The Books We Read

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ImageWhat if your life was more awesome? Before you break out the neon colors, your Zach Morris mobile phone, and your cassette tapes, you must be ““brutally realistic about present and wildly unrealistic about the future.” (35) Jon Acuff, in his book Start, wants you to know that your life can be filled with awesome, if you are willing to leave behind good! The thing for you to know is that “the starting line is the only line you control.” (28)

I am the type of guy that lives with: 1) regret for not starting a lot of things earlier; 2) paralysis from not knowing what to do now that I was fired from what I thought I was supposed to do; 3) fear that it might be too late to do anything else. This book is a challenge to all of those ideas.

Acuff blends his humor that he perfected on his blog “Stuff Christians Like” with a devotional bent, creating a book about discovering and implementing your passions and joy, in effort to change this world. His purpose in writing was to help his readers find their awesome. In doing so, he gives an overview of the cycle that we go through in life. He notices that everybody goes through these stages during their time on this earth:

In our 20’s we are learning. This stage is all about finding out what you like and don’t like, what brings you joy and what wears you out. Trying, experiencing and learning as many skills as possible. Asking the question, “If I died today, what wouldn’t I get to do?”…At this stage, Acuff suggests, finding 30 minutes a day to devote to a task that drives you and gives you the most joy. Only by experimenting do we really learn.

In our 30’s we edit. Taking what we learned in our 20’s, we begin to pare down our options. We define priorities by asking the question: “What gives you the most joy?” Discover what brings you joy and how you can spend the most productive time on that. Acuff reminds us that: “time really is the only indicator of what matters.”

In our 40’s we master. This stage is where we become the experts. Dr. K. Anders Ericsson has found that it takes 10000 hours of practice to make an expert.   During this section Acuff explains how to deal with criticism, how to leverage your abilities and gifts, and how to get more experience. When it comes to criticism, Acuff points out exactly what we all deal with: 1 criticism + 10000 praises = 1 criticism. I think that rings true for most of us, but he points out that criticism needs to looked at from the source, asking “who said it and why?”

In our 50’s we harvest. After years of practicing, editing, and mastering, we finally come to the point that where our passion, joy, abilities, and experience meet. Acuff reminds us that we will work harder at this stage than any other. But there are some ways that we can shorten this stage up: like being a jerk, letting fame get the better of us, or becoming lazy.

The final stage is guiding. This is Acuff’s mentoring challenge to all those who have mastered something. He is passionate about seeing people guide and influence others. Though we don’t have to be in this stage to lead another person (we just have to be a step ahead of them), this is where we get to utilize our gained experience in order to help others. The key, Acuff says, is to not try to do to much. Be selective on who and when.

This book was a fantastic read. Acuff writes very clearly about the cycle that we go through in mastering any task. The most important thing he would have you do is “START”. I ate this book up as he told his story. If you get the chance to read one book this summer, this one needs to be it. It helps to put everything in perspective.


1 Comment

  1. […] to balance what he felt he was created to do and what he had to do to feed and house his family.  Jon’s book Start was his challenge to begin utilizing gifts and talents in a way that would bring fulfillment and a […]

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