Principal enters world of publishing
Mill Valley High Principal Joe Novak said he would never suggest people lead stress-free lives.
"There's a saying that one person's stress is another person's zest," he said. "A life free of stress is death."
But, as Novak said his staff knows all too well, he is a firm believer in managing stress.
"Stress is life, but stress itself will kill you," said Novak, who spent 10 years as principal of DeSoto High before moving to Mill Valley this year. "What I have written is a guide to reducing and managing the damage."
ESP Wise Publications of Davis, Calif., recently published Novak's first book, "Maxercising Your Greatest Potential: A Stress Management and Wellness Guide for Education."
The book, Novak said, is an extension of the doctoral dissertation he wrote on the subject 10 years ago and the seminars he has given since.
"I've been presenting wellness and stress management seminars for 10 years," he said. "People always asked me if I'd written a book.
"I'm not a writer. Finally, my wife, Dena, convinced me to put down on paper what I had in my head."
He was helped in that effort by Sherry Sullivan of DeSoto, who copy edited his 135-page manuscript, and illustrator Amy Lowe, a Mill Valley High art teacher.
The book uses the experiences of educators to make its points, but Novak said the advice it offers is universal. Novak said he is influenced by Stephen Corey, the author of "The Seven Principles of Highly Effective People," and Og Mandino, author of "The Greatest Miracle in the World." Like their work, Novak said his book relies on common-sense solutions we all know.
"People read this and say, 'I could write that,'" he said. "We could all write this, but we don't live it."
The key to Novak's system is REPELE, which is an acronym for the reactive, proactive and life-active styles of stress management and wellness training. The meanings of the reactive and proactive styles are self-evident, and refer to coping strategies we can use when confronted with stressful situations or in preparation to their inevitable appearance.
By live-active practice, Novak means increasing well being by becoming involved with the community.
"Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of life," he said.
The book's publication was only the first part of the battle, Novak found. It is now up to him to market the 2,500 copies printed in its first run without the backing of the powerhouse marketing support provided by large publishing firms.
"I can say 'I've got the book published' and rest on that, or I can take the time to market this," he said. "I can't count on anyone but me. My job now is to maxercise the book's marketing.
"I'm learning something about publication and marketing every day."