Book Reviews

The School of Greatness by Lewis Howes -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

44. The School of Greatness - Lewis Howes

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 7/10

Date of reading: 16th – 24th of November, 2017

Description: The School of Greatness is the name of a popular podcast started by Lewis Howes and the book “steals” the same name. It’s about finding your life’s vision when your primary purpose has been shut down (Howes needed to stop playing American football because of an injury) and how to actually make it happen


My notes:




“Wilma Rudolph, the Olympic champion who was once the fastest woman in the world, said, “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”” ( :8)

“Suddenly, those dreams of glory and fame came crashing down to earth. It wasn’t pretty. I was 24 years old, washed up, broke, and sleeping on my sister’s couch with my arm in a cast and a mountain of credit card debt staring me in the face. My dreams vanished. What I was living through at that point was a nightmare—and I feared that it was something I’d never wake up from. It was the lowest low I’ve ever experienced.” ( :8)

“I eventually built this presence on LinkedIn into an incredibly lucrative speaking, advising, and teaching business. I had no background in online business, but I had good instincts and was willing to work my butt off, and as I took some advice from mentors, the money started flowing in. After an initial period of figuring it all out, my first year brought in close to $1 million in sales. By year 3, that had more than doubled. Eventually, my business partner bought me out in a deal for seven figures.” ( :9)

“One of my teachers, the author and journalist Steven Kotler, would later define greatness as “waking up every day and saying ‘Okay. Today I’m going to move mountains.'” That’s what I wanted. That’s who I wanted to be.” ( :9)

“I’m simply lucky enough to be the messenger. As I was writing, I learned that there is a long tradition of this kind of book. From Aristotle’s Ethics and” ( :9)

“Epictetus’ Discourses more than 2,000 years ago to a more recent book like Peter Thiel’s Zero to One, the great thinkers themselves didn’t write those books: A student did.” ( :10)

“I’ve come to learn from people like Shawn, is “not just holding a gold medal at the top of a podium.” It’s about inspiring people, about sharing a message, about believing the truth in that cliché: It’s the journey, not the destination to some perceived treasure or moment of adulation. In fact, there are a million ways to be great and a million more things to be great at. Most of them don’t come with a medal or a giant check.” ( :11)




“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. —Helen Keller” ( :18)

“”Okay, so you don’t want to work for a pro team?” Now I was confused. “Then what is it you really, really want? What’s your vision?” I laugh every time I think back to this dinner conversation, because I feel so bad for Steve. When he ordered his meal, he had no idea it came with a side of interrogation, especially from someone who seemed to be getting frustrated with him. And believe me, I was getting frustrated, because I was asking him to focus in on what he really wanted to do with his life—what he desired—and instead, like so many of us who have not yet recognized the inherent potential for greatness within ourselves, he was listing all the things he could do but probably wouldn’t.” ( :18)

“”Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” (emphasis mine) The reason I know this is true and that Steve’s dream is possible is because of my time with one of the School of Greatness’s greatest teachers: Angel Martinez.” ( :19)

“As the award-winning Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho wrote in his bestseller The Alchemist, “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” And it’s that much easier to accomplish when you know exactly what your dream is. It might seem odd to you that a goal as small as having a pair of nice sneakers of his own would be considered a dream—most of us have never had to struggle so hard for such a small material possession—but for Angel, growing up poor in the Bronx, it put him on the path he followed the rest of his life.” ( :20)

“was the name for the dream I’d had since I was a little kid. Like Angel’s dream for his first pair of shoes, being an All-American can sound a little silly or even a little cute if you don’t have the context and you don’t know how that singular vision guided decades of our lives.” ( :21)

“The famed World War II general and French president Charles de Gaulle is reported to have said, “Greatness is a road leading towards the unknown.” And he was right, but only in a particular sense, I think.” ( :23)

“You become what you envision yourself being.” ( :23)

“The seasons where coaches had us write out our team vision and our personal goals were the most successful seasons I ever had. That shared vision provided a foundation for the team. Without it, we were athletes playing without greater purpose. Having that purpose and knowing why we were playing enabled the members of those teams to sacrifice for each other in ways the visionless teams never could.” ( :25)

“I wrote it down on a piece of paper. I framed it and hung it on my mirror where I would see it every morning when I woke up. Just like writing down our shared team vision back in my football days, framing and posting my speaking goal (with the date!) gave me a purpose and a destination. It turned my telescope around. Not only did I achieve that goal in the time allotted, but today I am much more comfortable onstage and regularly get offered upwards of $25,000 for speaking opportunities around the world. And it all started with establishing a clear vision and writing down my goals. I’ve been doing this exercise for more than 15 years now. I started calling it my Certificate of Achievement to make it an official part of the quest for greatness, and it continues to serve me well as both an athlete and an entrepreneur.” ( :25)

