It is hard for me to ignore any book by Henry Cloud. Back in 2003, my pastor preached a sermon based on Cloud's earlier book, co-author with John Townsend, called: Boundaries. The sermon interested me enough that I bought the book and read it. Applying prescriptions from the book to my personal and professional life led me to perceive my call into pastoral ministry. It is hard to ignore any book by Henry Cloud.
The One-Life Solution is a book focused on constructing and developing better boundaries at work (19). Cloud observes: The irony is that most people are so caught up in trying to control the things that they cannot control--other people, circumstances, or outcomes--that in the process they lose control of themselves (22). In this context, Cloud defines a boundary as a property which defines where you end and someone (or something) else begins (25).
In a work environment, Cloud sees boundaries bringing order to six key areas: 1. Ownership, 2. Control, 3. Freedom, 4. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences, 5. Limits, and 6. Protection (25-30). Interestingly, these six areas do not lend structure to the discussions that follow. Rather, much of the book focuses on untidy areas in professional life where applying boundaries can establish structure and reduce anxiety.
Cloud suggests that a good place to start is with an audit. The purpose of this audit is to measure where you spend your time, disconnects between time spent and personal values, and what personal issues contribute to the problem (69). This method of analysis is reminiscent of what Miller and Rollnick (2002, 38) referred to as gap analysis--highlighting the discrepancy between present behavior and ...broader goals and values.
An important point in assessing books with the character of movie sequels is: does the sequel add value to the initial book? Here the answer is yes--The One-Life Solution contributed real value to my understanding of boundaries. For the key was seeing examples of how to manage difficult office situation with tact and grace. A personal favorite was a story that Cloud told about an obnoxious CEO who would show up at his desk at 4 p.m. and lay into him--ruining his evening as well as his day. Cloud (152) simply made a rule not to talk to him after 4 p.m. If you have ever had a supervisor like that, then the wisdom of such a rule is obvious.
Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. 1992. Boundaries: When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Miller, William R. and Stephen Rollnick. 2002. Motivational Interviews: Preparing People for Change. New York: Guilford Press.