Book Review: “Put Your Potatoes on the Desktop” by Ralph Sinn

Reviewed by Pamela Bosworth, Leadership Development Coordinator

“This book has to do with learning about your emotions. When you learn the difference between the destructive and constructive mindset of understanding your negative emotions, including anger, then you are free to add a sense of self-control to the knowledge you gain regarding the emotions you feel”, so states the author of this book (Sinn, 2009, p. 3).

Learning about emotions finds its biblical basis in 2 Peter 1:5-8.  This book springboards from that biblical basis into subjects such as defining anger; delving into three destructive anger management methods before arriving at the constructive method of forgiveness; and finally discovering the freedom of choice found in the model of forgiveness that he proposes.

Dr. Sinn states, “The potato represents a concept of right versus wrong, or injustice, that you find yourself in the presence of”.  He goes on to say, “The heat of the potato represents your emotions, which draw your attention to the fact that you are dealing with a potato.  It follows that anger management consists of what you will do with the potato in your grasp” (Sinn, 2009, p.59). The author concludes that our individual notions of right versus wrong or our sense of law, truth, or justice (our potatoes) must be taken out of the bag that we often stuff and carry around on our backs. Once removed, these potatoes can be placed on our desktop and through the understanding of our emotional relationship to them they can be handled from a constructive mindset.

This book provides exactly what it says it does, “a practical approach to emotion intelligence”, and it requires a bit of stick-to-itiveness if the reader desires to mine the gems found within its pages.  The author himself admonishes the reader to read the book by starting at the first chapter and progressing through the book in sequence to gain as broad an understanding as possible about the concepts discussed. The applicability of the book appealed to me through the homework assignments suggested for each concept.  I was also extremely appreciative that the author took time to provide the biblical relevance surrounding each approach he offered.

Leaders in every field are called upon to handle conflicts that arise as a result of individuals who operate out of destructive mindsets.  These destructive mindsets result “in possible consequences such as low self esteem, addictions, depression, anxiety, abusive outbursts, bullying, loneliness, and stress-related medical illness” (cover). From a biblical perspective, leaders who increase their understanding of emotion intelligence, the development of the constructive mindset, and the practical as well as biblical applications of this subject, will find it to be of great value in their ministry work of conflict management and negotiation.

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