of going farther into debt, you will.

          • Re:Shorter answer (Score:4, Informative)

            by skids (119237) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:17PM (#43715301) Homepage

            If you want to make your life better, that's on you: it won't be handed to you.

            Absolutely on target. The very first step to doing this, of course, is realizing theat "the system is rigged and the man is keeping you down", and the second is figuring out how to do something about that.

            OR, you could buy into the idea that if you just stick your neck out far enough, some Donald Trump's next pyramid scheme won't milk you from what little cash or manpower you have at your disposal and instead will make you magnificently wealthy. But I would not recommend that.

            • by lgw (121541)

              Working at jobs where you actually make stuff that other people want or need, and investing in companies that do likewise is the key. Holding a professional job is not a scam - and believing that it is, that regular full time employment is some trick invented by the man to keep you down, is a sure recipe for poverty.

          • Re:Shorter answer (Score:4, Interesting)

            by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:21PM (#43715345)

            A sure sign that your life will never improve is spending all your time saying "the system is rigged! the man is keeping me down! it's not my fault I'm not successful! I can't do anything!". If you want to make your life better, that's on you: it won't be handed to you. You can make your life better, but only if you're willing to change. You have to change you, not the world. Moving to where the jobs are in your field is often a great start - and for most fields, America has such places.

            So I see you've read the book The Secret, wherein it says that all you need to be successful is a positive attitude to the point of self-delusion on a scale that doctors usually order medication for. Sir, let me clue you in on reality -- thousands of newspaper articles, research papers, and bits on the evening news have pointed out that our generation will be the first generation of Americans ever to have less than our parents. This is established economic fact. The economy isn't expected to recover to its pre-2003 levels until sometime after 2021, making this the longest depression this country has ever seen. And make no mistake, it's a depression. Ask anyone under the age of 25 how their job hunt is going. You don't need to ask them whether they have a job, because odds are better than not, they don't. Ask them about their piles of student loan debt.

            I've dealt with your kind before, the kind who likes to blame the victim, who likes to yell "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" as if that absolves them of any responsibility to help others, who thinks that if they've managed to get a smidgeon better quality of life it's because of their own hard work and couldn't possibly be because they won a statistical lottery. But when you dig into it, success isn't about attitude; it's also about being in the right place, at the right time. And there's only so many of those chances, in the same way there's only so many good hands being held at the cosmic poker table. And sometimes, you get dealt a shitty hand. Doesn't matter how good you are at poker, or your attitude, the cards... are the cards.

            And deluded people like you can't, or won't, recognize that because it's a blow to their ego. It has nothing to do with what is manifest reality. It has nothing to do with the facts. And I say your kind is deluded because how the hell else can you justify believing that hundreds of millions of americans are lazy over the idea that only a few thousand of them are greedy.

            • by jafac (1449)

              exactly.

              I'm upset that I'm in my 40's and can't have what my parents had - (including a secure retirement) - despite their lack of college education. Yes, this IS a fucking depression, and despite a localized, brief illusion of recovery, things are, long-term, on the down trend. We will likely have a pretty nice spring and summer (jobs and energy-price wise) - but the drought is continuing, and harvest will be bad, food prices will continue to climb (globally), and the EU financial situation is continuing

            • by lgw (121541)

              Ask anyone under the age of 25 how their job hunt is going.

              I worked blue collar jobs for about 5 years before getting my first programming job, and that paid $18k. You imagine having to try hard to get that first sucky job is new?

              I've dealt with your kind before, the kind who likes to blame the victim, who likes to yell "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" as if that absolves them of any responsibility to help others, who thinks that if they've managed to get a smidgeon better quality of life it's because of their own hard work and couldn't possibly be because they won a statistical lottery. But when you dig into it, success isn't about attitude; it's also about being in the right place, at the right time. And there's only so many of those chances, in the same way there's only so many good hands being held at the cosmic poker table. And sometimes, you get dealt a shitty hand. Doesn't matter how good you are at poker, or your attitude, the cards... are the cards.

              Perhaps you're not actually reading (in which case I'm not sure this will help) but what I'm yelling is: "I did it, so can you". There is no secret to success, but there are principles, and damned if my parents taught me anything about money (to be fair, they didn't know themselves).

