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Start.: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters Hardcover – April 22, 2013
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About the Author
Jon Acuff has authored three books, including the Wall Street Journal best-seller Quitter, which has helped thousands of people close the gap between their day jobs and their dream jobs. In 2010, Jon joined the Dave Ramsey team as a full-time author and speaker. Jon’s wildly popular blog, StuffChristiansLike.net, has more than 4 million readers worldwide and was the inspiration for his first book, Stuff Christians Like, published by Zondervan. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonacuff and online at jonacuff.com.
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It started well enough, but as chapter turned into platitude stuffed chapter, the eye rolling increased and the hope of a helpful book diminished. Basically, you have a guy who has moderate success for a few short years holed up in an office banging out an outline of how to be "awesome" even though he really hasn't done all that much himself. Most of the book isn't "wrong", but merely common sense ideas put into an outline and then expanded with personal experiences, cherry-picked studies and made-up platitudes about being awesome.
Wanna "Start"? Be prepare to write lists. There are lists of lists that he wants you to write down. Write down your abilities and assets. Write down your goals and dreams. Is this practical? Probably. Someone who sits down and does this will be encouraged to "start." After all, making a list is itself defined as "starting." Is making lists a ground-breaking idea or worthy of its own book? Are the lists he suggests more insightful than the lists suggested by thousands of other motivational book authors? Hardly. Hardly.
The author tries to protect himself from flaws in his logic or methods by using self-deprecating humor to point out that he isn't perfect. For instance, he mocks (accurately) such pithy, worthless statements we all seem to associate with motivational speakers like "Step out in faith" and "Follow your dreams and the universe will open doors...". This gives you the false hope that maybe THIS guy actually understands the frustration of listening to such nonsense. However, the author then proceeds to fill the book with his own, made up nonsense statements: "Don't focus on accomplishments, focus on awesome!" and "Chase your awesome!" and "Action always beats intention." (no duh. Sounds great though.)
Of course, the emperor wears no clothes. Merely mocking other's pithy statements, does not give you license to spew your own with immunity.
Amazon negative reviewers are "haters". Nothing constructive could possibly be gained from them. "Ignore the .004%!" is his message, repeated a couple of times in the book. Yet, there is one thing clear. The author will read this review. That much is very clear from his repeated references to Amazon reviews in this book: Asking for them; Counting them; Calculating percentages with them.
Unfortunately, listening to the audio version of this robs me of the satisfaction of throwing the book at a wall.
I guess one thing that really caused me to take this book with a grain of salt, is that the author admits that in 2007(ish) he was just a nobody who started working hard and after coming up with a popular blog idea, he did some speeches and was "found" by Dave Ramsey, who took a chance on giving him a job. That is his story. He mentions from going from giving speeches to just tens and hundreds of people before he met Dave to giving speeches to thousands after Dave put his power behind him. Now he is bestowing upon us minions the secrets of his great success.
To his credit, he admits this in the book, and even turns it into a point: you should stand on the shoulders of giants (in his case, Ramsey, of course, though I recall he initially says in the book that his "giant" is his father who is a preacher. That's nice and all melty inside my heart.)
But seriously, does anyone think that the author would be bestselling (should that or should it not have a hyphen?) without Ramsey? Even he admits no, crediting Ramsey as well as his father. However, he also takes credit for his own success in reference to the years (2-3? between 2007 and 2010 approximately) of work he did before Ramsey noticed him as the reason he was picked as the "chosen" one. The following quote isn't actually the author's, but it does convey the attitude dripping from the pages (or in my case, car speakers): "Yes, Ramsey put me over the top, but he picked me because I was such a busy little bee, and he saw my awesome potential. Me. Yes. I am awesome. He took a chance but really, he couldn't help himself. Any really smart man would have done the same thing. I mean, really! Look at me! You should try to be like me. Awesome. Maybe, maybe, you can. If you work hard and make lists. Like me. Awesome. Road to Awesome. More Awesome."
I am not giving this one star. That would be for just rotten ideas or obvious lies (mistakes like saying Terrell Owens caught over 1000 touchdowns (he didn't) I will give the benefit of the doubt and chalk up to bad editing)and as I indicated, these aren't horrible ideas, just common, every-day ideas badly presented.
I will give it something worse. Three stars. Because three stars is average. And that is where this book falls.
The tagline for this book gives ridiculous expectations to the reader:
Punch Fear in the Face
Do Work that Matters
I'll be honest: when I read that I thought to myself, "I wonder if Mr. Acuff has promised more than he can deliver." Okay, I didn't actually think "Mr. Acuff," but I'm trying to be polite since this is a review and all. At any rate, after finishing the book, I can tell you that Jon does deliver on these promises. If you read this book, you will learn to get aggressive with fear. You will see how to transcend the average day, the average work, the average life. You will have a path to do work that matter, because it will matter to you.
If you are looking for a secret formula, this book won't give it to you. Like Mr. Ping teaches Po in Kung Fu Panda, there is no secret sauce. The secret, if there is one, is to hustle, and that's no surprise. There are predictable hurdles that will come at every stage of progression toward do the work you want to do. Jon identifies the stages of awesome as: learning, editing, mastering, harvesting and guiding.
The best news in this book is that you don't have to wait until your 60 to guide, like future generations would. The tools of social media and the internet have shortened the wait for recognition as an expert. You can start the road to awesome now. Today. This moment:
The starting line is the only line you completely control. The start is the only moment you're the boss of. The finish? Don't kid yourself. That's months, if not years, away. You are going to meet dozens of people who are going to impact your finish. You are going to have countless opportunities, experiences, and challenges that dot the map of awesome you're following. There are cliffs and rivers and jungles you can't begin to fathom. You are going to stand on a mountaintop that is better than anything you ever dreamed and laugh at the idea that you thought you could plot out your finish. The start? You own that, son. That's yours.
With this crescendo of enthusiasm, Jon Acuff walks us through the map to the land of awesome. He shares practical guidance that is battled tested from his own travels. He includes plenty of stories from his own failures and successes to fill in the detail for the guidance he provides.
Most recent customer reviews
I highly recommend this book, but I no fluff just actual info on going from average to awesome.