“How do I want every day to look? How do I want to feel every single day? What am I creating daily? Whom am I spending my time with? What places am I exposing myself to? What passions am I fulfilling?” ( :26)

“PART 2: TOMORROW’S PERFECT DAY 7:30 a.m. Wake up, meditate, and enjoy the views from my balcony. 8:00 a.m. Healthy breakfast with green juice or a smoothie. 9:00 a.m. CrossFit/kickboxing or private skills training session. 10:45 a.m. Check in with my team about projects of the day. 11:00 a.m. Complete the top three tasks that were on my list before bed. 12:00 p.m. Healthy lunch at home or lunch meeting with someone who inspires me. 1:30 p.m. Back to the top three on my to-do list, recording interviews, doing videos, or working with the team. 3:00 p.m. Physical therapy to increase flexibility (2 days a week). 5:00 p.m. Pickup basketball, hiking with friends, swim in ocean. 7:30 p.m. Healthy dinner at home or out with friends.” ( :26)

“9:00 p.m. Read, movie, events with influencers on the town. 11:00 p.m. Make a list of what I’m most grateful for today, create a “completed list” of what I did today. Write the top three list of what I want to create tomorrow. 11:30 p.m. Meditate, sleep, dream, recover body.” ( :27)

“Here is my PPD. 1. Love myself, everyone, and everything. 2. Be in service to support others and the world. 3. Always give my best and strive for greatness in everything I do. 4. Live in abundance. 5. Create a win/win with everything.” ( :27)

“Answer these questions. Who am I? What do I stand for? What is my vision for myself, my family, and the world? List your five principles (Personal Principles Declaration)” ( :28)

“Write out the top three goals you want to either achieve or maintain for the next 6 or 12 months under each of the following categories: family, relationships, business, money, health, recreation, spirituality/inner growth. Below each goal, write a detailed action plan for how you will achieve that specific goal: Make it so annoyingly stepby-step and spelled out that anyone could read your plan, follow it exactly, and achieve it themselves. Here is a sample of how three categories might look. FAMILY GOAL #1: VISIT PARENTS AND SIBLINGS TWICE A YEAR. Step 1: Find time in my schedule every 6 months where I could fly home (in next 3 days). Step 2: Call Mom, Dad, and siblings to see when they are free (in next 7 days). Step 3: Save to my calendar the set dates we agree on and book flights (within 2 weeks). BUSINESS GOAL #1: MAKE $10,000 A MONTH IN THE NEXT 6 MONTHS. Step 1: Calculate how many customers it will take to reach this (1 day).” ( :28)

“Step 2: Break this down into how many sales this will take weekly and daily (1 day). Step 3: Set up and host one webinar per week to current prospects to generate these sales.” ( :29)

“HEALTH GOAL #1: LOSE 15 POUNDS IN 60 DAYS. Step 1: Find a workout plan I’ll be excited about (within 24 hours). Step 2: Find coach or accountability partner (3 days). Step 3: Schedule workout days and times of workouts for the next 60 days (3 days). Step 4: Begin training on this plan in 4 days! Write down the type of person you will need to be in order to accomplish this in 6 or 12 months. Example: “I will need to be committed. Most important, I’ll need to let go of the pressure or stress and empower others around me to support me instead of doing it all on my own. I’ll need to deepen my understanding about business and how the world works for me to be able to flow in it effortlessly.” I will … Now write down the breakthroughs you will create as a result of understanding who you need to be to accomplish your goals. Example: “Letting go of reaction or defensiveness. Peace with myself, and understanding that everything at the end of the day is ‘small stuff’ and doesn’t require me to react in a way that doesn’t serve me if things don’t go well.”” ( :29)

“When adversity arises, you have two choices: (1) Do nothing, let it overwhelm you, and fall victim to your circumstances, or (2) embrace the challenge and move toward the adversity, making it part of your success story. Prepare yourself for these moments, because they are going to happen in all areas of your life whether you like it or not. When you understand this and learn to embrace adversity, then you can learn to overcome it and use it to your advantage.” ( :32)




“And by the middle of 2012, at the age of 26, he’d accomplished all of them. He played football in middle school. He was a champion wrestler in high school and won 36 varsity wrestling matches during his senior year. He fought a full three-round mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. He climbed the nearly 20,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro.” ( :33)