              Economies go in cycles. Always have. Don't let it get

              • I worked blue collar jobs for about 5 years before getting my first programming job, and that paid $18k. You imagine having to try hard to get that first sucky job is new?

                Yeah, well, since my point was they aren't finding jobs period, your comments that you were able to find jobs at that age sorta backs up my point, which probably wasn't what you were going for... but it's illustrative nonetheless.

                Perhaps you're not actually reading (in which case I'm not sure this will help) but what I'm yelling is: "I did it, so can you". There is no secret to success, but there are principles, and damned if my parents taught me anything about money (to be fair, they didn't know themselves).

                Did your parents' GDP vs. Household Income [wikipedia.org] have an inverse relationship? Did yours? You can yell it all you want, but the numbers, unlike "principles" don't lie.

                Economies go in cycles. Always have. Don't let it get you down - this is only as bad as the 70s, and not anything like the 30s.

                Umm, I'm afraid history [wikipedia.org] strongly disagrees. The longest period of economic downturn was 5.5 years. People have been talki

                • by tehcyder (746570)

                  Sir, I spent my childhood being shot at and living in the woods, under a pile of 2x4s and a tarp, and my toilet was a hole in the ground. So don't talk to me about your "trailer park" growing up.

                  We used to dream of having a tarp...

                  Sorry.

                • by lgw (121541)

                  You've done such a great job convincing yourself you can never succeed. Congratulations?

                  • No, she is being realistic. You can achieve success alone, but is far, far harder to succeed than they force you to believe... And, personally, I prefer a hard truth than a sweet illusion.
              • by tehcyder (746570)

                what I'm yelling is: "I did it, so can you".

                Repeating something more and more loudly doesn't make it true.

                If the economy is up the spout and there are lots of unemployed people around, you cannot necessarily get a job at all, never mind one that is the start of an actual career.

                Yes, some people will succeed - of course they will by definition unless there's 100% unemployment. That doesn't mean they're any more intelligent, hard working or anything else apart from lucky.

                The whole fucking point of capitalism is that the worse the economy, the hi

              • Perhaps you're not actually reading (in which case I'm not sure this will help) but what I'm yelling is: "I did it, so can you".

                I think that perhaps you are missing the point; let me try to explain via analogy.

                In this particular story, set in a poor world, there is a lottery, that pays out enough to keep the winner in money for life. Everyone enters the lottery, every week. There is only one winner, and one week it is our friend (you) and he is yelling as hard as he can "Hey everybody! I did it, so can you!!!" and he does not understand why everyone thinks that he is retarded for making that argument. He just cannot understand why

                • by lgw (121541)

                  But that's a terrible analogy - aside for having no cars at all in it, most people win this lottery. When you have say, 20% saying "the system is rigged, it's all a scam", 60% working and content, and 20% saying "this sucks, but it's my own fault", it's hard to justify the first group.

                  Look, when I was young the single biggest thing keeping me down was the idea that a regular full-time job was some sort of scam, and it was only once I got over that that my life went anywhere. I see a lot of people who expe

                  • But that's a terrible analogy - aside for having no cars at all in it, most people win this lottery. When you have say, 20% saying "the system is rigged, it's all a scam", 60% working and content, and 20% saying "this sucks, but it's my own fault", it's hard to justify the first group.

                    It's equally hard to justify saying "it's their own damn fault" when such a large number of people are falling into the first and third categories.

                    Look, when I was young the single biggest thing keeping me down was the idea that a regular full-time job was some sort of scam, and it was only once I got over that that my life went anywhere.

                    Well, I thought that way twenty years ago, and I still think that way, and I'm still mostly a success. It's just that now I see more clearly how the powerful and influential wield their power - when I was young I never had such depth of thought. So, I decided that I'd simply try to become one of "them", and that's working out quite well :)

                    I see a lot of people who expected to just walk into a middle-class lifestyle straight out of college, and who are upset there's no "good" job waiting for them.

                    I haven't seen that in the last ten years; my perception matches just about everyone else who replied to you. To whit, there are no jobs, except for a few lucky enough to be connected (where I am unemployment is around the 25% mark, with you unemployment closer to 60%. A full 80% of graduating high-schoolers don't get jobs immediately after finishing school, thus they cannot finance themselves into a college.

