A few weeks ago, I received a mysterious yet elegant parcel in my mail. Initially, I thought that it was a perfume box but when I opened it, I found a book, a candle, a fragrant letter and a mirror. The letter asked the reader how they felt when they beheld their reflection in the mirror. It was a sort of invite for the reader to take a dive into a journey of personal development. The packaging was impressive and the gifts that it came along with were meaningful.
The book was titled, “Dare To Be You” by Shahzad Mailk and the cover read “Pakistan’s First English Self-Development Book”. I felt excited to read it, especially being a self-help buff who has taken delight in reading many of the works of Malcolm Gladwell, Mark Manson, Eckhart Tolle, Anthony Robbins, Elizabeth Gilbert, Deepak Chopra, Brene` Brown, Dale Carnegie and more.
Also, the timing of receiving this book was pretty interesting, as my business had suddenly come to a screeching halt due to the Covid pandemic. I thought that I could use some motivation.
I felt invigorated by the title “Dare to be you” – these are simple yet harrowing words because it is probably the most daunting feat to completely be oneself in a world that is constantly trying to mold you into something that you are not.
The writer delves into the unseen forces of belief, positivity, fear, the laws of the universe, happiness, passion, purpose, self-belief and being you, which he states, help to determine how we live our lives.
He provides the reader with an understanding of how one’s beliefs as well as the laws of the universe work together to shape up one’s reality. He goes into the fears that hold one back and provides visualisation exercises and mental tools to help the reader carve out the destiny that they aspire to create.
Being someone well acquainted with the world of self-help, I found the book to be a helpful mix and mélange of different teachings and findings, from Zen Buddhism to scientific researches to pop culture memetics. While I didn’t find most of the ideas completely revolutionary, I was pleased to read these ideas presented in a fresh light by the writer. They surely helped me to re-evaluate my life and I believe that if I actually implemented them onto my life, they could prove to revolutionise it. Often it is the simple ideas that can make a big difference.
It was interesting to read that the writer wished to start a wind electricity generation farm, which actually came into fruition due to his positive thinking. But it was mentioned briefly and I would have liked to read more about how he actually implemented the project. Of what it took beyond positive thinking to achieve it. While I found the examples, ideas and theories to be useful, I felt that the writer shied away from revealing more of who he was barring a few mentions of his personal triumphs and challenges.
The book also mentions some universal laws such as the law of cause and effect, creation and responsibility. I particularly liked “The Law of Responsibility” which states that a person is completely responsible for whatever he or she achieves or does NOT achieve in life and that he or she must take personal responsibility for his triumphs and failures alike. I found this law to be particularly relevant in an age of entitlement, where most people are ready to blame someone else for their misfortunes. I remembered reading similar laws in Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”. However, Malik’s laws were different and a good reminder of something long forgotten.
I particularly liked the future-self visualisation exercise near the end of the book. It is something that I could practice each time I want to evaluate my life or whenever I achieve a milestone while facing my self in the “dare to be you” mirror. Just having these totems in and around your room could serve as a reminder to remain focused on your goals.
The book frequently quotes useful anecdotes and lessons from the lives of celebs and personalities such as Freddy Mercury, John Lennon, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs, which are uplifting and insightful. However, from a Pakistani book, I expected to read some examples of successful Pakistanis, such as humanitarian Edhi, pop star Nazia Hassan, comedian Omar Sharif, politician Benazir Bhutto and/or business tycoon Salman Taseer and how they achieved success within the not-so-encouraging environment of Pakistan.
Overall, I think that “Dare To Be You” is a good book for someone new to the world of personal development. The writer seems genuinely interested in trying to help the reader and the book could act as a compass to guide you whenever you feel lost. Some of it’s messages contain a universality that could help any one in any part of the world. My only critique is that that the ideas in the book could have been made more personalised and localised for higher impact.
So, ultimately, did the book help me pull myself out of my post covid-era slump?
I would say yes. At the least, it got me to write again after a looong while. And I consider that to be a triumph.