“Creating a vision is about clearly defining what you want (your goals) and who you want to be (your dreams).” ( :33)

“Anyone can tell themselves they have a vision for what they want to create in the world, but it is our actions that dictate what we create in reality, where anything can (and does) happen. It is in the doing that the goals become real.” ( :34)

“Greatness is what remains when that talent and vision meet adversity—and persist in the face of it.” ( :34)

“Kyle was forced to reckon with at an early age. As he said, no amount of focus or wishing was going to change anything. Like many of the breakthrough moments I’ve had in my life around the issue of adversity, Kyle’s aha moment came on the football field. He was 11 years old. “I made my first tackle in a football game when I was 11,” Kyle recalled. “It seems like a relatively simple thing, but my life changed forever in that moment. I stopped having so many concerns over what might happen in the distant future. I stopped being consumed with wondering what I would do with my life. I used to ask questions like ‘Would I have to live at home with Mom and Dad forever?'” ( :34)

“”When I was 19, I gave a speech to several thousand of the world’s most successful business owners, sandwiched between then senator Obama and Dr. Steven Covey, best-selling author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Once I gave that talk, it’s no wonder every speech since then has been a whole lot easier!”” ( :34)

“Amazing! Think about that for a second: In 8 years, Kyle went from crying himself to sleep every night, wondering if he’d ever have a girlfriend or a job or a place of his own, to speaking to a room full of business luminaries between the future president of the United States and the author of one of the most successful self-help business books of all time. And it all started with a tackle on the football field—with one little action.” ( :34)

“There was just one problem: She didn’t possess a credit card. Instead, she had to go to the bank, withdraw cash, and roll up to the counter at the airport and pay for the ticket with a wad of bills. “I said, ‘Enough is enough. This is ridiculous.’ I needed to take control of my life and my finances.” Except how do you do that? How do you take control of your financial life and set yourself on a path toward a career in business news when finance is essentially a foreign concept to you? When you can’t learn from your parents? When you live in a country where they don’t teach you how to master and manage your money—not in elementary school or high school or college, even if you take finance classes?” ( :35)

“The language of LinkedIn and the language of business scared me half to death when I was planted on my sister’s couch staring at the end of my career in sports (a language I was very fluent in).” ( :35)

“I was petrified, but for 3 months, I trained and studied and had group classes, and I took private lessons, and I watched YouTube videos, and I practiced in front of my mirror by myself like I was dancing with a girl. If you think it’s weird when I talk about it, imagine how weird I felt doing it! But I remember the moment when I finally understood the language of salsa dancing, and believe me when I tell you that when I started, it seemed like a completely foreign language. Nicole nailed it; it was absolutely like speaking Chinese. When it clicked and salsa started to make sense, as though I could speak the language fluently, I felt like I could run up the side of a building. I could do anything I set my mind to no matter what obstacles—physical or mental, internal or external—stood in front of me.” ( :36)

“goal that meant so much to me. I was a senior, and the football season was over, so becoming an All-American wide receiver was clearly no longer an option. I had to figure something out. There had to be another way.” ( :37)

“I had unearthed the advantage hidden within my adverse circumstances. What I had dreaded and fought so hard against at first—my injuries—actually got me closer to my dream. In fact, it surpassed the original dream in ways I could have never imagined. How could that be? How could an injury, one that I never anticipated, literally double my chances to be an All-American, which I’d dreamed of since I was a boy?” ( :38)

“Ryan has faced his own fair share of adversity. He dropped out of college at 19 years old; was virtually disowned by his parents; went to work for a string of high-profile, very difficult, and controversial clients; and spent the better part of the next decade working his butt off to get where he is today.” ( :38)

“As Ryan writes, there is “one thing that all great men and women have in common. Like oxygen to a fire, obstacles became fuel for that which was their ambition. Nothing could stop them, they were (and continue to be) impossible to discourage or contain. Every impediment served to make the inferno within them burn with greater ferocity.”” ( :38)

“but only our perceptions. As he tackled each of his dreams, undaunted, it was the philosopherstatesman Seneca’s words that he took most vividly to heart: “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”” ( :38)

“Kyle used these fearful people’s misperceptions and misunderstandings to his advantage. He found fuel in the haters. As Ralph Waldo Emerson asked, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”” ( :39)

