Hearing the book title, ‘Try Hard’, I thought I had found myself an easy pick – a typical American self-helper. Then when my eyes caught sight of the front cover, more clues were revealed, ‘Tales from the life of a needy overachiever’ suggested it can’t be American!
I didn’t know the author which surprised my Book Club friends – so I took a gamble, jumped into it quickly hoping I could use it for this reading challenge and was quickly reminded – you can’t judge a book by its cover!
This book is refreshingly different: it’s a memoir of someone’s life catastrophes and it’s a raw riot read. I laughed on the inside and giggled on the outside.
Em Rusciano is either a good writer or she’s got great support - or both. I immediately connected with her which is Life Lesson #1 – Connection. I slipped into her world as she talked with me (not at me), connected me with her story, creating a feeling I had a shared history with her as we romped the 'burbs of Melbourne. Yes, I was wrong. It’s an Australian memoir.
As Em suggests, it’s unlike Australians to ‘Try Hard’ in life. Hence the title. We grew up with the Tall Poppy syndrome casting a shadow on entrepreneurship, in particular, god forbid a woman attempting to make a mark. What does ‘try hard’ look like anyhow? Life Lesson #2 – Persistence. Her life (to date) has been unashamedly an example of the highs and lows and the need to keep striving to be who you are (and who you could be).
Try Hard is a collection of Em’s personal stories; some will: shock you, create tears, surprise you and many will make you laugh. These life chapters will mirror the life of many young women, however, I doubt few will elect to share publically the experiences of moving interstate, an unplanned pregnancy, elite athleticism, depression, debt and strong family values. Authenticism appeared on every page. Life Lesson #3 – Be Authentic.
There are many life lessons to learn, with some being of a different nature. I learnt a new vernacular – the language of male and female genitalia! I credit Em for having the courage and gumption to take us to the nether region, challenging social taboos. She also purposely provides lessons to expectant mothers which I hope doesn’t sideline those deciding on being a mum or parent.
My affinity with Em is our connection with the Gay world. We both share the amazing friendship of a gay guy. A history of dancing in gay clubs, being the only female at their parties and in particular, being a ‘handbag’ at corporate functions. It’s a different type of relationship and continues to this day just as Em notes in her acknowledgements.
We are who we were – and this for me sums up the wisdom which Em so freely shares in her memoir. Our past shapes us, sharpens our behaviour and solicits our future. Which brings me to sharing what I plan to act on. I have noted five take outs from Try Hard (the self-helper in disguise):
· Write a ‘final message from Mum’ letter to my kids – if I leave this world earlier than planned – I want to tell them how much I love them and reinforce how uniquely special they are and how I want them to approach their life.
· Think and record more life stories. We all have a past which shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten. I am going to start recording a story a week – there are so many to capture.
· Be courageous and publish my book. I too have many lessons to share.
· Be more authentic – play to my strength of saying what needs to be said – too much time is wasted thinking about what should be said!
· Be more thankful for my life and my relationships - work harder to make sure that life and these relationships get even better.
The ability to get up on the balcony, and view what’s going on down on the dancefloor (or arena) is the metaphor required for any book you read. Don’t be judgemental if you’re unfamiliar with the author or the title doesn’t hold your attention for more than two seconds. Give it a go, open yourself to digest the information and then form a view. I’m thankful that my Book Club provided the dancefloor to have a jig with Em Rusciano.
I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!