Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

It's been over ten years since Spencer Johnson's bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese? was published. At the time, it swept the business and government worlds. I know I went to presentations while working for one city government and one county government, where that book was the featured topic, since we all seemed to be dealing with change. Now, Johnson's latest book, Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You-At Work And In Life, is timed perfectly, hitting when people are coping with terrible times at work and home.

Once again, Johnson uses a parable to get his point across. The narrator is a woman, telling the story to a man facing problems at work and home. She relates the story of a young man who lives in a valley, where it's comfortable, and everything is the same day after day. Most people are content to remain in the valley, but the young man is restless, and wants to see the view from the nearby peak. After a difficult climb, he finds a wise man at the top, who guides him through lessons about life, and encourages him to find his own path. However, it's not easy to spend more time at the peak, when life in the valley, or on a plateau, can be lazy and easy.

Johnson's latest book will probably be a bestseller, with the pithy messages that will be seen as answers to problems within the workplace. One message is, "The path out of the valley appears when you choose to see things differently." It's definitely a timely book with a hook. However, it probably will not make it as big as Who Moved My Cheese? That book came out in a time of high employment, when workers were only facing change in the workplace. This book, with a message that you need to learn how to look at the good and the bad, may not be quite as well received when people are losing their jobs and their homes. Or, if they themselves are not out of work, they are the employees left behind as others leave or retire. It will be interesting to see if Peaks and Valleys takes off.

The website for this book is

Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You--At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson. Atria Books, ©2009. ISBN 9781439103258 (hardcover), 112p.


Anonymous said...

"The path out of the valley appears when you choose to see things differently." It sounds kind of Buddhist to me. I say in a good way, not critically.

Kelly said...

I think I was the only person in the US who thought the first was dumb. My husband gave it to me to read after he did, he loved it, and I was....meh....seemed silly to me. I passed on Peaks and Valleys because of my impression of the first one.

I think I just don't go abstract enough for a parable to hit home, just sort of felt like I was reading a kids book. Maybe because at the time, I was running a daycare and reading LOTS of kids books!

Lesa said...

I think you're right, Joe. It is very philosophical, and it could be kind of Buddhist. I wouldn't know.

Lesa said...

Oh, I don't think you were, Kelly. I can't tell you how many times employees were forced to watch the movie by bosses who thought Who Moved My Cheese? was the greatest thing that ever happened to the business world. It wasn't. It was just the current fad in the business world. Then there was FISH. That was at least a little more fun.

That's why I'm interested to see whether Peaks and Valleys will make it this time. I think employees are a little too fed up and angry to accept platitudes. The book does have some good points. But, if you'll notice, my review says I wonder if it's going to do as well as Who Moved My Cheese? The ideas are right for the time. The time might not be right for the book.

Anonymous said...

I have now read this book twice. I am at a very low "valley" in my life in all aspects, perhaps the lowest of my life. There were several phrases and points that were made in the book that really hit home. I really dont think that you have to be down to appreciate what this book is about. If you are in a good place in your life this book may help you realize not to take advantage of these times. I wish I had this book 4 months ago! I really don't think I would be in the place I am in now.
Thank you for your time, D

Lesa said...

D -

I'm so pleased that Peaks and Valleys has been helpful to you. When you're down, it's wonderful to find something that you can grasp onto that will actually help.

And, I think you're right. It's good advice when you're not down as well.

Anonymous said...

I am in a valley right now financially but I am actually grateful. I am discovering my mistakes, what reality is and what is really important. I am learning to appreciate the small things I once took for granted. I will come out of this valley a smarter and better person
I am so glad I found this book. It makes prefect sense.

Lesa said...

Oh, Tina,

Even if it is a time time financially, I'm glad you found the book, and it's a help. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I got this as a gift wow what a let down. A book for Christmas who does that. Its like given a deaf person a cd. Good thing it can be retuRn a book can't help me only God can.

Lesa said...

I'm sorry this book didn't work for you, Anonymous. It was just what an earlier reader needed. But, books don't always strike home with readers. I hope you find the help you're looking for.