I presently work at Northwestern University, in the Career Management Center of Kellogg School of Management. As such, I have access to neat personal and professional development opportunities. Kellogg yearly holds a day-long conference called “Kellogg on Growth,” and staff are able to attend this thoughtful and exciting day of learning, reflection, and intellectual discourse.
Mallika Chopra was the keynote speaker at Kellogg on Growth this year, so my interest was thus piqued in her book. I have obviously heard of her papa, Deepak, but haven’t really read any of his work. I have been trying to find ways to introduce more meaningful and intentional practices into my life (vs mindless Facebook scrolling and drifting through existence) and this seemed like a good place to start. Plus, we were wanting to kick start a work book club, and because of the Kellogg connection this was an apt selection.
Though this book made for excellent book club conversation it isn’t one I would recommend for a power read. (The irony is not lost on me that I was trying to skim read a book on living with intent). I originally checked this book out from the library, but realized that I wished I owned it. It’s the sort of thing that I would like to mark up and refer back to. So, I snagged a copy from a used bookstore to add to my library, and keep track of some of the exercises and tips she provides.
Overall, I found this to be a good book. She does what she sets out to do which is share her “somewhat messy journey to purpose, peace, and joy” in a way that is vulnerable and mostly relatable. I say “mostly” because I feel like she could/should have done a much better job labeling and recognizing the extraordinary privilege present in her life. That’s where she went a little “Goopy,” aka, Gwyneth Paltrow, for my tastes. I am super pumped you were able to, on a whim, attend a week-long exercise retreat but she has financial and familial resources that most people can’t even fathom, let along take advantage of. It would have been better for her to say clearly and emphatically, “And yes, I know there is literally no way you, a normal, could do this” rather than how she glossed over it.
Also, she has a weird fixation/dislike of the concept of Soccer Mom’s, so much so, I think she veers into almost shaming territory. “I see more clearly why I’ve struggled to come to terms with my soccer mom status. It’s partly cultural pressure to pull my own weight as a modern woman. It’s partly intellectual need: I want to use my mind and make good on my education.” I mean, okaaaay. But soccer mom’s don’t just go to soccer 24/7/365. Soccer mom is merely one label that women may place upon themselves. And I’m pretty sure that being one doesn’t mutually exclude oneself from the “weight of a modern woman” or “using my mind.” I just want her to calm down a little, but it’s clear that she is trying to living up to something that she can’t quite reach. In that, she is relatable, but also a little awkwardly not self aware.
All this criticism aside, I really did find great value in her message and her book and I know it is one I will go back to. Intent, as she defines defines it (Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture, and Take Action) seems like a doable and measurable goal, and the exercises in the book have already given value to my life.