Who are You, and Why?: The Evolution of You by Brian Penso (Author), Raymond Aaron (Foreword)

In the movie “A League of Their Own,” Tom Hanks braces up one of his trembling all-girl-team players and barks, “Are you crying?”

When she doesn’t respond, he follows this observation with a classically pragmatic admonition that sends the unfortunate young woman weeping into the locker room:

“There’s no crying in baseball!” he yells first, right in her face and again at her fleeing back. “There’s no crying in baseball!”

Author Brian Penso, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” who has picked himself up from failure many times to once again start over, gives readers a healthy dose of this kind of thinking in his priceless debut motivational book, Who Are You, And Why?

It’s a masterwork of motivation, expertly delivered with all the panache of a Parris Island drill instructor who understands that his role is not to help you ”feel better,” but to prepare you for life’s hard-knocks killing field, where only those with supreme self-confidence will survive.

If you have ever whined about being perpetually picked last in the cosmic game of life, this slim volume will soon set you straight on the reason why.

“There’s a silver lining to all this talk about negativity,” Penso says near the start of the book. “And I’m going to tell you that life-changing fact. Are you ready? Are you primed? Are you sitting down? Then here’s the great lifechanging information:

“When it comes to negativity in your life, YOU CREATED IT. ”

Then, for folks who are sinking under the weight of this blunt assertion, he offers a behavioral olive branch:

”You have the same ability to create the good stuff, the positives in your life. You just need to change direction, and to make some different choices.”

In a more helpful and far less judgmental tone than he uses in his opening chapter, he then lays out, in workbook format, complete with space at the end of every chapter for readers to make notes, the steps a person must take to effect a new direction for themselves.

“At this point,” he says,  “it’s decision time: stay on the path that was chosen for you, or get off your ass and choose the path that best fits your desires.”

That path includes a firm disconnect with all the things that got you into your currently dysfunctional situation. Then, he recommends an equally firm reconnect along lines he lays out.

  • Create or join a “mastermind” group from whom you can draw collective support and inspiration.

  • Live your life, not the one chosen for you. An important change in mindset that encourages you to set and achieve realistic goals.

  • Shake off the constraints of learned behavior and mindfully train yourself to think and act differently — in line with your new goals.

Finally, Penso suggests that in doing so, you are “giving your mind instruction.”

“It is your greatest asset,” he says of your gray matter. “If you ask or tell your mind to do something for you, it will work around the clock to make that thing happen.”

The rest of this excellent book is similarly filled with a combination of Dutch uncle wisdom and how-to instructions on the task of turning your ship in a more positive direction.

And near the end, he offers this candid insight:

“It only took me 15 years to become an overnight success. And the reality is that less than 3% of the population ever accomplish the goals they pursue, simply because they tossed in the towel way too soon.

“The truth of the matter is that you can accomplish virtually anything if you stick to it; the only thing that can stop you from achieving your goals is death itself.”

Five-plus stars to this wonderfully brash book that tells it like it is when it comes to seizing all that life has to offer. It should be on everyone’s summer reading list.

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