Book Review
Title: "The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive"
Author: Brendon Burchard
Publisher: Free Press, 2012: 272 pages; $20.80

We’ve all fallen into ruts. And after the recession, many have found their ennui and generalized dissatisfaction to be worse than normal. Maybe you worked and worked to get a job, then you get one, and still … blech.

Maybe you fought and fought to keep your home, and you got that elusive loan mod, only to find yourself feeling much less than victorious; or you didn’t get it, and have been dealing with feelings of failure.

Or perhaps you had personal dreams around relationships, children, whatever — and whether or not you realized them, you just lack the excitement about life you thought you would have at this stage of the game.

Enter Brendon Burchard, a writer and achievement coach, and his new book, "The Charge: Activating the 10 Drives That Make You Feel Alive." Burchard’s premise is that the root cause of this widespread dissatisfaction is that our brains and human needs have evolved at light speed, so that in 2012 we all have a much more intense need for self-actualization and fulfillment, relative to basics like food and such, than previous generations did.

Proposing that any universal ideal of what life should look out is already uber-obsolete, Burchard sketches out what the new ideal should be and deems it "The Charged Life," a life that is engaged and energized, versus a life that is comfortable, but stale, or one that follows social normals but feels limited.

After exploring these various, more or less conscious ways of living, Burchard presents a set of characteristics, including self-reliance, creativity and connection, that position certain people — so-called "chargers" — to live a "charged life."

The rest of "The Charge" is devoted to exploring Burchard’s own take on respectfully revising Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, offering readers his list of "10 Human Drives" that reflect what most of us really want to activate in our lives. Here are a few:

1. The Drive for Control. Burchard posits that the first five of his 10 drives are akin to next-gen food and shelter; they are the "baseline drives" that allow us to feel secure and connected enough to move toward real fulfillment, which are the second set of drives, his "forward drives." He defines the drive for control as "the desire to regulate and influence our overall life experience."

Burchard goes on to help readers learn to distinguish between the things they can and cannot control, and to provide super-specific action steps for activating the sense of control in our lives with respect to things we can both control and that flick neuropsychological happiness switches: novelty, challenge and workflow.

2. The Drive for Connection. The clashing of simultaneous human drives for interdependence (via interpersonal relationships, close and casual) AND independence is the root of all human conflict and much human upset, according to Burchard.

Counting the ability to share your "charge" with others in relationships as a critical element of a "charged life," Burchard walks readers through the process of optimizing those relationships to minimize disconnects and dissension, through intentionally defining and designing what ideal relationships would look like, practicing what he calls "positive projection" and cultivating "growth friends," or people with whom you can grow and energize your life.

3. The Drive for Challenge. Challenge is one of Burchard’s future-facing, fulfillment-creating "forward drives," and it’s the one he calls out as being "the most powerful drive for advancing our lives."

Challenge also dominates the drives because it unifies them, according to Burchard, "in that it introduces a change in our lives that we must now control, build new competence around, and, often, socially manage (activating caring and connection)."

Burchard provides three actionable steps — and a number of mindset shifts — for activating our excitement and engagement in the realm of challenge, including choosing the right challenge, focusing on the right things and avoiding a focus on the wrong things that come up during your challenge quest, and breaking off bite-sized, 30-day, personal, social or giving challenges every single month.

This book is a great engine-revver for those who feel like they are in a rut, or for those who feel like their calling is out there and they are struggling to find the structure or juice to take off in hot pursuit. I strongly recommend this book.

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