“”One of my core beliefs is that you have to have things that you’re passionate about to go after and live to your potential,” Kyle said to me. “I didn’t want to be a pro fighter. I had no delusions about that. I just wanted to experience it. Because 99.9 percent of the fans of the sport would never step into the cage, and that’s okay, but I didn’t want to be afraid. I wanted to go in there and experience it.”” ( :39)

“If there is one thing you take from the School of Greatness about pursuing your vision and achieving your dreams, it should be this: You can go as slow as you need to go, but you cannot stop. You can never give up or drop out of giving your best in your life.” ( :40)

“He had always heard me talk about all this,” Angel said of Julian. “Then I went to watch him at one meet, and he was about halfway through the 5 miles when he felt a really sharp pain in his shin area. He started slowing down, and I could see something was wrong. I went out there and said, ‘Julian, what’s the matter?’ He was grimacing but he ignored me, and he finished the race.” It turns out, Julian had broken his leg at the 2.5-mile mark. Two hours after the finish, he was in a cast. When Angel asked him why he didn’t stop, Julian’s answer was simple and obvious: “I don’t drop out, Dad.” Make no mistake, true greats never drop out.” ( :40)

“Kyle ascended Tanzania’s 19,336-foot Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a nine-man team in early 2012. Unassisted by team members and unaided by prosthetics, he essentially bear-crawled on his elbows for 12½ days—10 days up, 2½ days down. Half a dozen people (with all their limbs) die on that mountain every year. To summit it at all is a serious achievement. To do it like Kyle did it, well, I don’t think there is even a word for that except for greatness!” ( :41)

“Angel Martinez did it as a runner, struggling to push himself through every mile. The problem he faced, as he tried to run faster and farther, was that the shoes his team wore weren’t very good. To get halfway decent running shoes, they’d have to go into Berkeley (he eventually had moved from the Bronx to the Bay Area) and buy shoes that had been imported by a company called Blue Ribbon Sports. The importer? His name was Phil Knight, and he went on to found Nike.” ( :41)

“Angel saw these people making a living solving a problem in the sport he loved and thought: Why not me? Why can’t I make a living by connecting my current passion [running] with one of my earliest childhood passions [cool shoes]? Eventually, he started working at a small shop and bought half of it from the owner. A few years later, a couple of English guys walked in with a new brand they hoped he would sell. They called it Reebok.” ( :42)

“In reality, failure is simply feedback. It’s not that you are bad or not good enough or incapable. Failure (or feedback) gives you the opportunity to look at what’s not working and figure out how to make it work.” ( :42)

“face of adversity when you were first starting out was either try to ignore it or avoid it. Sometimes you might even pretend it wasn’t there. I know I’ve been guilty of each of those behaviors in my own past.” ( :43)




“I went on to make a personal best, clearing over 14 feet, that day in the pole vault, and I finished strong in the next two events. I became an All-American that day. I have felt versions of that laser focus a handful of times over the past decade in many areas of my life besides sports, including business and relationships. It’s addictive. Yet some of us have never felt it—we may not know that it is absent and what feats we’re missing out on because of it. Some of us haven’t even come close to feeling that state of peak performance and excellence.” ( :50)

“”Flow,” Steven told me, “is an optimal state of consciousness, where we perform our best and we feel our best. In flow, we are so focused on the task at hand that everything else vanishes. Time either speeds up, so 5 hours will pass by like 5 minutes, or it slows down, like that freeze-frame effect in a car crash. Your sense of self, your sense of self-consciousness disappear completely, and all aspects of performance, mental and physical, go through the roof.”” ( :51)

“Green Bay Packers wide receivers in the Monday Night Football game against the Oakland Raiders in 2003 when Brett Favre played the day after his father died. They caught everything, no matter where he put the ball. That’s what it was like.” ( :51)

“coach came up to me and said, “I just wanted to say congratulations. You actually broke a world record for the most receiving yards in a single football game: 418 yards.” Four hundred eighteen yards on 17 catches, including four touchdowns, to be exact. Yup. I was in a flow state.” ( :51)

“It’s twofold,” Steven explained. On the one hand, it happens “out of necessity. Meaning the level of performance has gone up so much that in the case of athletes, at least, if you are not in flow when you’re performing, you’re going to end up in the hospital or dead.” I could definitely relate to that. With three guys covering me, if I go over the middle for a pass and I am not in flow, I am on the ground with the wind knocked out of me or with another case of cracked ribs.” ( :52)

“The other reason it happens is because you’ve surrounded yourself with all the necessary flow triggers. True greats have basically created the most high-flow environment they possibly could. Everything in their lives is triggering flow.” ( :52)

“norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin, and endorphin—are the most addictive chemicals on earth. They make you quicker, faster, stronger, and more motivated. According to Steven, they do the same thing for your mental output that they do for your physical output. Talk about an aha moment.” ( :52)

“From the moment I met Shawn, I knew she was the professor who could teach me how to cultivate the right mindset. I’m 6 foot 4 and she is a shade under 5 feet tall, so naturally we went and did a CrossFit workout together one day to see who could beat out the other in a battle of the fittest. This is my book, so I’m not going to say in print that she whipped my butt, but let’s just say that she beat me (and the rest of the class) so badly that it was embarrassing.” ( :52)

“That is why an equally important part of the champion’s mindset is the pursuit of perfection and excellence, independent of external results. This is very different from a drive to “win.” Shawn, like many athletes, isn’t obsessed with winning so much as she is with doing her absolute best: “I never focused on winning. Especially when I started out and I was in 30-something place out of 39 people.” ( :54)




“”When I got out, I was not afraid to promote myself,” Chris said. “Most people can’t get over that fear. In the arts world, you’re supposed to stay cool, man. Just do your music, and it will come to you.” ( :64)

“I said, ‘Fuck that. I know what I want to do. I want to be a great jazz violinist, to go onstage with great musicians,’ and so I pursued it zealously.”” ( :65)

“Since those days in tiny jazz clubs and no-name festivals, Chris has toured the world, been on the cover of magazines, played Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and collaborated with greats like Les Paul, Greg Osby, D. D. Jackson, and Spyro Gyra. His list of collaborators and clients is literally as long as my arm. He was a professor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and set up a highly successful jazz violin camp where professional violinists from all over the world come to learn from him. All of that should have surprised me, but it never did, because he understood the importance of hustle in the pursuit of greatness.” ( :65)

“Just ask Tom Brady. Brady is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. He is a no-doubt Hall of Famer; he has four Super Bowl rings, three Super Bowl MVPs, two kids, and one beautiful supermodel wife. Yet he plays with the fiery, junkyard-dog intensity of a Davidian underdog every game because he’s got a Goliath-size chip on his shoulder. Not only did he come to the University of Michigan and land seventh on the depth chart (the lowest-ranked quarterback on the team), but once he battled his way into the starting job as a junior, he had to fight off another quarterback, Drew Henson, whom the coach platooned him with the entire first half of his senior season. Then, in the 2000 NFL Draft, despite setting records at Michigan and earning Big Ten all-conference honors, he wasn’t drafted until the 199th overall selection in the sixth round—a compensatory pick, no less—by the New England Patriots. Actually, to say that the chip on Tom Brady’s shoulder is Goliath-size is an understatement. It is the size of the 198 guys picked before him and the 29 teams who had four or five chances to draft him but chose not to. He works harder than everyone to show all those people what’s what. He is a true David in that sense.” ( :67)

“”The opportunities that can come when you do that, you can’t even predict,” she told me. “When you show up with that attitude of ‘I’m going to master this, I’m going to bring my A game,’ you feel better. You have more energy, and the results are going to be better.”” ( :68)

“Les Paul, the famous guitarist, once remarked, “It used to be you could hardly find a good jazz violinist, but nowadays there are four or five really good players.” I think that competition from all these players who hadn’t lost 4 years on the inside was what drove my brother to be the best. It’s what made him hustle—to try to carve out a space for himself. And if Les Paul is any judge, Chris’s work has paid off, because even though there are now four or five really good players, he also said, “There is nobody better than Christian Howes.” If there was such a thing as a mike drop in jazz violin, this would be it.” ( :68)

“”Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”” ( :69)

“Samuel Johnson did, that “true greatness consists in being great in little things.” Baby steps, essentially.” ( :70)

“When my students notice their minds falling to any of these fears that hold them back, I give them an exercise to calm their thoughts and get them back to a grounded place of principles and vision that will lead them into action. With pen and paper or a journal, find a comfortable and quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Think about your vision and your goals. Imagine the hustle required to make them a reality. Now write down all of the things you are afraid of if you throw yourself headlong into the hustle. Allow yourself to experience the feeling of fear while you write these things down. What if I look stupid? What if I mess up? What if I lose my investment? What if I go broke? What if I ruin the relationship? What if I get fired” ( :71)

“There are four smart areas everyone can and should be hustling in: 1. Your body 2. Your mindset 3. Your relationships 4. Your skills” ( :72)

