The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You

Harvard Business Review. Nov. 2023. 224p. ISBN 9781647823245. $30. BUS
Performance psychologist Gervais (host of the podcast Finding Mastery; cocreator, Performance Science Inst. at Univ. of Southern California), writing with Kevin Lake (chief creative officer, Finding Mastery), guides readers in unlocking their full potential by dismantling the pervasive fear of people’s opinions (FOPO). Through a blend of real-life anecdotes, research, and practical exercises, Gervais navigates the nuances of FOPO, including its psychological underpinnings and its connection to internal considerations such as self-worth and belonging. Organized around three phases—unmask, assess, and redefine—the book helps readers find a better understanding of themselves and their relationship with external judgments. Each chapter focuses on a topic (the relationship between FOPO and the human need to belong, for example) or a question (why does the human brain naturally tend toward self-criticism?) to work through, including anecdotes from Gervais’s experiences and from his and others’ research. Each chapter concludes with an exercise to try out the book’s suggestions.
VERDICT Though the subject is widely covered in popular titles like Carol Dweck’s Mindset, Brené Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Wasn’t), and Nick Trenton’s Stop Overthinking, Gervais’s ability to intertwine theory with actionable strategies make this a worthy addition to collections. Will appeal to a broad, general readership.
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