                    It doesn't work that way - but that doesn't mean the "good" job doesn't exist, just that college didn't get you there, there are more steps to take first.

                    Look, I come from a poor background (think typical African township, with poultry flapping around when cars backfire and children running barefoot in dirt roads). When I left high-school I was lucky enough to get a job in a textile factory (working 7 nights a week, from 19h00 to 07h00) for around $20 USD a week. The only way to survive was to continue living with my parents. I used the income from that job to embark on a correspondence study course, and after the first year of computer science and maths was lucky enough to be hired at the local university. From there on in I just jumped from job to job every five years or so, upgrading each time.

                    However, I acknowledge that I was lucky to get that first job. Many of my mates from high-school only got jobs years later (some never - they did the best they could growing vegetables and whatnot). Had I not gotten lucky with that first factory job then I wouldn't have been here today typing this and trying to convince you that, no, it's not just your mindset, it's mostly luck when you're young. When there are 200 qualified applicants for 2 positions, then it merely comes down to who gets lucky.

                    • by lgw (121541)

                      Just to point out one thing I found key in my life.

                      When there are 200 qualified applicants for 2 positions, then it merely comes down to who gets lucky.

                      If you never apply for the job in the first place (or cannot), luck doesn't enter into it. E.g., taking that correspondence course meant you were eligible to be lucky for the next hop. If you eventually apply for 100 jobs each of which accepts 1 out of 100 applicants, you only need to be midly lucky.

                      It's just that now I see more clearly how the powerful and influential wield their power - when I was young I never had such depth of thought. So, I decided that I'd simply try to become one of "them", and that's working out quite well :)

                      I'm perhaps less cynical about it - but when I was just out of school, living in the local slums (which as an American, means I still had it better than much

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            If you want to make your life better, that's on you: it won't be handed to you. You can make your life better, but only if you're willing to change. You have to change you, not the world.

            What fucking Christmas cracker did you get that gem from?

            Next you'll be telling us that our children are the future, and that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

          • Oh (insert your favorite deity here)... Yet Another "Self-Made-Man".

            Dude, you also believe in Santa? Easter bunny? You can improve with hard work, yes, but that is only 10% what is necessary. Yes, that's right you read, 10%. I can be the best programmer on this planet, but I NEVER will be a "Bill Gates" if I not in the right place at the right time and having the right friends. And please, stop spreading bullshit that "just work like hell to be rich", it is fiction.
            • by lgw (121541)

              Do you need to be Bill Gates? Or will you settle for being able to retire one day on your own?

              I don't know what "rich" means. Right now it looks like about 20 years between me figuring out how money works, and me retiring at the lifestyle I'm accustomed to (which isn't all that fancy).

              That isn't some fiction, it's just steady work, career advancement, and sacrificing to have a budget to invest. Stuff anyone can do once you land your first real job.

              • Bill Gates is a crude example. If you prefer a more refined example, for you have a good job, a house (not renting) and maybe a family is not enough "just work hard", is a myth. You also must be in the right place at the right time, otherwise you will end up without a job or in a job lower than your skill allows. Hard work helps, but is not the only needed factor.
        • Bingo. I would not have written better.
      • by russotto (537200)

        So you're expecting that someone is just going to hand you an opportunity?

        Thing about opportunities is by definition (and despite the platitudes of self-help writers) you can't create them ex nihilo. They have to arise for you to take advantage of them.

        Doesn't that mean there's an opportunity to make college affordable?

        No.

        You expect to elevate yourself with a 9 to 5 job? Isn't there an opportunity to find people jobs?

        No, recruiters often find themselves unemployed as well. It's not a matter of the jobs be

    • You run an ex-pat travel agency, right?

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I care enough about my fellow citizens to not take the "run to Canada / Europe / Australia" approach.

      The problems you describe are completely solvable. If everyone who wants to and is able to help solve them leaves, then that just accelerates the decline.

      Also, the people who are most likely to think what you describe aren't problems are over 65 years old. They're dying off, and steadily losing their political power. In another decade or so, I suspect that the worst will be over.

