Review by: Michele Applegate
Enrollment Management and Student Services
Rowan College at Burlington County
Mount Laurel, NJ
No two students are the same. It is a hard-pressed fact that advisors have had to maneuver in order to assist each individual student to the best of their ability. We are tasked to support students using a multitude of approaches and in some cases, more than one approach in a single advising session. In essence, advisors must be adaptable. Having these techniques readily accessible in order to really engage students in the advising conversation is a skill not easily acquired.
Cathy Salit’s (2016) Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work is a guide to embracing the need for changing one’s persona continuously in order to perform to the highest level. Salit purposefully uses the term “perform” to convey that in order to grow and develop as not only a professional but also an individual, it is important to embody the uncomfortable and act in a way that may be out of the norm (p. 9). She claims that by acting out a performance it allows for the new behavior to become another technique that will soon be readily accessible and argues that this new behavior may even shed light on a part of ourselves that we did not know existed.
Salit (2016) considers there to be five fundamentals of performance: (1) choosing to grow, (2) building ensembles everywhere, (3) listening, (4) being creative in the everyday, and (5) improvising your life (p. 29). Using real life examples, she makes these principles accessible to her readers. As advisors, embracing the five fundamentals of performance by making the choice to expand our abilities as advisors; learning from and with our peers; truly listening to our students, coworkers, and supervisors; being creative in the ways that we use new information; and by practicing performance outside of the workspace, may allow advisors to build even stronger relationships with their advisees. One of the themes throughout this book is that fostering relationships and expanding networks are essential to success and this is certainly true for academic advising.
One of the strengths of this book is Salit’s (2016) ability to make change seem almost easy. Her energy and passion for performance is contagious throughout, which encourages the reader to do more than simply read about change, but to also enact it. While I found the book’s overall message useful, Salit (2016) was a bit repetitive in her delivery.
This book is a reminder that while advisors may become comfortable advising students from one or two approaches, this may be limiting our development and the development of our students by not continuously seeking to become more. I would recommend advisors of any level to browse this book for inspiration and advice on how to use performance to improve their advising practice.
BkRev # 1719. Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work. (2016). Review by Michele Applegate. Book by Cathy Salit. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, 244 pp. #32.50. (Hardcover), ISBN 978-0-316-38248-9, www.HachetteBookGroup.com