The other night after getting everything done on my To Do list, I realized that I had a free hour or so before bed time. While I could have filled it up with watching TV, I instead picked up a book that my wife had given me for Christmas and began to read. As I moved through the opening pages, I was completely captivated and realized that I had stumbled on to an excellent and thought-proving resource.
Written by Joel ben Izzy, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness (Algonquin Books, 2003) is a true story about a storyteller who loses his voice and believes he’s lost everything. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer, a usually treatable form of cancer, in the summer of 1997, Joel awoke from surgery with a strange complication; he could not speak. However, an encounter with his old teacher shows him that he has been given a great gift. Their meeting leads Joel ben Izzy on a journey into the timeless wisdom of ancient tales - a world of beggars and kings, monks and tigers, lost horses and buried treasures. In the end, he discovers many insights, including what he believes is the secret to happiness.
As one who loves to listen to a good story as well as tell one, I was very moved by this book about a storyteller who loses his voice. In my line of work, I have never experienced this and yet can very much image the challenges this would create in my work and my home life. The pain, the grief and the difficulty would be horrendous.
Yet as I read through this marvelous book and the wonderfully delightfully ancient stories blended into his story, I came away feeling uplifted and inspired. The style of his writing, the depth of his thoughts, and the quality of his story telling reminded me of the book called The Other 90% by Robert K. Cooper. However, in The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, Joel ben Izzy does not blend in brain research or leadership material as much as share a deep understanding of the personal journey through change.
While I read many books and articles on a regular basis, this particular book has grown on me during the days since I have completed it. Most of the books I read are related to work and thus I take in-depth notes on them. I currently have 97 of them annotated in my computer so I can reference them during executive coaching sessions or when I am designing a seminar. However, this book I will not annotate as much as reread parts of it on a regular basis, and keep thinking about what he wrote.
For those of you who are coming to the Spring 2012 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable on April 12-13 in Des Moines, I know I will be sharing at least one of the “ancient tales” from the book with all of you. It is a delightful one and I have been smiling all week thinking about it. Until then, I highly recommend this book and strongly encourage you to read it.
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257