      • by skids (119237)

        Pretty much the same reason I'm still here... I've managed to succeed enough to be comfortable, do so without pillaging, and work in an area that has potential to deliver productive change to the country. So I think I'll just keep that up.

    • I have mod points available, for once, and will mod you up. Yes, I know - that will obliterate this very post. So what ? What you said is SO well said.
    • hey

      Love most of your comments, BTW. You have a good mind.

      Having said that, I think this is more about mental break-though; self-awareness, teleological mechanisms.

      • Re:Shorter answer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday May 13, 2013 @06:41PM (#43715483)

        Having said that, I think this is more about mental break-though; self-awareness, teleological mechanisms.

        I won't disagree with you. But I take umbrage with anyone who says that attitude is all you need. No, it's a starting point. Nobody's going to tell the 400 pound asthmatic who dreams of winning a marathon to just show up at the starting line and if he wants it bad enough, he'll get it. And yet, this arrogant line of thinking is found in every aspect of our "individualist" culture. It's a poison when it's overindulged in.

        Attitude is important insofar as keeping your ego intact. It's important in a crisis, when you're being ripped to shreds by a cold an uncaring universe. It's important when you're at the top of your game, and every obstacle is falling to the left, right, and center too. I will not say attitude is unimportant, but it is only the start of a journey. It's like hope: It makes a great breakfast, but a terrible dinner. Attitude is about an orientation, a direction, a focus... but attitude alone will not move you an inch, nor change your circumstances one iota.

        To succeed also requires positioning yourself so that you're likely to be at that wonderful point of convergence where time and place meet to create opportunity. Not everyone can get there; It's not assured. Someone has to win the lottery; But the odds of you winning it are vanishingly small. And this is the part where american culture fails -- its siren song tells us anyone can win the lottery.

        There are people who have a good attitude, work hard, and will never get their reward in this life. Until recently, America didn't have very many of them, because we had a lot of opportunities -- a lot of chances to win the lottery of success. But today, we have a lot of those people. Wealth has become super-concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people, and the lottery pot grows smaller at the same time. There's fewer jobs, fewer opportunities for career advancement, fewer options for affordable education... all the things we used to have to invest in ourselves and which had a good chance of returning that investment, are gone.

        I'm not saying move away because I hate my country. I love it. But I'm not deluded to the point of thinking I can fix all these problems. I will take my american culture elsewhere, and wait out the storm. I shouldn't have to suffer because an entire generation fucked up what the previous ten spent building. Nobody should. We've won every war we've fought in, and America has a lot of things to be proud of... but guys, we lost this fight. The economic fight. And nobody with a sense of practicality is going to suggest you fight on the side that's guaranteed to lose.

        I look at my country now like a drowning man. You can swim out to him and try to help him, but all he'll do is grab onto you and you'll both drown. You cannot save him, he can only save himself. What you CAN do -- is throw him a floater and wait until he's latched on, then pull him to safety. But he has to participate in saving himself.

        This is how I feel about the Boomers. We can't keep throwing money at the problem... or hard work, or anything else we have. We need to stop swimming out to them and letting them drag us down with them. So I say leave. Walk away. And wait.

        Eventually, they're going to decide they don't want to drown, or they'll drown. Either way, they'll have made a choice, and then, and only then, can we as the younger generation, move in to pick up the pieces. But for now... get the hell out of here, kids. Go anywhere but here. Get as far away as you can... and then wait for the sign.

        • Amen.
          I think about Canada like an uncle who is terminally ill and no-longer talking any sense. I loved him very much, but I must move on, I don't want to see him go, but I also don't want to see him like that. I feel many Americans feel the same way about their home.
          The one thing I can say for certain is that I don't want to be there at the moment it flatlines.

        • This is how I feel about the Boomers. We can't keep throwing money at the problem...

          Speaking as an early Boomer, I agree with you. Too many of us have never learned that the world really doesn't owe us a living. As an example, back in the late '60s and early '70s there were an awful lot of angry young sheeple bleating, "Hell no, we won't go!" because they were only interested in what their country could do for them and weren't willing to do anything for their country. Now, they're nearing retirement,
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            As an example, back in the late '60s and early '70s there were an awful lot of angry young sheeple bleating, "Hell no, we won't go!" because they were only interested in what their country could do for them and weren't willing to do anything for their country

            The opposition to the war in Vietnam wasn't just a case of people being scared to fight. It was massively unpopular for very good reasons, including the fact that it was unwinnable without actually flattening Vietnam and killing everyone there, and it served no useful purpose other than cock-waving at the Evil Commies.

