Helen Keller once noted that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
Too many of us start out truly believing in this as we make plans for trips around the world (after graduation of course), and then we make plans for daring adventures (after we get a good job of course) and then we make plans to save up (for a nice house of course) and then we make plans for funeral.
We lose our sense of adventure over time because it becomes the normal thing to do. But there is nothing normal about a life of adventure.
Josh Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein (notes below), talks about anchoring our memories with life experiences. When we do this, our life seems longer and more fulfilled, since we are able to easily look back at these anchors as we age. When we stop creating anchors, our life will seem shorter and less fulfilling, regardless of how long we actually live.
The bottom line: attack life like an adventure.
♦ How to Fight a Hydra by Josh Kaufman. Author of one of the most useful books on business, Kaufman explores the fundamental truths about productivity in a sort of tale about fighting a hydra. What Kaufman discovered is that most people already understand how to be more productive, yet the inability to achieve our daily goals haunts even the most diligent. Life’s work is comparable to fighting a hydra: it is a process that requires commitment and constant awareness, an evolution that shapes you into the hero you want to become. Yet, it is never ending process, since becoming a hero is only part of the journey.
Kaufman’s main point: approach the unknown/challenges/life like that of an adventurer, since every field of work has the same variables, variability, and complexities: “Instead of being paralyzed by fear and doubt, they develop their skills and abilities, apply them to the task at hand, and commit themselves to the work until it is complete.”
♦ Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. As a journalist, Foer captures his time training for the USA World Memory Championship and his subsequent thrust into the world of memory training. Known as “Mental Athletes,” world-class memorizers draw on ancient techniques to master impressive feats of memory. Foer also delves deep into the science of expertise and learning and divulges a multitude of puzzle pieces regarding the human mind as part of his quest to become the best mental athlete in the USA.
♦ Relentless by Julian Edelman. An undersized and underrated QB from Kent State rises to become the top wide receiver on history’s most prolific offense and winningest franchise. A few very important lifestyle factors made this possible: (1) Environment: Edelman comes from a competitive environment with lots of opportunities for development, (2) Work Ethic: which I talk about in this post.
♦ Art Matters by Neil Gaiman. Art is everything and it is everywhere. When you create something, you are an artist. When you look at the world with an artist’s mind, you are forever a creator. It doesn’t have to be something that is traditional art to be artistic; you can be a blog artist, you can be artful in the way you accumulate knowledge, or you can see yourself as an artist at work in the way you interact with people and the environment. Gaiman talks about art in a way that others can truly appreciate and his passion for discovery and creation shine through:
I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work. Which meant life did not feel like work. – Neil Gaiman
♦ The World’s Fittest Book by Ross Edgley. I was really looking forward to this book because of Edgley’s physical accomplishments in endurance. He did things like walk a marathon while pulling a car, climb a rope enough times to reach the peak of Mount Everest and most recently, swim around Britain with a 100-lb. log in tow. These acts of endurance have created a sort of “world’s strongest endurance athlete” aura, not to mention that he is absolutely shredded at all times. I’ve heard on him on the London Real podcast and he is a nice, well-spoken athlete/fitness expert. However, this book was a letdown in many ways. Rather than simply talking about his accomplishments and how he trained for them, he does a poor job of trying to mix in tonnes of research in a very unorganized method. It’s hard to read and it’s not very entertaining either. He tries a subheading of ‘How to Train for Anything & Everything, Anywhere & Everywhere’ which really wasn’t the point of the book at all.
♦ The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki. Kiyosaki is famous for his Rich Dad Poor Dad series of books and his creation of the cashflow quadrant.
The idea behind the cash flow quadrant is an important one for entrepreneurs to learn and understand. You want to establish a passive income that continues to generate money at all hours of the day, regardless if you are physically working or not. The same goes for investing, money starts working for you and not the other way around. However, this book was made for network marketers and it seems like it was designed specifically to hand out to others below a person’s growing pyramid.
♦ Poke the Box by Seth Godin. In a similar vein to Pressfield’s Turning Pro, Godin produces a book on starting things. That’s it. Page after page of insights into starting, whether alone or in an organization, just keep starting. As a keen business thinker, this advice seems simplistic, but it’s also an eye-opener. To succeed in business, you need to keep starting.
Starting as a way of life… Once the habit is ingrained and you become the starter, the center of the circle, you will find more and more things to notice, to instigate, and to initiate. Momentum builds and you get better at generating it. If you go to bed at night knowing that people are expecting you to initiate things all day the next day, you wake up with a list. And as you create a culture of people who are always seeking to connect and improve and poke, the bar gets raised. – Seth Godin
In Pursuit of Excellence
Subscribe below for more book reviews and recommendations.