I very much liked the message of this book. I didn’t like the execution of providing the message very much. There were good and bad things about both the message and execution, but good ones carried much more weight.
But, I will traditionally start from some…
That’s the minor CON. Some of them were really lame. Dry like a desert. But some of them cracked me up too. I guess, you cannot win them all, right?
But there is an underlying issue here too. Check out CON #3.
2. Overly Spiritual.
That’s nitpicking, I know. This is a book written by a pastor for Christians. It should be spiritual and it serves this crowd.
However, I hate the fact that people who need this message the most, luke-warmed Christians and secular people, will miss out on this. The ruthless elimination of hurry helps you become a better human being, not just a better Christian.
I’m a Christian, and I always try to mix both spiritual and secular tips in my texts, so the majority of the population will not be left out.
On the other hand, I guess none of this makes deep sense if there is not a loving God who knows what’s good and bad for us. You can go through the motions, but if you don’t see the meaning, will you even bother to go through the motions?
As I said, pure nitpicking.
3. Language, Please!
But I fully agree with the current top review of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry on Amazon: the language is dumbed down and this does the book a great disservice. Seriously, I love self-published books for the personal tone and personal stories. But if the personal tone becomes a colloquial one, especially tackling such a serious subject matter… Ouch.
That severely spoiled my reading experience. Still, I highlighted a lot of passages and devoured the book. It taught me something. It reinforced or articulated a lot of what I already knew. But the sour taste remained.
Definitely, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is not a perfect book. But it is a very good one. Here comes the plenty of…
1. The Origin Story.
For me, it set the stage for the whole book. But the advice from Comer’s mentor, repeated word by word, when asked about spiritual progress?
Plus, John’s struggles with keeping his sanity in the hurry of the everyday life made the whole book relatable for me.
It was a perfect way to start the book. Big kudos for that.
I’m a guy who has been practicing Sabbath for 25 years (since I was 17 years old). I never grasped completely where it comes from. I was simply obedient.
Not zealous; my line of work (IT support of 24/7 systems) demanded attending some emergencies and scheduled maintenance on Sundays. But I always had the gut feeling it’s extremely important to stick to the Sabbath practice.
Even during my university studies, I must have been really pressed (the final attempt to pass an exam) to study on Sunday. When I had the chance to stray away from the projects that needed occasional work on Sundays, I jumped on it.
However, only by reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry did I realize what Sabbath really provides:
the Sabbath — just like an animal or a human being — has the life-giving capacity to procreate.”
I knew the Ten Commandments by heart, but the Catholic version of the Sabbath commandment (in teaching, not in the Bible) is severely abbreviated: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. I never paid attention to the whole placement of the commandment.
What penetrated my awareness was probably quoting the percentages:
If you were to configure Ten Commandments as a pie chart, this one would take up over 30 percent of the pie.”
I’m a numbers freak. I know what they mean, like normal people know what words mean. The third commandment is utterly important. The author’s line of reasoning convinced me completely. I was ready to accept that the Sabbath is life-giving.
3. The Message.
Like most people nowadays, I stuffed way too many tasks into my days. Almost exactly two years ago, a friend challenged me to dedicate half an hour a day for physical activity.
I had to force myself to carve out those 30 minutes a day. It helped me immensely in keeping a sane mind among the multitude of things I do on a daily basis (writing, coaching, a day job, book advertising business, three masterminds, etc.). It saved my mind when I was in the thick of the COVID-induced brain fog for three months.
Also, around the same time I started tracking my work time. I had been working 4–6 hours a day (apart from Sundays, of course). And my income didn’t fluctuate much. Creating time for walks and bike rides also created a mind space for me.
I think this is a good illustration of what eliminating hurry out of your life does. Comparing to most corporate workers, I work at a leisurely pace. And I’m making more money than my director in PwC who has 60+ people under her chain of command.
I’m talking money here because that’s the main illusion in hurry’s favor — that by doing more and faster you can have more. Yes, you can, but it’s not a guarantee. You can have “much” by working 4–6 hours a day.
That’s just tackling the carnal part of things. When it comes to the spiritual realm, hurry gives zero return. In fact, it’s a hurdle.
I pray, meditate, read and journal for about two hours a day, and I’ve been doing that for years. This is the sole reason I could hustle for years and didn’t ever burn out. There were a few occasions where I was close to a breakdown, but I always had space in my days reserved for God and relationships; that saved me.
Oh, and I didn’t just survive. I made a lot of progress. And that’s my point. You don’t need to hurry up to grow. You need to slow down. Comer articulates it aptly in his book.
4. 20 Practices to Slow Down.
That was the best part of the book, in my opinion, because it was the most practical. I’m a down-to-earth kind of person. Deep philosophical ruminations are fine and good, but if they don’t translate into concrete daily actions, I just don’t hold them in high esteem.
The practices John enumerated are clear, precise and taken from his experience. You can take them and apply immediately.
And they are so challenging! Seriously, remember this comes from a guy who spends over 2.5 hours a day on intentional slowing down. I’m on the same page as the author, yet I found most of those disciplines extremely challenging. Also, several of them apply directly to mobile phones. I thought I made a good job of using my smartphone as a tool, but reading through those tips, my complacency evaporated.
Anyway, I think this one chapter is worth the book’s price.
5. Deep and Profound.
Despite “dumbing down” the language, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is still a very deep book. And from time to time, some sentence would hit me like a ton of bricks. A few reflections:
It’s wise to regularly deny ourselves from getting what we want, whether through a practice as intense as fasting or as minor as picking the longest checkout line. That way, when somebody else denies us from getting what we want, we don’t respond with anger.”
Well, John is more of a saint than me. Too often, I do respond with anger. But he is right that asceticism builds barriers between the impulse and the automatic reactions. I’ve never thought of my ascetic practices that way, but I agree 100% with the above passage.
We achieve inner peace when our schedules are aligned with our values.”
Well said, indeed! We regret doing things or not doing them exactly because they are out of sync with our values.
I like cleaning a kitchen from time to time to express my love for my wife. But I cannot fully replace her in this task because then I would scramble to find time for writing. Putting bread on the table is as important as cleaning, and it is my task in our household.
When I regret that I binge-watched a TV series or YT channel, it’s because I didn’t align my actions with my values.
Now, I seriously think I should have a closer look at my schedule and determine what’s aligned with my values in it and what is not.
Life is right under our noses, waiting to be enjoyed.”
Hurry literally robs me of my life. If I don’t take time to enjoy my life, but chase the next shiny object, how would I ever enjoy my life? Pausing the race is a necessary prerequisite for enjoyment.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry is not perfect. It’s too often snarky and ironic. Yet, it’s profound and deep at the same time. Writing a book with all of those characteristics is an art I appreciate.
The ‘youth’ language and lame jokes spoiled my reading experience a bit, but just a bit.
The Bible analysis? Superb. I’ve been studying the Bible for decades, and still I learned something new.
The how-to of slowing down the modern life? Superb. Challenging even for a guy like me who uses the technology as a tool, not an entertainment.
Overall impression? Superb.
Read this book.