I will admit that I am not much of a reader of self-help/transformation books. The preamble for most of them starts off with, "Do you like the way things are going in your life?" Perhaps that's a cynical judgement call on my part, but I've never been wrong so far when dealing with books that fall into that category. The Imposter, however, is not like that. It is in a different league, because it possesses tidbits of the memoir genre, positive psychology, science, religious awakening, recovery, business, ethics, difficult choices, et cetera. The language is straightforward, and the simplicity mirrors that of how most young adult novels are fashioned. The potency of The Imposter lies in its intentness, for the honesty is palpable.
What I liked about this book is that the author-Kip Kreiling-is the proof of what he's written about. His life is the testimony. He details the step-by-step process of his own transformation from vicious, often drug-induced juvenile criminal who would blatantly show his gun as one would a middle finger in a moment of rage, to a successful, philanthropic businessman with a happy marriage and a loving family. That is a stark and unlikely contrast indeed, for statistics often show that when a person is treading on the road of criminal rebellion, they stay on the trail of criminal defiance, often to the bitter end to permanent imprisonment or even worse. That, for the most part, is often the criminal's only consistency. Hence, what was the turnaround? First, at 17 years-of-age, it was a religious conversion to his Mormon faith, a profound happening that graced him with the gift of quitting hardcore drugs cold turkey. It allowed him to see the woundedness in others as he himself was wounded, thus transforming his circular perception-with heightened depth-of his environment and everything contained therein. But even when a religious conversion happens, it does not make all things easy squeezy lemon easy, as they say. If anything, it creates only the foundation, not the walls and roof. Often, people are grateful for the radical change for the better, despite the fact that they really had nothing to do with it. So, it leaves them with the question, What now? In Kip's case, even though he consciously didn't want to, he reverted back to his crippling bad habits via the aid of a co-worker at a limo service nicknamed Mean Irene and her friend crystal meth. And the addictive cycle started all over again. Gradually and with much struggle and hard work, he climbed out of this, too, and garnered a new enlightenment. Though he never doubted his religious conversion that started him on to the path of health and betterment, he knew that he could not change himself for religion alone. He had to change himself for him and his own individual worth. And in The Imposter, Kip showcases that one positive transformation often leads to another. It is not easy, and he makes no bones about it; he himself would attest that he was the lab rat for that evolution. Aside from himself, however, he offers historical transformative examples, citing specifically Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, two truly compelling case studies. And while religion is often a catalyst for improved lives, it does not have a monopoly on that. Even as a stand-alone, money can be a reason why people change and not religion. Read chapters five and six for further elaboration. The causes for improved change have a wide spectrum and Kip cites what he believes were his personal impulses. Yet, he offers a plethora of instances whereby the reader simply can't help but ponder to what degree and what level of quality he or she is fully living their life. Through his own life development, he is offering a microscope of self analysis for others. The reader has to do the hard work.
At the beginning of The Imposter, the scene is set at a high end restaurant frequented by CEOs, COOs, CFOs and other folks in the upper echelons of the business world; people are at ease, comforted, comfortable and confident. Because they were blessed to have a unified, loving, organized and structured upbringing, they possessed all the necessary ingredients to later lift them to the pinnacles of business success. Kip Kreiling did not have that. He had chaos, inconsistency, violence and hard-bitten cynicism imbued into him, components that very rarely catapult a person to any kind of success. Yet, he managed to sit in that restaurant among the elite. And though he privately doubted whether he really belonged there, whether he was in actuality an imposter with a nice suite, degree and salary, deep down, he knew otherwise. He envisioned something better and worked hard for it. The Imposter is not a typical "self-help" book, a genre I normally dislike. It is a book of constructive insights learned through the school of hard knox, tenacity as well as a sundry of epiphanies.