“Share a meal with three people each week (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), like the great Keith Ferrazzi recommends in his book Never Eat Alone.” ( :73)




“We need to be extremely selfish a few hours a day and take care of ourselves and our bodies,” he said. Echoing Ameer’s point, he continued, “You can’t help someone else if you are not taking care of yourself.” I’ve learned that it’s a lot like when you’re on an airplane and they say, “Put your own mask on first, before assisting others.” You can’t help anyone if your brain is oxygen starved or, worse, you’re” ( :82)

“already dead.” ( :83)

“The idea of entering a CrossFit gym or training like an elite athlete may be as terrifying to you as giving a speech was to me when I went to Toastmasters the first time. But that doesn’t let you off the hook from mastering your body in the School of Greatness.” ( :84)

“One of the best ways to return minerals to your daily diet is to use Himalayan salt. Regular table salt contains only three minerals: sodium, chloride, and iodine. Himalayan salt has anywhere from 65 to 85 trace minerals. The expression “worth one’s salt” comes from Roman times, when soldiers were given an allotment of salt as their salarium, which is where we derive our word salary. To function efficiently, it was essential that soldiers replenish the salt lost by their bodies during long marches. Having the right salt could mean the difference between life and death.” ( :86)

“You can get 500 calories from sugar or you can get 500 calories from a grass-fed rib eye; your choice will have a vastly different effect on your body.” ( :88)




“Successful people are simply those with successful habits. —Brian Tracy” ( :93)

“Guys like NBA All-Star Allen Iverson (who, during an infamous press conference where he was being judged for missing practice, said, “I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we’re sitting here talking about practice?!”)” ( :93)

“practice?!”) and National Football League All-Pro Charles Woodson were notorious for giving the bare minimum to get by until the lights came on.” ( :93)

“Now others of you might be asking a different question: “Well, what if you don’t have any talent? What then?” First of all, that’s garbage. Every single one of us has talent churning away inside; you either have misdiagnosed yours, denied it, or taken it for granted. But second, talent—at least of the kind I’m talking about with Graham—isn’t destiny. Sure, talent can make greatness easier to achieve, but greatness is not the exclusive domain of the talented. Greatness is the result of visionaries who persevere, focus, believe, and prepare. It is a habit, not a birthright.” ( :94)

“That was exactly where Graham was one day a few years later, when he learned that a close cousin had been killed in a car crash. Something in Graham clicked. It was like he finally woke up from the stupor he’d put himself in, and instead of treading water, he began to kick and paddle with purpose. I’ve never seen someone turn his life around as quickly as he did, giving up all his vices cold turkey and going to the gym nonstop. On this new path, he developed the workout and lifestyle habits that would eventually turn him into the world champion at the CrossFit Games and earn him the label “the world’s fittest man.”” ( :94)

“That is the tricky secret about habits —they are best built or changed one by one, but eventually, you have to get to all of them if you want to be great. In the quest for greatness, there is no substitute for developing positive habits.” ( :95)

“This process wasn’t easy at first. I never got into any of the obvious things we think of when we talk about bad habits—drugs, drinking, or smoking—because from an early age I saw what they did to my brother and realized I didn’t want to make those same mistakes. I wasn’t perfect by any stretch (and achieving greatness isn’t about being perfect anyway), but my bad habits were less clear to see or less straightforward to understand. Thanks to a lot of introspection and coaching from greats like Chris Lee and Tony Robbins, I finally came to see all the bad habits I’d developed” ( :95)

“• Beating myself up • Being ungrateful • Failing to acknowledge positive growth • Being overly judgmental (toward myself and others) • Disrespecting my parents and family • Staying in unfulfilling relationships too long • Eating poorly • Not exercising regularly • Keeping a messy living space • Swearing like a sailor • Staying up all night • Sleeping in all morning • Cheating on homework and tests • Reacting to situations in a way that upsets others • Getting by without practicing” ( :95)

“Loving people wherever they are on their personal journey” ( :96)

“The tricky part about habits is that any one of them (good or bad), when you look at them individually, doesn’t seem all that critical. It’s when you take them in combination or as a whole that they become incredibly powerful.” ( :96)

“Now, I don’t want you to think this is all about morals. Though morals are important, this is really about human optimization—not avoiding sin. Ironically, it was Eric Thomas, the inspirational speaker and “hip-hop preacher,” who made this clear to me when he pointed out a simple bad habit that almost everyone has: getting distracted. Think about how hard it is for us to stay on task these days; from social media to e-mail, there is an endless pull on our time.” ( :97)

