Receive weekly summaries of top business books, lessons in leadership, and inspiration, for free.
The Greatness Guide
Published by HarperCollins
I love Robin Sharma’s messages. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read one book in the personal development arena or one-hundred; Sharma’s books always stand out as having a distinct flavor to them. If forced to put a name to that flavor, I’d call it “Authentic”.
Robin Sharma writes from the soul, and shares his insights with a sense of personal conviction that is rare. The Greatness Guide is arguably the finest example of that “honest conviction” to date. Written as 101, two page chapters, The Greatness Guide covers traditional topics like wealth, happiness and balance in a lighthearted and easily digestible format. Sharma draws from contemporary figures and events as examples of his eloquently penned points.
The World Needs More Heroes
While published almost three years ago, Sharma’s emphatic belief that “The world needs more heroes” (pg 220) is as poignant as ever. With the western world under political and financial duress, military tension simmering the world over and the global media determined to showcase the worst of all of it, now would be an extremely opportune time for a hero to step into the spotlight; someone to rescue us from it all. The question is, how do you define a hero? Perfection? Unshakable values and integrity? Wears a mask and a cape? For Sharma, the definition of a hero is quite simple:
“Heroes spend their days hunting for the best. They see the best amidst adversity. They see the best in others. They dig for the best in themselves. They claim their greatness. And in doing so, they get their best lives.”
The Greatness Guide, page 220
Heroes don’t happen by accident. They don’t stumble into the role and they aren’t just born with hero status. Heroes rise from those seeking the best. Active tense. They claim their greatness. They don’t inherit it. Becoming a hero, becoming great requires activity. So the question is, what are you doing?
The Person Who Experiences Most Wins
Whether you aspire to be a hero to the world, or simply a hero to your kids, greatness is gained by doing. So do lots. “Most people don’t take that many risks or have that many new conversations or read that many new books or take that many new travels” (page 129) Why is that? We know that our best memories, our best stories, our best emotions come when we challenge ourselves; when we embark on new adventures, take a deep breath and jump into life. A song by one of my favorite bands has a line “There’s more to living than being alive”. I have a feeling Sharma would agree. Sharma’s thought – “The person who experiences most wins.” (page 130) It doesn’t matter if you do it perfectly or not, whether you win or lose – who cares? So long as you get another experience to add to the inventory, you’re making progress.
People spend a big chunk of their lives trying to figure out what they want to do with it. I challenge you with this – you’re not going to figure it out through theory and speculation. You learn what you want from life by living life. Trial and error. Success and failure. Love and loss. These are the experiences that will bring you closer to understanding what it is you want to get out of life.
Yes, you need to take time to think. You need to take time for reflection and planning. Here’s the big thought – utilized effectively, this thinking time is an activity and experience unto itself. Just like checking your rearview mirror is a part of driving, conscious reflection and planning is a part of an active life. The optimal word there is conscious. Making conscious choices as to what your actions will be brings clarity to what you want to get out of life. “Clarity breeds success.” (page 130)
Commit to First Class
It’s one thing to take part in an activity; it’s another thing to do it well. I’m not talking about competition here, simply a matter of committing to engagement at the highest level. Sharma has an interesting (and potentially controversial) spin on “quality”. From his personal experience of working with a collection of extraordinarily successful people, Sharma has reached the conclusion that those who are committed to giving their best also surround themselves with the best. They wear the best clothes, they eat at the best restaurants, they drive the best cars. The fascinating part is that they did these even before they became successful. As Sharma says, “Rewarding yourself with good things sends a message to the deepest – and highest – part of you. One that says ‘I’m worth it – and I deserve it.” (page 180)
Sharma is quick to point out that he is not in any way suggesting that people rush out and get themselves in debt on a spending spree. He is, however, stating his personal belief that it’s better to buy something of quality once, than something for the cheapest price six times over. Money doesn’t buy happiness, we know that. Buying the best though gives you a good feeling. That’s just human nature. Treating yourself to the best is a message to yourself and the world that you maintain high standards in all you do.
“The best invest in the best.”
The Greatness Guide, page 181
So go visit the best restaurant in the city, even if it’s only to buy a $10 coffee. Experience the finer things in life. Enjoy them. Then use them as motivation.
The Greatness Guide is more than a catchy title. This book truly is an inspiration to the peoples of the twenty-first century; quick, simple stories, powerfully crafted with the gift of lasting impact. I recommend it to all, and encourage you to use it, at least in part, as a roadmap for your own path to greatness.