The Carpenter

"Before you build a masterpiece you must design it. It’s the same with life, you know. Too many people go through life living by chance, but when you live by design and know the life you want to create, you are able to create a masterpiece instead of a piece of junk."

- The Carpenter, page 19

Best-selling author Jon Gordon does it again with his book The Carpenter. This fun, inspiring story is about the greatest success strategies of all, which can be applied to any business owner, leader, sports team, coach or parent.

Jon Gordon imparts these principles of success through the story of the main character Michael, and the struggles he has with his business, his family, and his health.

It starts out with Michael experiencing a traumatic health scare, where a local carpenter who goes by the name of “J.” happens to save his life. After his recovery, he finds J. to thank him for his generosity and quickly becomes fascinated by the town’s beloved carpenter.

Ironically, Michael needs a new entertainment center and hires J. to build one. This is the start of a true mentorship where the carpenter teaches Michael his personal secrets to success in business and in life. Throughout the story, J. touches upon various topics including: Vision, leadership, sales, marketing, mentorship, value creation, serving others, relationship building, and purpose.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Design Your Masterpiece

"Just remember that simple does not mean easy. You still have to take action."
- The Carpenter, page 23

My biggest take away from The Carpenter was the concept of beginning with the end in mind. So often we get caught up in the busyness of our jobs, our families, and everything else that is going on in our lives that we end up going along for the ride instead of being intentional about how we’re living.

This point is illustrated when J. is talking to Michael about the importance of designing the entertainment center before he starts to build. Through this dialogue, he starts to discuss how it’s important to live our lives in the same manner. He begins to ask Michael some compelling questions:

  • What does your life look like when you are at your healthiest, strongest, and best?
  • What does your family situation look like while you are pursuing success in your work?
  • Are you ignoring the people you love the most or making more time for them?
  • What are you doing that makes you come alive?
  • When you look back on life what do you want to be able to say about it?
  • What will you have wanted to accomplish?
  • What legacy will you have left?

While these questions are certainly thought-provoking and relatively straightforward, having the discipline to answer them and structure your life to work to attain them is difficult. This becomes the carpenter’s challenge to Michael: to lead his life by knowing what his end game ultimately is.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life


"I expect great things to happen today."
- The Carpenter, page 38

A consistent message throughout The Carpenter is what you believe to be true will become what is true. Truly, our minds are the most powerful and intricate “computers” on the planet and we must constantly program our mind and thoughts through talking to ourselves in a positive, encouraging manner.

J. gives Michael great advice in saying “I want to encourage you to talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself. It’s a powerful tool to build your success.”

This is common advice in the professional development world; you will become what you feed your mind and I firmly believe it to be true. J. gives Michael a list of positive affirmations to say on a daily basis:

  • I expect great things to happen today
  • I trust in God’s plans for my life
  • I accept all of the love, joy, abundance and success in my life
  • I accept all the people who work with me and benefit from my gifts and love
  • Every day I am getting stronger, healthier and better

Go ahead and give them a try.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The Gift of Failure

"It’s what we do after we fail that determines what we build in the long run."
- The Carpenter, page 95

We’ve all failed at something. It’s ultimately, what we do after we get knocked down that defines us. J. works to paint this picture after Michael’s business doesn’t become a success right away. J. shares stories with him about how some of the most successful people throughout history have experienced great failures: Steve Jobs being fired from Apple, Walt Disney fired from a newspaper for a lack of ideas, Oprah fired as a news anchor and told she was not fit for TV.

J. has a different viewpoint on failure, saying that it can be a gift if you are willing to learn, grow, and improve because of it. It gives you the opportunity to evaluate how bad you really want something. He says to Michael, “Whatever path failure guides you toward, it is always meant to give you a big serving of humble pie that builds your character, gives you perspective, grows your faith, and makes you appreciate your success later on.”

This is great advice. We all have the ability to control how we react to various situations in our lives and failure is no different. It can be the end of a pursuit or it can be the wake up call to course correct, dig a little deeper and find a way to succeed.

I really enjoyed The Carpenter and am quickly becoming a big fan of Jon Gordon. His writing style is easy to read and he does a great job of expressing various learning principles through an entertaining story format. The Carpenter is a great book with a holistic outlook on what it takes to be successful in all areas of your personal and professional life. There’s a great quote near the end of the book saying: “the success you create now is temporary, but the legacy you leave is eternal.”

I’ll leave you by asking, what kind of legacy are you leaving behind?

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Justin Gasbarre

ABOUT Justin Gasbarre

I am a Sales Professional who's passionate about helping and serving others. I currently work as an Enterprise Client Partner with FranklinCovey and consult with executives, business unit leaders, and human resources professionals to help them build their organizational talent...
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