Cloud: Reclaim Life, Achieve Success

Henry Cloud, One Life Solution

Henry Cloud.  2008. The One-Life Solution:  Reclaiming Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success.  New York:  HarperCollins.

Reviewed By Stephen W. Hiemstra

I cannot ignore any book by Henry Cloud. Back in 2003, my pastor preached a sermon based on Cloud’s earlier book called: Boundaries. The sermon interested me enough that I bought and read the book. Applying prescriptions from the book to my life led me to perceive my call into pastoral ministry.


The One-Life Solution is a book focused on constructing and developing better boundaries at work (19). Cloud observes that most people get caught up trying to control the things outside their control. Things like other people, circumstances, or outcomes. Meanwhile, they lose control of themselves (22). In this context, Cloud defines a boundary as a property which defines where you end and someone (or something) else begins (25).

Six Key Areas

In a work environment, Cloud sees boundaries bringing order to six key areas: 1. Ownership, 2. Control, 3. Freedom, 4. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences, 5. Limits, and 6. Protection (25-30). Interestingly, these six areas do not lend structure to the discussion that follows. Rather, the book mostly focuses on applying boundaries to establish structure and reduce anxiety.

A Henry Cloud Audit

Cloud suggests that a good place to start is with an audit. The purpose of this audit is to measure where you spend your time, disconnects between time spent and personal values, and what personal issues contribute to the problem (69).  This method of analysis is reminiscent of what Miller and Rollnick (2002, 38) referred to as gap analysis–highlighting the discrepancy between present behavior and …broader goals and values.


An important point in assessing books with the character of movie sequels is: does the sequel add value to the initial book? Here the answer is yes. Henry Cloud’s The One-Life Solution contributed real value to my understanding of boundaries. For Cloud the key was seeing examples of how to manage difficult office situation with tact and grace. My favorite example recalls an obnoxious CEO who laid into him everyday at his desk at 4 p.m., which ruined his evening as well as his day. Cloud (152) simply made a rule not to talk to him after 4 p.m. I had a supervisor very much like that.


Cloud, Henry and John Townsend. 1992. Boundaries: When to Say YES; When to Say NO; To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Miller, William R. and Stephen Rollnick. 2002. Motivational Interviews: Preparing People for Change. New York: Guilford Press.

Cloud: Reclaim Life, Achieve Success

Also see:

Cloud and Townsend Set Limits; Heal Relationships; Gain Control 

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Shaken and Stirred

ShipOfFools_web_10042015Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law 
he meditates day and night. (Ps 1:1-2 ESV)

Shaken and Stirred

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Seventh grade was different.

Instead of having a teacher, a classroom, and a desk, you had a bell and a locker. When the bell rang, you moved from one class to another. Because of the constant motion, you couldn’t leave your books and stuff in your desk so books, notes, and personal items were stored in the locker.

School started with a bell.

Before the bell, we lined up outside the doors and just waited. At one point, friends and I went in early to drop off and pick up things in our locker but the vice principal (VP) caught us. He slammed one of our lockers shut and we took off running—no body wanted to be caught by the VP.

All day screams could be heard coming out of the VP’s office. He spent the day wandering the halls, catching rule breakers, and reminding them of the rules with a paddle that hung on his wall.

I never visited the VP’s office, but in fourth grade I visited the principal’s office.

My trip to the principal’s office started when Michael and his gang grabbed my kickball at recess. A bloody fight broke out between me, Michael, and his gang over the ball. It was unfortunate because Michael, who used to be a friend and a good student in third grade, gave up on his studies when he started hanging with this gang. Later in middle school, he carved wooden knives in shop and threatened everyone, even the teacher. In high school, he entered juvenil detention never to return. But, that day in fourth grade—when Michael and his gang grabbed my kickball—we were sent us to the principal’s office together a bloody mess. After the nurse cleaned us up, we were all sent home.

No, I never visited the VP’s office. I learned to keep the rules, not the VP, but from Mr. B.

I remember Mr. B’s civics class, in part, because he wore a crew cut and told great stories—but that is not the main reason why I remember Mr. B’s civics class.

One day while Mr. B was writing on the board I shot a spit ball at a guy and it landed at Mr. B’s feet. Now, Mr. B must have been having a bad day because he went nuts. He turned around, grabbed the student in front of me, picked him up by the shoulders, and shook him like a rag doll. For the rest of the period, nothing more was said; the class was silent.

Now silence can be golden. At a time when so much hung in the balance, I gave up on spit balls and didn’t need any longer to be reminded of the rules.

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