1-Sentence-Summary: Reinvent Yourself is a template for how to best adapt in a world in which the only constant is change, so that you may find happiness, success, wealth, meaningful work, and whatever else you desire in life.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
About six years ago, I saw a video about the history of work. It was called “All Work and All Play.“ The students who created it present an analysis of the nature of work for different generations of mankind. Starting with Baby Boomers, then Generation X, then Millennials, they demonstrated that the path towards a meaningful, successful career had changed. A lot.
Around the time the video was released, I also started reading James Altucher’s blog. His message was the same: There’s no guarantee anymore that you’ll rise through the ranks. Even if you earn a great degree, work hard and keep your head down. Instead, you have to choose yourself and carve your own, completely unique path in a chaotic world.
Reinvent Yourself is James’s template for creating that path. Since I’ve been following him, he’s written multiple bestsellers, started a successful podcast, launched an investment advisory service, and many things more. I can only tell from afar, but it sure seems like he’s living his own advice.
Here are my 3 favorite lessons from this book:
- Think back to your childhood to find something you enjoy, then do it daily.
- Use your pain productively by channeling it into your passion.
- Make decisions based on how much you’ll grow, not what you fear.
In today’s world, the only constant is change. Let’s learn how to not just survive, but thrive in it.
Lesson 1: Pick a passion from childhood and work on it every day.
Picasso is only the most famous example of how much it pays to work on your art every day: he created over 50,000 pieces in his lifetime. Stephen King has published close to 100 books, a lot of which have become bestsellers and turned into movies. Coolio wrote rap lyrics daily for 17 years before he landed the hit we all know him for, “Gangster’s Paradise.” Jimi Hendrix produced tracks for over 70 albums, even though he died at age 27.
The point is if you can make the time to work on something every day, you’re bound to find some degree of success with it in your lifetime. It doesn’t have to be a creative art, it could be any hobby or activity you enjoy. Just pick something and go, you’ll learn the rest along the way.
As for what to pick, you’ll find your childhood provides plenty of inspiration. What did you love growing up? What made you forget time? Even if it’s something impractical and ridiculous, it can at least provide a starting point. One person James interviewed remembered she’d loved making mud pies as a six-year-old. Many years later, she became a world-class pastry chef!
Lesson 2: Channel your pain into your passion.
Besides having a shot at making a living doing what you love, practicing your passion daily has many other benefits. The biggest one of all may be that you can now channel your own pain, negative emotions, and disappointments in a productive way.
For example, if you choose to write, but don’t know where to start, you could just begin with passionate essays about things that make you angry. Some of the most viral articles I know were rants about an injustice. Someone who did this very successfully was none other than world-famous rapper Eminem.
He grew up in one of the least favorable environments you could possibly imagine. His home life was unstable, he didn’t do well in school, was often bullied, and lived in poverty. But all of that became the fuel for his songs, which eventually helped him build a stellar career as a musician.
Even though we all have different lifestyles and complain on various levels, no one has a life that’s free of pain and suffering. If you can channel it into something that doesn’t just help you deal with it, but others too, it’ll be worth enduring.
Lesson 3: Make growth-based decisions, not fear-based ones.
A common problem in family businesses is that after the original founders succeed, they struggle to find worthy successors. Even if they keep the company strictly in the family’s hands, it might fail after just three generations. James says this happens because of a misalignment of values.
If your grandfather built a clothing store around customer service, but your father could barely maintain it because he was more of a product guy, of course you’ll have a tough time. Especially if your values are different yet again. To solve this problem, one of the family business owners James interviewed said in his family, the next generation must buy the business. Only then will they truly take ownership and actually reshape it in their own image. That’s the only way for a business to survive long-term.
Once you know your values, James suggests you should align all of your decisions with them. A simple question you can use to ensure this is: “Was my last decision fear-based or growth-based?” We often make choices out of fear, not in order to get what we want. For example, maybe you’re currently staying at a job you don’t like, just because you’re scared of finding a new one!
Constantly unmasking your fears and then growing around your true values is one of the best ways to Reinvent Yourself.
My personal take-aways
James’s writing is easy to digest, fun, practical and inspiring. Reinvent Yourself is one of several in his rather new Choose Yourself series. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up to encourage yourself to continue finding a life and career you love, this is it!
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How to find a mentor and get their attention
- Why Google isn’t the company you think it is
- Where you can find relentless determination to achieve your goals
- What the Pope does to remind us to practice kindness
- Why being broke is actually an advantage
Who would I recommend the Reinvent Yourself summary to?
The 39 year old lawyer, who isn’t happy in his profession, the 67 year old retiree, who thinks it’s too late to pick up writing, and anyone who makes most of their decisions to stay safe and avoid risk.