It’s hard to imagine life lessons from both Mother Teresa and a small-town mortician in the same book, but author Michael Rosenbaum managed to find the common links in his newest book, Your Name Here GUIDE TO LIFE. Michael beat the odds by figuring out how to transform his own outlook on life and now he’s looking to help others on the same journey. Here is our brief interview with a very unlikely author for an inspirational book.
Q. You’re not famous, are you?
A. In my house, almost everyone recognizes me, but I do get to walk around town without being mobbed by paparazzi.
Q. That’s great, but why would anyone read a book of life lessons from somebody who isn’t a celebrity?
A. First, I desperately need attention. If enough people read the book, I won’t have to do something stupid that gets posted on You Tube. And, if millions of people read the book, I WILL be a celebrity.
Q. Seriously. Why will people want to get their insights into life lessons and happiness from you?
A. Because I was relatively unhappy for most of my life. I had to figure out for myself how to make the journey…and I took notes along the way.
Q. So the Your Name Here Guide to Life is really a biography?
A. If it is, it’s not my biography, because these are life stories shared by millions of people. When I tell people a story from the book, they often respond by saying, “I had a situation just like that…” or “the same thing happened to my daughter…” The book is about the human condition and the way all of us share our lives. In fact, that’s why we have the subtitle, “The book you’d have written, if only you had the time.”
Q. So if people know many of these lessons, why do they need you to change their lives?
A. First, I am absolutely not going to change anyone’s life. All I can do is change myself, and that’s the only person any of us can change. The good news is that we all have the power within us.
Q. If people already have the power to change, why do they need self-help and inspirational books like yours?
A. Too often, we make the mistake of ceding our power to someone else. Maybe it’s our second-grade teacher or the person who stood us up at the prom. We never get past the hurt, which means we continue to give control of our lives to someone we might never see again. Among other things, the book includes ways to regain the power we gave away to someone else.
Q. Have you ever given other people that kind of power over your life?
A. Absolutely! At some point, we all make this mistake. Eventually, we can learn to avoid most of the traps we set for ourselves. We never get to perfection, but one day we tip the scales dramatically in the right direction.
Q. In the book, you talk about the accidental teachers you’ve met. Who are they?
A. Some are cops, who almost always pick up incredible wisdom on the job, and others are doctors, psychologists, moms, dads, morticians…you name it. Everybody gains some priceless insight along the way and they end up sharing their lessons one way or another.
Q. One way or another?
A. Sometimes, people demonstrate an important lesson by doing something stupid. Many accidental teachers are seemingly ordinary people who suddenly drop an incredible bit of wisdom into a conversation. Others do the opposite, delivering a major lesson about how not to think, act or speak. All of us lead by bad example at some point in our lives.
Q. Including you?
A. Of course. I’m human, so I’m subject to all the failings described in the book. That’s the whole point. Except for a few outliers, we’re all living the same lives. We all end up with the same disappointments and we all have similar experiences. Knowing how much we’re like other people is a great comfort. It means we’re not alone in the world.
Q. Why would people want to read your book?
A. It’s honest and funny, and it resonates with the way people really live. People connect my stories to their lives because they’ve been there and done that.
Q. You deliver your lessons through stories rather than a direct discussion of issues or values. Why did you choose this approach?
A. Storytelling is a great, non-confrontational way to share wisdom and people respond better to stories than to lectures.
Q. I noticed that each chapter includes some space for people to write in their own stories.
A. That’s very important, because everyone has personal stories and lessons to share. By giving people a space to jot down their own reminders, we can expand the impact of the discussion. We’ve even asked people to share their stories and wisdom at www.yournamehereguide.com .
Q. Does that mean there will be future Your Name Here guides with other people’s lessons?
A. I hope so. We’re working on a few concepts right now and seeking contributions at our website.
Q. Your Name Here Guide to Life is an unusual name. How did you come up with it?
A. We were talking about the universal nature of the stories and lessons in the book, and somebody noted that almost anyone could claim this as their own personal guide. That reminded us of the Your Name Here tags we end up wearing at conferences and it seemed like an apt reference to our universal uniqueness.
Q. One last question. What’s the most important lesson in your book?
A. Thanks for asking an impossible question. If I had to pick only one lesson, it would also be one word: Choices. Many things happen in our lives and we control very few of them. The one thing we can control, almost invariably, is how we respond to life’s events. We choose how we react, how we internalize and how we move forward. Having this choice makes us very, very powerful.