I do a lot of public speaking and no matter if I’m in front of real estate agents, hardware store owners, top level executives or social media devotees I often get asked how I got to where I am today in my career. I know that they are hoping for a shortcut or secret bit of magic that I might be able to share with them so that they can achieve all of their goals, but my answer is always the same: Hard work and defining my own path.
Now, of course the headline is me being a bit cheeky, but I had a feeling it would get your attention. With all my travel, I do a lot of reading and recently have been consuming a variety of books that I hate to call “self help” and yet I don’t have a better genre for them. I’ve heard them called everything from leadership, to management, to motivational books.
I haven’t been able to come up with a better description, but when I talk to friends I usually refer to them as “dangerous books” because after reading them you are guaranteed to be hyped up and ready to take on the world. Past reads that I labeled in this way have lead me to quit a job, write a book and begin the most ambitious project of my career. You’ve been warned. So proceed with caution because I don’t know what they may do in your life. Seth Godin’s The Domino Project is trying to change the way authors get their written words in the hands of the audience who crave to read them. While their first book written by Seth himself Poke The Box was a great read, their second title Do the Work! by Steven Pressfield just came out and focuses directly on taking an idea and turning it into something.
The focus is how our biggest enemy is resistance and how the only way to succeed is to beat resistance. There will always be obstacles, doubters and worries that will try to prevent you from being successful. But, those of us who can dig down, plan and push past the resistance are the ones that will ultimately find success.
Again, not a magic formula, but Mr. Pressfield does lay out tactics and strategies that anyone can adopt along with working hard to get the work done. As I read this book waiting to pick up my mother from Easter Sunday Mass, I found myself starting on some of the tasks for a project I’ve been thinking about for far too long and not doing enough work on. See, this is why I call them dangerous!
Another recent read that I believe fits into my category of being dangerously awesome is Evil Plans from Hugh MacLeod. A survivor of the Madison Avenue advertising machine, Hugh now finds himself living the life of his dreams creating art every day. He believes everyone should be creating whatever art it is that they crave to create every day and that in order to achieve this you need your own individual evil plan to make it happen.
While it is fun and adventurous to throw caution to the wind and hit the open road without any clear destination, this is not the most practical advice for you and your team who want to succeed. Asking questions up front along the lines of how will we know when we get there and where do we want to go are important.
Hugh might focus on how individuals can develop plans to escape their current unhappy work situations, I firmly believe that his approach can work for any project that you or your team might be working on. But, without a plan to define where you are trying to go, no amount of work will lead to success. You must have both.
Mark is an LA based author and creative who has lived the life a new media rockstar for longer than most have dreamed about it. He has written numerous screenplays and books of fiction, but there is nothing but hard hitting reality in this book. He is also a close Friend and trusted adviser.
Focused on the fact that all we need to do is look in the mirror to realize who is standing in the way of our success, this short yet effective kick in the pants reads as one big pep talk to get us out of any creative or career funk we might find ourselves in.
When Mark first contacted me to read a draft of it, I couldn’t put it down and once again found myself questioning recent decision of my own to not be making a few of my ideas into full blown successful projects.
I share these three books with you in the hopes that they can help you break out and be awesome. Too often I think these type of books get a bad rap because they focus on individuals, but if a whole team was to read them together I know that amazing things would happen.
Please remember that no amount of reading is going to save your career, project or company. None of these books (or any book that I know of) is going to give you the just add water recipe for success.
As I said earlier it all boils down to hard work that has to get done by someone. Might as well be you right?
Go forth and be awesome!