“Meanwhile, he pushes back at entrepreneurs and artists who can’t seem to create work that resonates. “It’s because you’re not in abstraction,” he said to me. “You don’t have that moment of your day—I don’t care if it’s 10 minutes or 4 hours—where you shut the entire world out. No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, nothing. For that time, you’re going all in. Once you come out, then we can do Instagram. And I’ll be honest. Your content probably would be stronger if you had that time of isolation, of solitude, where you give yourself a chance to think. You give yourself a chance to go in, and when you go in, you go 120 percent. That’s my ritual.”” ( :97)

“Gretchen Rubin, the habit expert and number one New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project,” ( :97)

“A routine guaranteed to move you closer to greatness, especially if you develop positive habits related to the other lessons in the book: creating a vision, overcoming adversity, cultivating a champion’s mindset, developing hustle, mastering your body, building a team, and being of service.” ( :98)

“I try to observe them for positive habits to learn what made them great. I often explicitly ask about their habits when they appear on my podcast. The reason? I want to see which habits I should deploy in my own life.” ( :98)

“1. Maintain a to-do list. 2. Wake up 3+ hours before work (to set themselves up for the day). 3. Listen to audiobooks during commutes (or you can read, if you take public transportation, or listen to my podcast!). 4. Network 5+ hours each month. 5. Read 30+ minutes each day. 6. Exercise 4 days a week (I recommend 5 days myself, with daily movement, of course). 7. Eat minimal junk food.” ( :98)

“8. Watch 1 hour or less of TV a day. 9. Teach good daily success habits to their children. 10. Make their children volunteer 10+ hours per month (I encourage you to do it with them to set the example). 11. Encourage their children to read 2+ books per month (I didn’t read much as a kid and wish I would have). 12. Write down their goals.” ( :99)

“13. Focus on accomplishing a specific goal. 14. Believe in lifelong educational self-improvement. 15. Believe good habits create opportunities. 16. Believe bad habits have a negative impact.” ( :99)

“A few years ago, when I had Ramit Sethi on my podcast, it struck me in the middle of the interview that I wanted to thank this person whom I looked up to and had learned so much from. (His New York Times best-selling book helped me get out of debt from the student loans I had. It was a major game changer in my life when I completed that.)” ( :100)

“Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”” ( :101)

“HABITS MANIFESTO What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.” ( :102)

“Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong. Focus on actions, not outcomes. By giving something up, we may gain. Things often get harder before they get easier. When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves. We’re not very different from other people, but those differences are very important. It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves. We can’t make people change, but when we change, others may change. We should make sure the things we do to feel better don’t make us feel worse. We manage what we monitor. Once we’re ready to begin, begin now.” ( :103)

“Make a to-do list for the day. Create a list of your top priorities or the most important things you need to accomplish that day. • Work out, stretch, or go on a walk to get up and moving first thing in the morning before distractions get in the way.” ( :104)

“I’d go through life solo proving others wrong. That ended up emotionally draining me and was stressful beyond belief (not to mention very lonely). It wasn’t until I began allowing others to support my dreams and me that life started to come to me with ease.” ( :107)




“YouTube to being one of the biggest stars in the history of music, he would give you a single name: Scooter Braun.” ( :108)

“Jackson’s classic book, Sacred Hoops. By the time he closed the back cover, he had decided he wanted to be a coach. It was there that he fell in love with the idea of creating the perfect winning team.” ( :108)

“With sports, I’ve been on great teams and awful ones. I’ve also been on great teams that lost and awful teams that won. But it was the ones that were so toxic and disconnected that I literally wanted to quit (and sometimes did) that had the greatest impact.” ( :108)

“I’ve learned: You need to get everyone rowing in the same direction, and the only way you do this effectively is by cultivating the kinds of strong relationships where heading in the same direction feels like the only option.” ( :109)

“You will never outperform your inner circle. If you want to achieve outer success, improve your inner circle.” ( :109)

“”Let’s be honest, you can’t get rid of a family member, right? So what I realized was rather than the amount of time I was allotting every week to conversation, maybe it’s half that. It really is a great challenge, but governing who you put in your circle is one of those places where your decision making will impact you greatly.”” ( :110)

“How is this model for greatness different when we’re talking about sports as opposed to business or relationships or life? The answer, of course, is that it’s not.” ( :110)

“”You show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”” ( :110)

