- Review: The Seventh Level
- Series: –
- Author: Joe Hefferon
- No of Pages: 196
- Release Date: Published June 2012 by Balboa Press
“Do you feel a rage to achieve? Are you unsure how to begin? What are the secrets to building an extraordinary life? What are the best methods for generating ideas, formulating a plan and constructing your vision?
In The Seventh Level, Joe Hefferon guides you through a seven-step process distilled from an exploration of the world’s most ingenious minds—the architects of the great cathedrals and skyscrapers, the visionary galleries and awe-inspiring residences. Nearly every important moment of our lives is in some way connected to a built place, and now that place can be you.
Join forces with the architects to design the life you’ve always dreamed of. This is your pocket renaissance, the new era of you, the quest for that elusive seventh level.”
At the beginning of The Seventh Level, Joe tells us that this book is to be read over and over again. And I’m so glad that he mentioned that. You are supposed to read it once, flipping through pages, seeing if something jumps out at you, getting a feel for what you will be doing in the near future, then after you have an idea go back to the beginning and really delve in! That is exactly what I did.
Now I’m only on my second reading of this and it’s the type of book that I’m going to read over and over and probably get something new out of it each time but I wanted to share my first reading experience. First off he treats this like we are architects. You take one level at a time, foundation, first floor and work your way up until you have an entirely new you! But he expresses how important each level is and mastering each before you move on. Which is one reason why the second reading is taking me so long.
This is a book that is seriously easy to read. The concepts are concepts that I’ve heard before, for the most part anyway, but maybe not all in one place and definitely not set up like this.
To develop these skills you must pause while you are working through a problem to think about your progress or the hindrances to the progress and then re-examine how you are thinking about the problem. Are you on the right track? Are you centered on goals? Can you apply something you’ve already learned on task?
This is one thing I love, honest assessment as he puts it. You are taking control of what’s going on and how you are thinking, just as a scientist would if they were searching for a problem. My favorite part is part three and I can not wait to get to this part again. Meta-cognition is what he calls it.
Meta-cognition helps you to gain control over your thinking processes. You must plot out the type and duration of thinking that will be needed to accomplish a given task.
Well, of course I must! I have been working on my thinking processes for quite some time now but the way Joe Hefferon explains how to dig deep and get into your thoughts AND your surroundings really does make you think. And this is just in the first level!
As the levels progress Joe’s voice gets more and more serious. There is a bit of a stern teacher looking down and saying, well you screwed up because you didn’t do it right but now I’m here to help you, kind of voice. But it’s not sardonic, it’s just a bit chiding, a little push to get us moving (FINALLY) in the right direction instead of wallowing in misery and blaming the world instead of our own choices. But then he goes on to help even more by helping us define ourselves and to continue supporting even as the self doubts start to creep in.
You have to love the process as much as the goal. Honor the work. Then celebrate your mission, your future growth, and your extra-ordinary life.
The messages he gives are super positive, filled with metaphors that anyone that’s not an architect, especially since he was definitely influenced by architects, would even understand. Wonderful book that I am already re-reading, but much slower this time around.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because it’s possible to live an extraordinary life.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I am writing a novel that takes place in LA in roughly 1965. It’s heavy on the Bogey-Bacall snappy dialogue.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
Music – I used to say poetry, but really it was the lyrics of songs like Gentle on My Mind and Crazy that got me reading poetry which led me to literature.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Meeting Karen Tse. She is the bravest woman I’ve ever met, and she’s five-feet tall.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
Aleph – by Paulo Coelho
What is your dream cast for your book?
For the new one? Keira Knightly (Nina Ferrer), Billy Crudup (CS), Joseph Feinnes (Nina’s husband), Bianca Kajlich (Summer), George Clooney (Mark Canfield),
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
For the current one – the theme from Rocky
For the work in progress – “A Taste of Honey” Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write – write – write. Be hard on yourself. Set high expectations, then exceed them. Don’t be in love with everything you write. Be a professional. Learn proper grammar, syntax and word usage, so you can take liberties, but know why you’re taking them. Read as often as possible.
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
Florence – The Renaissance
What is your favorite Quote?
“The great tragedy in life is not that we die, but what dies within us while we live.” Norman Cousins
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
George Clooney – so I could walk up to strangers and say, “You’ll never guess who’s playing me in a movie.” The last great movie star.
How did you know you should become an author?
It’s the only thing I do well.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Cormac McCarthy, Joan Didion, Paulo Coelho and did I mention Cormac McCarthy? I also like Pete Hamill.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
All of them
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
If you mean for a story idea, then my ideas aren’t too crazy. I write about what I feel and what see in the eyes of others.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I don’t listen to advice. It’s wrapped around someone else’s agenda. That being said, I used to drink more than uh, some other people, until I read a line in Pete Hamill’s “A Drinking Life.” He said, (and I might not have this exact, but I was hungover when I read it) “Drinking takes away two important things from a writer: memory and clarity.” That struck me – and may have saved my life.
Which authors have influenced you most and how?
William Zinsser has taught me to be cognizant of being concise, so has Jefferson Bates (“Writing With Precision”). Poets have taught me to love rhythm and McCarthy has taught me to take chances. I love great writing. It’s not just those that stir emotion, sometimes it’s just that a writer’s style makes the content accessible. In that regard I like the way Steven Johnson and Malcolm Gladwell write. It depends on my mood. When I want to laugh, I read Dave Barry.
What do you do in your free time?
Worry that I’m wasting it.
If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
“You’re Not Gonna Believe This But…”
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
I make coffee, eat and check emails. Then I work on whatever is pressing, such as a guest blog post or a profile from some spectacular woman I’ve interviewed. Then I consider going to the gym but successfully stall it until I’ve snacked and had more coffee. Eventually I go.
When I come back I’m feeling energized and I plan (consider) future writing ideas, blog posts, etc. Then I pop in my Fluenz Spanish language program and challenge my brain for an hour. The best time to learn something new is just after exercise so you can take advantage of neurogenesis. I truly believe, in all seriousness, that you can stave off much of the degenerative effects of aging by engaging your brain and forcing it to think, to challenge yourself. A better functioning brain will serve me in my research and writing.
In the afternoon I check back in with e-mails and plan my evening’s work.
I do most of my ‘heartfelt’ writing later at night, but before I get to that state I usually run through my social media sites to stay current and help friends by passing on and re-tweeting their work. I also use that time to solicit interviews.
I am often up until 2-230 AM. Mornings are for farmers.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Words have always touched me. Poets, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Trumbull Stickney, Langston Hughes, and Sydney Lanier among many others have always resonated with me. I was fascinated by how they could capture so much emotion with so few words.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Called my mother – who dies last week, btw, not to make you feel bad or anything. But I called her and then cracked open a bottle of Paul Hobbs cabernet.
Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
“Blood Meridian” by, you guessed it, Cormac McCarthy. It’s so profoundly violent in a primal way that it makes you wonder if that violence is within all humans. It makes you aware of doors to parts of the human psyche that you don’t want to admit exist, and makes you double-check the locks on those doors. I wish I could write something that can so deeply expose the primitive aspects of our species.
Favorite places to travel?
I’ve been to Rome, Florence, London, Aruba, Saigon, Paris, San Diego and San Antonio. I loved them all. I love to explore. It doesn’t matter where.
I bounce around a lot, but if I could only have one type, it would be the romantic classical composers like Debussy, Mendelsshon, Wagner, Bizet, Grieg, Sibelius, etc, etc. I like sweeping orchestral pieces, adagios and melodic work.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
There is a great Indie author I’d like to collaborate with, Jake Needham. He’s such a pro. I know I could learn from him.