Dale A. Hicks, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist | Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach
Dr. Anton’s newest book, Ascend: Forging a Path to Your Truer Self (2015), represents a breakthrough approach in facilitating psychological change. As a product of CEO Effectiveness, a primary objective of Ascend was to facilitate leaders in exploring their own mental models, understanding how these relate to their leadership outcomes and have a broad impact on the environment and the success of their organizations. By identifying, challenging and altering the mental models that limit their leadership effectiveness, they can become more inspiring leaders and, in turn, enhance the lives, productivity and success of their employees and their organizations. Written as an interesting and entertaining allegory, however, Ascend has a broad appeal and applicability far beyond CEOs and other leaders. In fact, it should be recommended reading for high school and college students, leaders and other professionals, and virtually anyone who seeks to understand how they may be limiting themselves through outmoded and unchallenged mental models and failing to achieve the results they seek in their personal, academic, or professional lives.
Ascend distinguishes itself on a number of levels from other self-help books, which often focus narrowly on a single issue or area of concern (e.g. dealing with a break-up, loneliness, overcoming social anxiety, finding love, etc.) and provide generic strategies (e.g. what to think, what to say to yourself or how to behave differently) but seldom examine the underlying and often unconscious forces that limit the reader’s ability to benefit from the prescriptive solutions offered. Neither does Ascend settle for the often transient and excitatory energy boost achieved by “inspirational” speeches or books that implore the listener or reader to look in the mirror each day and repeat hopeful, but often empty, self-assurances or statements of self-empowerment. Rather, Ascend, as its title portends, serves as a guide for anyone seeking to expand their self-knowledge and apply it to any and all areas of their lives. It opens the dedicated reader to a broader world of opportunities and possibilities that can truly result in transformative change. In fact, the difference between Ascend and many self-help books is analogous to the difference between rote memorization (which requires no actual understanding) and critical thinking (which is a learned process applied to new situations and circumstances, based on available data – both confirming and disconfirming – to arrive at an informed decision or conclusion).
As the reader becomes immersed in the story and identifies with the characters, Ascend demonstrates in a simple and understandable fashion how mental models develop, how they retain their powerful influence on our lives, how readers can identify their own self-limiting mental models and, most importantly, ways in which they can begin effectively challenging those models in order to move toward their greater potential and truer selves. Research in the area of “pre-therapy training” (or client “role induction”) has demonstrated that the more accurately an individual understands the process of psychotherapy, including realistic expectations about their own participation and the obstacles or roadblocks they are likely to confront, the better able they are to navigate the process and to experience meaningful and transformative change as a result. Thus, while Ascend is a helpful and effective “stand-alone” guide to self-change, it can also serve as a powerful complement to psychotherapy, counseling or coaching and is recommended reading for anyone seeking transformative, lasting and real change.