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The One-Life Solution: Reclaiming Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success

By Henry Cloud


ISBN: 9780061466427

Review by Douglas Balzer


Life throws curveballs! It is an old saying I heard many times growing up. In many ways, it is a truism, but I have often wondered how many times have I actually been the one who threw the curveball and sabotaged my pursuits in life, as well as the pursuits of others. Still, taking this thought further, I have to wonder how others may have been in involved in the disruption of our pursuit of a life worth living.

Henry Cloud’s book The One-Life Solution: Reclaiming Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success is the book to help answer such deep questions and put you back on a path of the pursuit of the life you see as worth living. Cloud is well known for his book on boundaries, and this tomb uses the boundary concepts while covering the key issues that can and do sabotage us in our pursuits. In the book, he further explains the next step on how to deal with the key issues and move on towards the best practices, healthy practices to Reclaim Your Personal Life.

Cloud reminds us of the basic issue for all of us is learning to set boundaries. How we set boundaries for our lives is critical. Who sets the boundaries in our lives? Do other people control what we do or how we live, or will we set the boundaries for our lives? If we understand the first alternative, it is worth the effort to learn to do whatever it takes to set boundaries for ourselves. Deciding for ourselves the what we will and won’t do. Deciding how much energy and time we will commit is crucial in our process. In many ways, we like to think of ourselves as unlimited, but the reality is we are exceptionally limited.

Cloud states, “Most people try to control things they can’t control. All we can really control is ourselves.”

Herding cats is a great example of try to control things we can’t control. It is one of the most important realizations we must learn. How many times do you feel responsible for how other people live, react, respond, and commit to following Christ fully? This is a dilemma for pastors, I should know after the many experiences of learning how destructive it was and is in my life. As pastors, we try to live our lives sacrificially working hard to help some people change more than they were working at their own change. Cloud recommends getting relief from this treadwheel by knowing the distinction between being responsible for others versus being responsible to others. Cloud make the distinction clear, we are not responsible for what people do or the choices they make, but we are responsible, to tell the truth, encourage and love people. Control what you can and know the difference. Here is the basis of our most significant issue, we do not clearly understand the difference, so we become controlling as we work hard for people to make sure they do the “right” thing. Ultimately, the outcome is not good.

Cloud makes it clear our boundaries are the structure of our personalities, and as we live them out, we organize the structure of ourselves, our relationships, our work, and our life. Cloud asserts that if all goes well in our development, the structures are in place that allows us to experience ourselves as separate and differentiated from others, if we contain harmful patterns and keep them from spreading, define ourselves and know who we are, and set limits when needed, possess and live out our values, and exercise self-control we can be free and autonomous. Not blown to and fro or move with the tides of the emotions of others in the ocean, as well as the bays and estuaries of our lives. Chapter four is excellent concerning how to reclaim our power, the power of our lives by rebuilding our boundaries. The most significant aspect of the reclamation of our power is our personal cognition. One of the most important questions that you will ever ask yourself: Where, with whom, and under what circumstances do you lose your power? What are the chinks in your armor? Where are the holes in your fences? We have to be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. We lose power or control over our lives when we have personal weak spots.

Cloud’s Chapter six: The Laws of Boundaries is especially helpful in understanding what is going right and where things have gone off the tracks or askew. It is a particularly challenging chapter, but so are all the chapters if someone is practicing self-reflection to gain actualization in these areas of life.

I hope you pick up a copy of Cloud’s The One Life Solution and read through it several times. His wisdom and insights are worth the small investment.

Now in conclusion, probably the hardest hitting statement Cloud makes to us is “In life, you will get what you tolerate.” What a challenging statement. In one statement Cloud places the responsibility squarely on our shoulders for our lives. If I tolerate it, it will continue to happen. If someone is consistently walking all over us and we tolerate it, it will continue to happen. If someone is disrespectful, and we tolerate it, it will continue to happen. If then, the natural consequences of tolerance. In these situations, there is no one else to blame but ourselves. We need to assess our lives with fresh eyes honestly and ask the hard questions. What things am I tolerating in my life? What if I stopped tolerating them would it change things? Cloud’s challenge to us in this book is this, are we willing to take the time to think about the whole content of this book with the perspective it is our responsibility to address these issues and not others. If we want to see a change, we have to begin with ourselves. We can’t have expectations of others to do things differently if we do not begin with ourselves and speak up.