Book Review: Have a New You by Friday

Submitted by jroos on Thu, 02/17/2011 - 21:04

With a sensational title, “Have a New You by Friday” by Dr. Kevin Leman seeks to help people change themselves through gaining an understanding about how personality type, birth order, childhood memories and love languages shape the way they think and behave.

In the introduction a tongue-in-cheek claim is made that the book ought to cost $199 because you can get the same results as seeing a shrink who would charge $225. Dr. Leman claims that simply by understanding what makes you tick, you can identify and make changes that will allow you to become who you really want to be.

The first page after the flyleaf is a quiz to help you decide if it’s for you. Included are statements like “Everyone seems to do better than me”, “I don’t feel like what I do is very important” or “My parents were always hard on me”. I suspect that just about anybody who is even slightly unhappy or dissatisfied would be able to agree with at least one of the statements listed.

The chapters are identified by day, rather than number (since we’re going to pull this off by Friday). On Monday Leman goes into personality types and the role they play. These are the well-known DISC personality types. He chooses to represent the types using breeds of dogs: Great Dane (Dominant/Choleric), Yorkie (Influencing/Sanguine), Standard Poodle (Compliant/Melancholic), Irish Setter (Steady/Phlegmatic). The dog breed labels make the discussion more comfortable, memorable and paint a picture as he goes on to discuss the typical example of each type and show the strengths and weaknesses for each.

On Tuesday we launch into Leman’s absolute favorite topic, birth order, which comes up almost any time you read or listen to Leman. He discusses the basic birth orders: first-born, middle-born, last-born and only child. He also goes on to identify variances in the birth order like the result of having children separated by more than a few years or how a first-born of a sex can take on first-born characteristics even if they’re not the first-born in the family. Much like the personality chapter, he paints a picture of the stereo-typical person from each category and then goes on to discuss strengths and weaknesses. We also get a glimpse of some famous people and their birth orders.

On Wednesday we go back to our earliest childhood memories to recognize why we have the rulebook for life that we do. He makes the case that certain strong, early memories set the rules by which we will conduct life later on. He also discusses different parenting styles and how they skew the effect of your personality type and birth order.

Thursday is a brief discussion of Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”. Knowing your love language (and that of your spouse) can be the key to feeling loved and giving love in a way the keeps the relationship strong.

Friday is the day it all comes together. We are offered 5 steps to putting all we have learned into action:

  1. Look back - see where your past actions have gotten you and what you need to change
  2. Take baby steps - begin to make little changes day by day
  3. Improve your self-talk - stop and talk yourself through to the right action, focus on what’s positive in your life
  4. Marshal your imaginative energy - devise strategies to get through the difficult spots ahead of time
  5. Know your destination - have a target or goal to aim for
  6. Give yourself room to fail - don’t give up when you fail, recognize the success you had and begin again

I enjoyed the book and found much of the information informative. It’s interesting to identify and understand some of the reasons I am the way I am. It’s also interesting to analyze the reasons that I don’t fit into the discreet categories that are presented. I’m not surprised by most of the suggestions it’s just easy to forget these ideas when you find yourself in a rut.

While the title is eye-catching, I don’t think it’s realistic that anyone will be completely transformed in just 5 days (on their own). However, the argument could be made that simply learning the information in this book does bring you to new realizations and understanding. That’s quite a difference from having a new you by Friday or as the subtitle says “change your life in 5 days”.

While this book gets the Christian label because the author professes a faith in Christ, it does not openly rely on the Word and draw on Biblical teachings. It also focuses too much on changing one’s self and doesn’t lead people to the real change that the Holy Spirit brings. While some people can pull off changing themselves, I don’t think that everyone has what it takes to change themselves through their own efforts alone. Making such a claim and leaving God out of it will only leave many disappointed.

Bottom line:
Read the book. You’ll learn a few things about yourself, but don’t expect to radically change through your own power and will, certainly not by Friday.


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