Book Review of H. Michelle Johnson’s “Do Great Exploits-Saying Yes To Your Dreams When It’s Easier To Say No”

Conversations with Caribbean authors who motivate, educate and empower-a Black History Month special series.

H. Michelle Johnson: Author, Coach, Speaker and Radio Co-host.
Photo design by Amanda J Edwin.

On my current Facebook Live Series, Breaking Barriers–Caribbean Authors Who Motivate, Educate and Empower, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to have conversations with minority authors of Caribbean backgrounds. This series is my contribution to Black History Month, yet it is so much more than that. It’s about showcasing talent while providing strategies for overcoming obstacles in life, and empowering others to break through the barriers that impede their path to success. The selected authors, have such amazing stories and journeys to share.

The Author

This review focusses on “Do Great Exploits–Saying Yes to Your Dreams When It Is Easier to Say No” written by H. Michelle Johnson. As life would have it, Michelle and I were best friends during our childhood and early teen years. We possess splendid memories of attempting to write songs and music together; the beginning of our aspirations for the skill. Like most friendships, life interrupts, we spread our wings, we lose connections, and in that time, we grow and sometimes reconnect. Michelle and I reconnected a few years ago and maintained our friendship, even being miles and time zones apart. I am especially proud of her accomplishments as an author and was ecstatic when she agreed to meet with me for a one-to-one conversation about her first book.

Michelle explained that she began writing feature articles which were published in online and print magazines. This is where she really started getting her feet wet in the field of writing. From there, she launched into writing her first book, hosting a podcast called, Women 101, and now does group talks with young adults and women.

The Book

Do Great Exploits–Saying Yes to Your Dreams When It Is Easier to Say No” is a book for someone who is passionate about self-development or who is on a self-discovery journey. The book speaks about discovering one’s purpose in life and shows you how to go about doing that. As Michelle aptly says, it is about discovering your “It” and connecting it to your “Why”. The book, which is set out in three parts, helps the reader to connect the dots by using the simple principles that are outlined.

From very early in the book, Michelle identified five reasons for knowing and living one’s purpose. These reasons are cited as:

1) It brings clarity

2) Gives you direction

3) Keeps you focused on the big picture

4) Can prolong your life

5) Makes you effective and creates a life of impact

Personally, I used the book like a workbook and it has been a substantial source of motivation for me. Michelle artfully wove the stories of some of her favourite Biblical figures into the fibre of the text. She adopted their narratives as examples of how we, too, can do great exploits by applying the principles practiced by these simple, but well-known characters. While reading through the book, you may see yourself in one or more of the figures depending on the roles you play in life and the journey that you are on.

In my heart of hearts, I wanted to be an author of books, but the thing is I wanted to be a fiction writer, so that was a bit of a stumbling block for me.

H. Michelle Johnson

In our conversation, I asked Michelle where her inspiration came from to write this book?

Here is an excerpt of what she said in our virtual interview:

Michelle: Writing has always been who and what I am. My earliest memories as a child apart from living in Arima, what I wanted to and how I wanted to express myself, was writing. I used to write a lot of poems, and in fact I remember you and I trying to do some song writing and stuff. I come from a very creative family.

In my heart of hearts, I wanted to be an author of books, but the thing is I wanted to be a fiction writer, so that was a bit of a stumbling block for me. I have started so many fictions and novels which I abandoned because actually, writing fiction for me anyway is pretty hard. So eventually, I think I was in my late 20s, early 30s and thought maybe I should try non-fiction. Actually, non-fiction was really easy for me. I can sit and easily write on something around non-fiction. I suppose even my character and my personality; I am a naturally curious person. I am an introvert and every friend of mine will tell you I am not an introvert, but I am. By this, I mean, I am quite happy to sit in a corner in a room full of people and hardly interact at all. But I am absorbing like a sponge, sitting quietly and engaged, and so I see so much and hear so much, get so much insight just doing that naturally. That then pours itself out into my writing.

People describe the book as wise and inspirational, and it’s because of what I can draw and absorb, then articulate into non-fiction. This type of book is an inspirational, motivational book, and the byline is “Saying Yes to Your Dreams When It Is Easier to Say No”. This genre, self-help, motivational concept really came about when I was a teenager and getting ready to write my GCE exam in Trinidad. My aunt took me to work and set me up in the boardroom; she worked in a bank. What she did, stuck in these videotapes of Les Brown, Monroe, John C. Maxwell. So I had that, and it just captured my attention. These guys who were able to speak in a way that was so entertaining, motivational, and inspirational. Then my thing became reading John C. Maxwell books, Munroe, Steven Covey. It was a Eureka moment and said to myself, “Michelle you see this fiction thing, you can never successfully finish anything, you don’t even read fiction”. So, the reason why this book is this kind of book, is because this is really what I have digested for 30-odd years.

(Transcribed from the video. Watch the full video.)

Pinterest pin showing article title and picture of author and the book being reviewed.
Design Credit: Amanda J. Edwin

Michelle took on her writing journey with passion and practiced the principles that she talks about in her book. Her message is that anyone can do great exploits and make a difference; regardless of your status in this life. You may already be living your purpose, so embrace it.

The book is very conversational, easy to read and there is something for everyone to relate to. If you are unsure of your “It” or your “Why”, then I highly recommend that you read “Do Great Exploits–Saying Yes to Your Dreams When It is Easier to Say No”.

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