You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional LIfe by Neil Pasricha

You Are Awesome

You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha offers excellent advice that we can all use to have a more fulfilled and productive life. The advice here is appropriate for people in business, educators, and students alike. In short, everyone. Be sure to get some copies for your professional development library and get one for yourself.

Introduction: You Need to be More Resilient

  • It starts with a very cool fable that demonstrates the notion of resilience. The key is to not let defeats define who you are. Every end is a beginning. Resilience seems to be in short supply, which is why Neil wrote this book. He offers nine research-backed secrets, shared through personal stories on how we can move from shattering to strengthening. If you find yourself off course, this book is for you.

Secret #1 – Add a Dot Dot Dot

  • The dot dot dot here is known as an ellipsis which marks incomplete utterances in plays. Compare this to a period known as a full stop, which marks a finished sentence. Neil uses the ellipsis as a metaphor for life were everything is unfinished until you die. He uses the inspirational story of his mother, born the fifth girl in Kenya to a family who wanted a fourth boy. She was self-taught and got the highest score in the nation’s standardized test, which earned her a full scholarship to a white prep school. She just kept going like an ellipsis and looked past the periods.
  • The other key lesson here is that like Neil’s mom, the one word you should use over and over at the end of your sentence is yet. As is “I don’t have any better options…yet.”

Secret #2 – Shift the Spotlight

  • It’s egotistical to think that “it’s all about you.” It’s foolish to think that people are constantly looking and you and judging you. It’s folly to think the spotlight is on you because it isn’t. Stop caring with other people who are self-absorbed think of you. There is so much beyond your control that you need to simply learn from your failures and move on. Share your failures with others as it will help you seem more human. You will seem more normal, real, and relatable, which will help improve your relationships. If you make self-harming statements you are likely to believe them. Also, avoid exaggerating the size of your problems.

Secret #3 – See It as a Step

  • If you think of life as a long stairway you need to realize that you can see the steps taken but the upcoming steps are invisible. Also, realize that we are all really bad a predicting the future. People think that they have changed a lot in the past, but won’t change much in the future. This is probably wrong. When people are down, they often think they will probably stay there. This is the wrong way to think. See failure as a step towards a future that you will be happy with. Neil also recommends that you avoid the endless reports of bad news that our modern media doles out. It’s largely a machine-gun barrage of superficial negativity. He also found that writing a blog was cathartic as it helped him swap dark thoughts for lighter ones. For him, it was the dot dot dot, a shift of the spotlight, and the next step. When you fail, just prepare for this next step, which might be positive.

Secret #4 – Tell Yourself a Different Story

  • Shame is an intensely painful feeling or experience that we are flawed and unworthy of love or belonging. It plays a role in how we think of ourselves. Your problem is the story you are telling yourself and you can choose another story like you can choose your attitude. Three questions can help. 1. Will this matter on my death bed? 2. Can I do something about this? 3. Is this a story I am telling myself?

Secret #5 – Lose More to Win More

  • Some good things just take time. They take lots of failure, lots of loss, and lots of experience. Wanting to get better is a real gift. It means you keep trying, failing, and learning. If your number of failures exceed those of most people you should be proud of that. Cy Young had the most wins and the most losses. Nolan Ryan had the most strikeouts and the most walks. The more times you step to the mound the more chances you have to win. Go to parties where you don’t know people. Have a failure budget. Can you afford to lose hundreds on something that fails? How about thousands or more? More losses give you more chances to win. If you want good pictures, take more pictures.

Secret #6 – Reveal to Heal

  • Physical releases are easier than mental releases. Take time to let go of something and take time to feel grateful and write down at least five gratitudes a week.

Secret #7 – Find Small Ponds

  • Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? If you choose the former your self-esteem will go up and stay up. Neil got this advice from a dean so instead of applying to a top company he looked for ones that were broken in some way. He got a job where he was a big deal and could make a difference. This concept applies to life. Rather than chase the hot person on the beach, look for the nerd in the library. Just don’t be arrogant or act boastfully while you are in the small pond.

Secret #8 – Go Untouchable

  • It seems that every day there are more distractions in our lives. Cellphones are a big culprit while things like meetings at work and a barrage of emails also contribute. When Neil quit Walmart to become a full-time writer he found that he didn’t have the amount of time he anticipated to do creative work. His solution was to create weekly UNTOUCHABLE days where he unplugged and just focused on creative activity. He found his productivity skyrocketed so he now schedules two such days a week sixteen weeks into the future. If he has to shift one of these days he keeps it in the same week.

Secret #9 – Never, Never Stop

  • This chapter could have been called “what I learned from my dad.” He emigrated from India to Canada, worked hard, and never gave up. He kept things simple and when he made a decision he didn’t waste time rethinking it. The big idea is that you can only go forward so start going that way and never stop. Thanks, Neil.

Neil Pasricha

  • Neil is a New York Times bestselling author of six books including The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation. His podcast 3 Books is his quest to uncover the most formative books in the world. He gives 50+ speeches a year including TED Talks and SXSW. He has degrees from Queen’s University and Harvard Business School and lives in Toronto. Reach him on Twitter as @nielpasricha, visit his blog at Neil.Blog, and drop him a line at neil@globalhappiness.org.
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