We all need people to help us find the way. In this stirring new book, acclaimed author and educator Eric Liu takes us on a quest for those guiding lights. He shares invaluable lessons from people whose “classrooms” are boardrooms, arenas, concert halls, theaters, kitchens, and places of worship–and in the process, he reveals a surprising path to purpose.
As he entered fatherhood and a phase of changing ambitions, Eric Liu set out in search of great mentors. He found much more. He encountered people from all walks of life, from all across the country, with something powerful to pass on about how to change lives. Among those Liu portrays in vivid and fascinating narratives are one of Hollywood’s finest acting teachers, who turns a middling young actress into a project for transformation; an esteemed major league pitching coach, haunted by the players he’s let down; a rising executive whose eye for untapped talent allows her to rescue a floundering employee; a master clown whose workshop teaches a husband-and-wife team to revamp their relationship, onstage and off; a high school debate coach whose protégée falters at the pinnacle, and thus finds triumph; and a gangland priest who has saved many and yet still must confront the limits of his power to heal.
In these pages are remarkable stories of apprenticeship–of failure, hope, and discovery. These are stories of men and women who learned to hear the sound of other people’s voices and, in so doing, found their own way to a better and fuller life. As Eric Liu reminds us, these are our stories. Lyrical and accessible, Guiding Lights is a course to benefit any reader, a superb work of narrative nonfiction, and an exciting departure for its accomplished author. This book will change how we live, lead, learn, and love. Pass it on.
"We are all teachers," writes former Clinton speechwriter and author of The Accidental Asian. We all have something of value to transmit to others, and Liu has a new spin on how best to do it. Having spent two years talking with official and informal instructors and their students from all walks of life, Liu arrived at five strategies he believes are integral to teaching. These include receiving before transmitting that is, tuning in to the student's unique qualities and motivations; unblocking and unlocking helping students overcome their inner obstacles; and zooming in and out breaking the subject down and then connecting it other matters. A good teacher himself, Liu embeds his lessons in narratives, e.g., following a baseball pitching coach through a season and tracking Jocelyn Wong's climb up the career ladder at Procter & Gamble thanks to a supervisor who was able to see and release the creative passion Wong had suppressed. Liu is a skillful writer and has homed in on points that can help anyone who teaches, whether a parent, a professional mentor or just an older and wiser friend. But he's also a good storyteller, and his anecdotes are frequently more illustrative of great teaching than his theories.