The School of Greatness
When Lewis Howes was in elementary school he was chosen dead last for a game at recess. He determined then and there that he would never go through that again and committed much of his life to fitness and athletics. He was all-state football in high school and went to college to continue playing. From a young age Lewis wanted to become an All-American. After playing his first couple seasons, he got severely injured in a game and had to spend month after month recovering.
He still had the goal to become an All-American, however, so he did some research and learned that, with the right training, he would be able to accomplish it in the decathlon. He had never done the event before, but after months of recovery he started training for hours each day to become the best. By the end of the season he was an All-American. After that season he was healthy enough to return to football, and he was also able to become an All-American in that as well.
He pursued his goal of playing professional football but got hurt again. This time it was bad enough that it discouraged him from returning. After that moment, and much time trying to figure out what to do, he was able to start and build a 7-figure business. Nowadays he spends his time interviewing many successful people in his podcast, The School of Greatness, and sharing what he learns from them on it.
Easily my favorite part of the book was the chapter on positivity and habits and why they are so important in our lives. Howes talks about how he always tries to start off his day by making his bed. This helps him feel good about his progress and it creates a snowball effect on his day where he can see more and more good things happening because of his initial effort. Positivity and productivity habits have been a struggle for me, as my brain wanders all the time and it is extremely hard for me to stay focused in the moment. Because of that, this chapter really impacted me.
I also really enjoyed how Howes attempted to make his book actionable, by creating exercises to reinforce what the readers learn, to be completed when they finish each chapter. Too many people (myself included) read a book and find it interesting and think about how great it is, and then we forget the next day because we didn’t take any time to internalize the content. At that point we really aren’t gaining anything besides entertainment by reading. If that is what you want then there is nothing wrong with it, but because I try to learn and apply what I read I really appreciated his guidance since it can be hard to do it myself without a guide.
The most impactful moments in The School of Greatness come from the people Lewis Howes interviews. I loved learning about Angel Martinez and his love of shoes (an ever-growing passion of mine), and how he used his vision to become CEO of a multimillion dollar shoe company. I also loved reading about Shawn Johnson because of knowing her story and how successful she’s been in life, as well as having had a crush on her during her rise in the Olympics I will admit.
The story that really got to me, however, was the story of Christian Howes, Lewis’ older brother. He was an extremely talented musician growing up, but got caught up in drugs and eventually ended up selling drugs to an undercover cop and going to jail. After getting out he made the decision to change his life completely and went back to his love of music. He was able to focus on that one thing (music) that would keep his life in order and worked extremely hard at that one thing until he eventually played in Carnegie Hall with Les Paul and many other famous musicians.
The part of his story that really inspired me was his focus on his goal. Too often I let my mind wander and I get distracted even while doing simple tasks, so I am not nearly as productive or efficient as I would like to be. I know that focus and a clear vision are part of what make the great truly great, so I need to keep working at it over and over and make it a habit (like he also talks about) in order to become great.
Lewis Howes talks about the importance of creating a Personal Principles Declaration (PPD) and keeping it with you always. This will address 5 principles you stand for and will live by, no matter what happens. I am going to do this, so I can be more intentional in knowing why I live the way I do. This will help me know what decisions I should make in advance of any difficult challenges so that I won’t hesitate or go against what I stand for.
While The School of Greatness had some great thoughts and ideas, its execution was lacking. I know Lewis Howes is extremely passionate while speaking (I have seen him speak at conventions personally), but for me that passion got lost in the text. It is a solid first effort as an author, and I would personally be thrilled if my first book had this much good content, but after seeing Lewis in person and comparing it to the book I was a little disappointed. I usually watch Howes’ content and connect to it immediately, but for me this book just didn’t hit home in the emotional department too much.
Don’t get me wrong, people should read this book. If you are looking to change anything in your life and don’t know where to start, this book does a great job of providing actionable content and explaining in a clear manner the difference between goals and visions, which I think is extremely important. The best part about the book is easily the guest highlights. There are so many nuggets from the people Lewis talks about. I especially enjoyed learning about Angel Martinez and Howes’ own brother, Chris. There are many lessons to be learned from his story. Overall, this book is a good first effort. However, when the stories about others are more impactful than the writer’s own words it makes it hard to feel like this book was really his. It felt more like he compiled lots of stories and then tied them together somehow. I would still recommend this book as I found the stories engaging, but for me this book gets a 6.5/10.
Top 8 Quotes
“Do not despise the bottom rungs in the ascent to greatness.”
“We only have one rule. You can’t stop. You can go as slow as you need to go, but you cannot stop. You can never drop out.”
“Your job is to create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. If it doesn’t, go back to bed until you have a bigger dream.”
“What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.”
“Remember, no one has ever achieved anything truly great without going through extreme adversity.”
“If you don’t give yourself a moment to visualize the clear results you want to create, then you are less likely to achieve what you desire.”
“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
“What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Read this book? Have any questions or thoughts? Leave a comment below!
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