Book Review: The Tools

Author(s):  Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

Published by:  Random House Canada

ISBN #978-0-307-36092-2

Section:  Self-Help/Psychology & Psychiatry

Reviewed by:  Faith Wood, Inspiring Minds Consulting Ltd (

Date:  May 31, 2012

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by an issue or problem in your life that you felt the urge to hide?  So out of options and ideas that you felt like the universe was conspiring against you?

I imagine that we have all had moments in our life that shared this perspective.  Challenging moments, filled with adversity tend to leave us feeling helpless, insecure and uncertain about our choices.

“When all the King’s horses and all the King’s men can’t put you back together again, the universal human reaction is….dread.”   It is our humanistic response to unwelcome changes.

But, why do we resist change?  Choosing to agonize over a problem rather than do something constructive about it?

Perhaps, as the saying goes, the only people who like change are busy cashiers and wet babies.  Most of us find change disorienting and uncomfortable, creating within us anxiety, doubt and fear.   We like our established routines (even when they are clearly not working for us)! Why?  Because we don’t have to think!  Thinking is hard work.

We tend to respond to change the same way we respond to anything we perceive as a threat: by flight or fight.   Our first reaction is flight-we try to avoid change if we can.   When that doesn’t work, we seal ourselves off from those around us using negativity, destructive criticism and even self-sabotage.  We are consumed by our resistance and our fears.

Authors Phil Stutz and Barry Michels advocate in their new book, The Tools, that change is a fact of life which means we all have to learn how to manage changes, how to cope with it and how to survive it.   Through a variety of case studies and practical step by step processes, these authors offer up some compelling ‘Tools” designed to connect us to a universe that conspires only to have us evolve into our true untapped potential.

“What if every bad thing that’s ever happened to you – including every problem you’ve ever had – was there, in your life, to get you in touch with the abilities you never knew you had?  And what if there were specific procedures that led you directly to those new abilities?”

In their book, the authors describe two types of readers:  1) the Consumer – addicted to self-help materials which they read voraciously (consume) and then toss up on the shelf.  And 2) the Creators – who take what is written and attempt to apply it into real live practice.

“A Consumer feels that life is only meaningful when personal needs are being gratified.  Problems, because they are ungratifying, inevitably destroy the consumer’s sense of purpose.  In contrast, a Creator has a sense of meaning that cannot be destroyed.  A creator insists on seeing problems as driving him towards something better, something higher in himself.  Far from destroying his sense of meaning, problems actually reinforce the belief.”

Why not skip all this spiritual stuff and just “go with the flow” and cope?  Though coping is an important skill, it limits your choices.  Just coping means you probably feel helpless & trapped a victim of the situation or your life.  You end up on the sidelines, cocooned and isolated.  You check out!

Or you can charge through the change filled with anger and frustration, trying to force things to go your way.  But if you spend your life fighting change then you will be filled with destructive energy that saps your strength and leaves you lonely and once again, victimized.

If you don’t learn how to handle change/problems, you set yourself up for a lifetime of stress, anxiety, pain and fear.  The authors would like to help you prevent that by teaching you 5 simple Tools:

1)      The reversal of desire – designed to tap you into an energy that moves you forward in your own life.  Once tapped into an energy that is constantly moving forward, the world becomes less intimidating, your energy grows and the future looks more hopeful or optimistic.

2)      Active Love – a sense of acceptance.  It dissolves unfairness and allows you to give to others without reservation.

3)      Inner Authority – Helps you stop looking at others for approval and look inwards instead

4)      The Grateful Flow – tapping into a sense of gratitude which connects you to a higher wisdom state.

5)      Jeopardy – the ability to tap into willpower to help you overcome the tendency to quit.

Learning to handle change means making conscious choices about how you respond and what you do in the face of change.  If you don’t learn change tactics, you’ll continue to struggle emotionally and energetically.  The authors encourage readers to discover the tactics (tools) that work to keep you in alignment with a higher energy source and practice them daily.  They expect (heck even anticipate) your skepticism, but if what you’re doing now is not producing the results you are after then perhaps you have nothing to lose by investing in The Tools.