Book review: The Future is Greater

The Future is Greater by executive coach Maxine Nwaneri is based on her own struggles to find a clear purpose and hone in on the things that matter.

Office workers

 

The Future is Greater starts dramatically with a description of Maxie Nwaneri’s near-death experience following childbirth.  She recalls feeling herself drifting away as she haemorrhages due to a ruptured placenta. She has a feeling that she needs to ‘look up to the left’. This was where her son was sleeping. Suddenly she realises she can’t leave her two children behind and feels a sense of being brought to life by a sudden bolt of lightning.

That sense has stayed with her and informs the book – the feeling that a strong sense of purpose can help people face life’s challenges. There are several other anecdotes in the book which are similarly dramatic. For Nwaneri the message is that challenges can be overcome if we are very clear about the why of what we are doing, even if that why varies at different times in our lives. 

Nwaneri is also a firm believer that women can have it all – by which she means a family and career –  if they take the time to figure out what ‘all’ means for them as individuals at particular times in their lives. In part it’s about using pockets of time effectively. For instance, to write the book Nwaneri started with short bursts of time and got much more done than she had initially imagined was possible. She advises: “Switch your focus from what you don’t have to whatever it is you do have, however small it is, and being to work with it in an intentional manner.”

Dream killers

So how does it work? Nwaneri [pictured right] suggests beginning with a forensic analysis of how you use your time and how much of it you waste [for instance, on Netflix or social media]. She then hones in on how to find time to do the things you really want to, whether that is by stopping being a people pleaser and knowing when to say no or by creating a true partnership with your partner, if you have one. 

The book deals one by one with a series of ‘dream killers’ which include the ‘I’ll do it when’ mindset, life crises, not feeling good enough and guilt and overwhelm. Another key issue is having the right role models and surrounding yourself with people who support you rather than drain you.

When it comes to the ‘I’ll do it when’ mindset Nwaneri sets out a very practical, no-nonsense way of setting what she calls a ‘5D weekly success schedule process’ to keep people focused on what they want to achieve. That includes deleting things that are not important, delegating what you can and saying no to what is not necessary. It’s then important to break things down on a daily basis to encourage good daily habits.

There is a chapter on dealing with the inevitable crises that life throws up and that can make it difficult to stick to any plans. Again Nwaneri has a practical approach, for instance, she suggests refocusing on past successes to boost your confidence. “While we may not be able to control what is happening during a crisis, we can always control how we respond to it – and how we respond to it really does make all the difference,” she writes.

Formulae

There is a lot of emphasis on control in the book, for instance, when it comes to overcoming unfair situations she says they may make you a victim, “but whether or not you stay a victim indefinitely is your choice, and in your power to control”. This is followed by reference to another formula for getting by – the Triple F Formula [Faith, Forgive and Focus]. It’s all about self-belief, it seems. For mums there is yet another process to deal with mum guilt and overwhelm, the SPIRIT Power Process. It’s very much in keeping with the self-help spirit of the book and there is a big emphasis on practical steps, but it can seem a bit exhausting after a while. 

The book ends with a return to the beginning and Nwaneri’s near death experience, which, alongside other traumatic experiences, has clearly had a huge impact on how she approaches life. And she has overcome many challenges from homelessness to addiction. She talks about the importance of trying to live according to your sense of purpose so you die ‘without regret’. She says: “The life in which you have it all doesn’t happen by chance, you need to take it by force.”  

*The Future is Greater: A Working Mother’s Guide to Finding Balance by Maxine Nwaneri is published by HQ, price £16.99.



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