By Kelley Carlson
Life’s paths often contain occasional bumps, but sometimes, a person will stumble upon a huge sinkhole.
Dr. Ken Druck, one of the nation’s pioneers in personal transformation, offers advice on how to deal with such obstacles in his new book, “The Real Rules of Life: Balancing Life’s Terms With Your Own.”
“This book is about how life really is,” Druck said. “When we get real, we move ahead, move forward ... we become a better, higher expression of ourselves.”
Each of the 23 chapters describes one of the “real” rules, and provides practical suggestions and exercises to cope.
“Some (exercises) are fun, and some are very revealing right to the core,” Druck said. “I make all the issues actionable.”
For example, in the chapter titled “Listening Is Love,” readers learn how and why it is important to tune in to others’ words and actions. They’re directed to an online “report card” to assess the effectiveness of their own skills; in turn, they can ask their friends and family to rate them, and then compare results.
In another section, labeled “There Are No Deals: Life’s Real Terms,” people come to terms with the fact that life always has its say, and sometimes they’re forced to go to Plan B, Druck said in an interview.
“We don’t get to play God,” he explained, and added the people must live with a sense of humility and flexibility.
At the end of the chapter, individuals must recall the “deals” they have made with life, and are then asked to seek an outside perspective.
The book is for anyone facing challenges and transitions; it could be relevant to people going through a divorce, a business failure, or parenting a child who is strung out on drugs. It’s also for those who have reached the point in their lives when it’s time for a change, such as starting a business they have always wanted, changing jobs, or drawing the line with family.
Druck said these rules apply equally to organizations, individuals, families, couples and communities.
“I thought I’d take the distilled essence of everything I’ve learned, how to survive significant life loss, and write a book,” he said.
The Del Mar resident drew much of his inspiration from his experience dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of his 21-year-old daughter, Jenna, in 1996. Jenna, a graduate of Torrey Pines High School, was killed in a bus accident in India while studying abroad with the Semester at Sea program.
“The death of my oldest daughter still defies words,” Druck said. “I had absolutely no map when my daughter died. Nothing prepared me.”
One of his ways to deal with the situation was to establish the Jenna Druck Center, which serves teen girls and bereaved families through the award-winning Families Helping Families and Spirit of Leadership programs.
Also in the book, Ken Druck includes anecdotes from people he has worked with during his 35 years as a coach and consultant. Among his specialty areas are male psychology, executive coaching, organizational consulting, parent effectiveness, healing after loss, and the art of turning adversity into opportunity. Druck has been featured numerous times in print and broadcast media — making appearances on programs such as “Oprah” and “Larry King Live” — and has received honors such as the Visionary Leadership, Distinguished Contribution in Psychology, and Family Advocate awards.
Over the years, Druck has met thousands of families struggling to deal with catastrophes such as 911, the Columbine (Colo.) and Santana (Santee) high school shootings, Hurricane Katrina and the San Diego wildfires.
In addition, he helped Chelsea King’s family through the ordeal of their daughter’s murder. In 2010, 17-year-old Chelsea disappeared after going for a run in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, and her lifeless body was later found next to Lake Hodges.
Druck said people from all over the world had been contacting him for help, so a couple of years ago, he began contemplating another way to touch more lives and hearts. He found that when he wrote, he reached many more individuals. Druck had previously penned books such as “The Secrets Men Keep” and “How to Talk to Your Kids About School Violence,” and had contributed to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.
Subsequently, he pulled back from day-to-day operations at the Jenna Druck Center and hired staff to help run the programs while he focused on a new publication.
Originally about 500 pages, “The Real Rules of Life” was cut down to just over 200 pages, Druck said. It “was written with the reader in mind to make it easy to read without a lot of psychobabble,” he said. “It’s very point-blank and truthful.”
The book was finally released May 15.
“It feels like a birthing,” Druck said. “The due date is here, and I really feel like it arrived on time. It’s time to send it out to the world, as it draws its first breath.
“I put my heart and soul into it,” he added.
Druck’s new book is a must-have for everyone’s library, said Martha Lawrence, executive editor at The Ken Blanchard Cos.
“I first read it when I was going through the darkest time in my life — my son, who’d been missing for more than two years, had recently turned up in a psychiatric hospital,” she said. “Ken’s book made me feel less alone in my despair and gave me hope that ‘this too, shall pass.’ Because Ken has lived through the worst — the death of his daughter — he writes with authority about turning tragedy into transformation. It’s one of the wisest books I’ve ever read.”
Now that his latest book has hit the shelves, Druck plans to conduct workshops and talk about “The Real Rules of Life.”
“I’ll be taking my message to different parts of the U.S. and world,” he said.
In addition, he plans to remain an active member of the San Diego community. Druck is still involved with the Jenna Druck Center, on a lesser scale, and he has been a part of the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth for 25 years. Another area of concern for him is youth violence prevention, for which he has created systems: “We’ve got to get real about the degree of violence,” he said.
Druck also co-founded Community Leaders for Youth with businessman, speaker and author Stedman Graham and Quantum Learning Network President Bobbi DePorter.
And Druck finds time for his family, which includes his “Earth daughter,” Stephanie, who lives in San Diego; his “angel daughter,” Jenna; and the 16,000 girls who have been a part of the Spirit of Leadership program at the Jenna Druck Center.
“I have spiritually adopted daughters everywhere,” Druck said of the diverse group. “They are all fiercely determined, wonderful, warm-hearted women who really ... make a positive difference.”
It’s a fulfilling life for the author.
“A broken heart doesn’t mean you can’t have a full heart,” Druck said. “My life is a testament to that — it’s full again — I’m whole and alive.”
His book “The Real Rules of Life,” which is listed for $24.95, is available in stores everywhere and through online sites such as Amazon.com; barnesandnobles.com; and Druck’s Web site, www.kendruck.com.
For more information about Druck and his new publication, go to his Web site or call (858) 863-7825.