            I'm more disappointed at the lack of similar protests by people over the Iraq war. Or perhaps it's just that politicians don't even pretend to listen any more.

            • ...it was unwinnable without actually flattening Vietnam and killing everyone there...

              Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better. I was there, and I know how people like you threw away everything we did because they told it was unwinnable by people who were afraid to serve.
        • thanks for that. Let me ask you then: where would you move to? Or what is your top 5 for places to relocate to?

        • by Agent0013 (828350)

          I won't disagree with you. But I take umbrage with anyone who says that attitude is all you need. No, it's a starting point. Nobody's going to tell the 400 pound asthmatic who dreams of winning a marathon to just show up at the starting line and if he wants it bad enough, he'll get it.

          If he really wanted it bad enough, he would have been training for it. That example is really just silly.

          Attitude is about an orientation, a direction, a focus... but attitude alone will not move you an inch, nor change your circumstances one iota.

          To succeed also requires positioning yourself so that you're likely to be at that wonderful point of convergence where time and place meet to create opportunity.

          This statement is really the core of the attitude theory. If you are ready and watching for the opportunities, you will be more likely to see them when they come along. I remember hearing a story about a person who needed a concrete sidewalk but could not afford it. They did the work of putting in the wood forms and everything was ready for when ever they might be able to afford it (not likely from the s

    • I think you're off topic.

    • by khallow (566160)

      I can do this in a lot fewer words than a book: If you live in the United States and aren't already rich -- Move. That's it. One word. Move.

      Why? Sure, if all you care about is health care or social services, two things that the US tends to be remarkably poor at, then maybe the US isn't for you. But if you're looking for a relatively free country, a country with relatively low taxes, or a country with a lot of opportunity you aren't going to do much better than the US.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        But if you're looking for a relatively free country, a country with relatively low taxes, or a country with a lot of opportunity you aren't going to do much better than the US.

        The main area of freedom where the US leads the world is the freedom to own many guns, which is irrelevant to all but a handful of people in the rest of the civilised world.

        And high taxes never stopped anyone succeeding, it just means they have to pay some of their wealth back into supporting society. There are plenty of entrepreneurs in Scandinavia, or wherever.

        • by khallow (566160)

          The main area of freedom where the US leads the world is the freedom to own many guns, which is irrelevant to all but a handful of people in the rest of the civilised world.

          That freedom leads to other freedoms. For example, the freedom to manufacture things, such as guns.

          And high taxes never stopped anyone succeeding

          Opportunity costs, the costs from paths not taken, are invisible. I believe high taxes have stopped plenty of people from succeeding. And have inhibited those who do manage to succeed anyway. But those could have beens are invisible to us. I can't show you a person who succeeded because the private world retained another ten percent of collective income. There's no repeatable test here.

          And success from milk

  • I bet some folks in Tibet would question the premise that plateaus are essentially bad, that they result in the inability to move forward or grow, that the final inevitable result is that your mind and senses are dulled by sameness and that life and soul are sucked out of you. The book's value could end up not be in theories of up or down but in that it helps you become more mindful of what's already going on around you.
  • Has anybody ever actually read one of these and noticed a difference?

    I'm a self-motivator so I can't speak either way, but just curious as a discussion topic.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I once read a diet book. After a month, I lost 30 days.

  • Self Help (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2.anthonymclin@com> on Monday May 13, 2013 @02:47PM (#43713451) Homepage

    One of the challenges in reading The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success is figuring how to classify it. Amazon has it ranked mainly in applied psychology, but also time management and inexplicable personal finance. In some ways it is all of the above and more.

    The category you are searching for is "Self Help". Just because it involves computers, it doesn't make it something new and different (just like patents).

  • Amazon has it ranked mainly in applied psychology, but also time management and inexplicable personal finance.

    Is there another section for explicable personal finance?

    • You beat me to it. To be fair, the way some people manage their finances is inexplicable to me.
  • There, I said it.

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

Working...