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Aspire - Book Review

“Aspire (Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words)” by Kevin Hall is a bit of a different type of self-help book. Hall delves into eleven powerful words, one per chapter in this 238-page book. He uses the words as a framework for presenting concepts for self-improvement. A book on words might seem like a boring vocabulary text, but this book goes way beyond vocabulary.

Hall makes liberal use of many compelling, motivating stories to illustrate the power of these words and then suggests action steps you can take to use these simple but amazing words to improve your life. At the end of each chapter is a section of the author’s journal notes about the words, and an exercise where he encourages the reader to identify a person who exemplifies the word, and to reach out to them and share the word with them.

The motivational stories in this book are excellent and inspirational, and most of them were new to me. Hall introduces us to some wonderful people who share their stories and pieces of their lives. The book is worth reading for those stories alone.

In some chapters, Hall talks with etymologist Dr. Arthur Watkins about the words, who explains the roots and meanings of some of these words (and others). Dr. Watkins is passionate about words and spent his life living and teaching words. Learning the “background” of words helps us better understand what they mean. For instance, Dr. Watkins tells us that “recognize” comes from “re” which means again, and from “cognize” or “cognizant” which means to know. So recognize means “to know again.”

The eleven words explored in this book are:

Genshai (which Hall calls “the secret word”)
Pathfinder
Namaste’
Passion
Sapere Vedere
Humility
Inspire
Empathy
Coach
Ollin
Integrity

While all these words are powerful, three of my favorites were new words for me: genshai, sapere vedere and ollin. Genshai (pronounced GEN-shy)is an ancient Hindi word which means “you should never treat another person in a way that makes them feel small”. Sapere vedere (pronounced sah-PARE-ay veh-DARE-ay) is a phrase that combines two Latin words, “sapere“, (knowing how) and “vedere”, (to see). Sapere vedere means “knowing how to see”. Ollin is an ancient Aztec word which essentially means “to move and act now with all your heart.”

I read this book all the way through when I first got it. It is very easy and interesting to read. Now, I am re-reading it again, more slowly, so I can better digest the words and ideas, and make practical use of them in my life. I highly recommend this as a self-help book for anyone, but it is also a great book for business owners or managers.

Amazon provided a review copy of this book.


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