Book Of The Week: A Life’s Work

When I first picked up Shep McKenney’s book “A Life‘s Work,“ I thought I would be getting just another self-help book.

What I got is the very personal experiences of a remarkable human being and the lessons they taught him.

From Christianity to Buddhism to science, Shep has studied and learned a great deal from life and has shared it all with us through his book.

Here are a few highlights:

A Little Background 

Shep McKenney grew up in a Christian household and was taught to worship a perfect Jesus. He was also taught that he would be judged on Judgment Day.

Everything seemed remote to his young mind as if he was viewing everything from afar.

Secularly, he was taught to idealize a future of becoming a doctor or lawyer. His father even instilled a fear of falling short.

Even though his upbringing created anxiety and paranoia for Shep, deep down, he knew that he didn’t want to live in fear and that his life had value. 

He went off to college and became a very successful lawyer/businessman, husband, father, and grandfather. But he says that during his first marriage, everything was about appearances. His life had to appear all put together, even though he was anxious and trying to figure out what was wrong with him on the inside.

Listening To The Still Small Voice 

Shep’s exploration beyond Christianity started with philosophy classes in college. He says that he wanted to know more about what his life was about.

Not able to find the answers that he was seeking, his search continued.

While waiting on the results of his bar exam, he began to realize how much he anticipated the worst-case scenario, which was failing. He compares the experience to being in a torture chamber.

Who can relate?

This is one of the first lessons in how Shep learned to overrule his mindless brain. 

Isn’t it funny how our brains are not only great problem solvers but also problem generators?

Shep mentions how his mother saw the beauty in raising four “troublesome“ boys and being married to a demanding husband. She was always present and in the moment, never keeping score or judging

We must remember that life is not about the cards you’re dealt; it’s how you play those cards.

Often, we tend to project so much into the future of what things should look like that our lives become mechanical, and we focus on getting all the technicalities right. This can cause us to miss out on the joy and uncertainty of present experiences.

When we stay in the present moment, we can discover that we are not the mindless brain chatter that we experience every day. Our true self is that still, small voice telling us what is good and right. The true self gives us the type of knowing that doesn’t come from the outside but arises spontaneously within us. 

What we have to remember is that our logical brain will try to shut down our true selves in favor of following “rules.” While rules are not necessarily a bad thing, we have to be able to ask ourselves, “Am I the person I am capable of being right now?“

Final Thoughts 

I’ve never known any other self-help guru to be so open about their personal life as Shep McKenney. 

I believe he intended to introduce a different way of thinking about how to experience value in life. In my opinion, he succeeded.

Changing my mindset to asking the question, “Who do you want to be right now?“ has prompted me to take different actions in my job and personal relationships. I had never experienced different ways of thinking about how to experience value in life before I started asking myself this question.

I hope this post added some value to your life. Let me know if you decide to check out the book; there’s so much more to discuss!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases of books through this site. 

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