“Dupri taught him the music business and how to work with artists. But Scooter didn’t stop there. “Sometimes people say they have one mentor. I’ve never had one mentor,” he told me. “If I had one mentor, it’d be my father, but I have other really great mentors as well: people like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Lucian Grainge, who’s the chairman of Universal Music Group. We’re very close, and he’s been an incredible mentor and friend. David Geffen has become a mentor to me as well. Those kinds of people I’m eternally grateful to because they allow me to draw from them.”” ( :111)

“It reminds me of a quote by Edmund Lee, who encouraged people to “surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who seek greatness within you even when you don’t see it yourself.”” ( :112)

“”You’ve got to realize,” he told me, “the only way to scale is to delegate and to empower others and to say, ‘You know what? They’re not going to do it exactly like me, but they’re going to do it exactly like them.'”” ( :112)

“Scooter brought the analogy home to me after we played a pickup basketball game together: “That’s the same idea as when we play basketball. Sometimes you’re going to make a great assist and a guy’s going to miss that easy shot, and you’re going to be frustrated because that was another assist on your stat line. But at the end of the day, it isn’t about our individual stat line, it’s about winning the game.”” ( :113)

“I realized that when I spotted some writing on Scooter’s wrist. It was a tattoo. Just one word: Family. When I asked him about his family, he lit up. His grandparents were Holocaust survivors. His brother, Adam, whom you’ll meet next chapter, is an amazing person doing incredible things. And his parents? The day I interviewed him for the podcast just happened to be his parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. To have parents who really, truly love each other and are good to each other, and to witness that growing up and to have that love all the time, I always felt full. I always felt safe.” ( :113)

“I hired people, I used to think that they were there to work for me. That almost always ended badly because I set myself and them up to lose. I’ve since learned that I am actually in service to my team, as well as to everyone else. Just like you are to your family—it’s a matter of give and take, mutual respect, and, ultimately, gratitude and love.” ( :114)

“I so eagerly requested to work with him. Instead, I showed him the value I could bring, so he took me under his wing and shared his wisdom and experience with me. Think about the people you most look up to versus the people you spend the most time with. If those lists are drastically different, fix that.” ( :114)

“1. Do I feel energized or stressed when I’m around or think about this person?” ( :114)

“2. Does this person inspire me or have a negative mindset around me? 3. Does this person pursue greatness in their life, or are they often a victim to circumstances? 4. Do they get excited about my success and want to see me succeed, or do they complain about their own life when I achieve my dreams?” ( :115)

“If the relationship doesn’t shift over a specific period of time that you define with the person you are trying to get clear with, and you continue to need to make that request, then it’s another sign that you may want to distance yourself from the person and start surrounding yourself with a more positive inner circle for your team. Always try to take action together, but if extreme measures need to be taken, that is when the power of no comes into play. It takes strength to remove someone from your life or take a step back from that person’s energy. Understand that nothing is more important than your emotional well-being. This drain will undoubtedly hold you back from greatness. This exercise is a game changer.” ( :115)

“I ended up sitting next to someone who directly helped me make $250,000 over the next 3 months by selling my products as an affiliate partner and referring me to five others who promoted my product as well.” ( :116)

“• Teams of influencers in your community connected for a purpose • A catalyst for business and personal growth • A space for goals and holding each other accountable • A peer advisory board • An education, support, and brainstorming group • Confidential • A commitment • A group of people supporting each other to create the life/business they want • Supportive of your success • A group of people who have your best interest in mind Here is what masterminds are not or should never be. • Group therapy” ( :116)

“There are two essential components to every successful mastermind group: the right attitude and the right members. You can have one without the other and get by okay, but we’re not interested in that. We’re not interested in settling. This book is not called The School of Average. It’s about greatness, so that’s what we’re going to strive for: a great mastermind, with a great attitude and great members.” ( :116)

“• The group name • How you’re going to connect (in person or via Skype, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, or phone) • How long your meetings will be (1 to 2 hours minimum is recommended, but some could be 2 or 3 days) • How often you will meet (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) • When you will meet • The agenda for your meetings” ( :117)

“Keep in mind that this exercise isn’t just for entrepreneurs or for businesses generally. It works as well in your personal life. I hate shopping and get tired in about 30 minutes at the mall, I struggle with cooking (I enjoy doing it, but it rarely tastes as good as it should), and I shouldn’t be doing yard work or deep cleaning my place. Based on the time I use in my business and toward making money that I charge for speaking, coaching, or consulting, my time is better spent doing what I’m great at and hiring others on my team for support with those lists as well.” ( :119)

“People matter. And you can’t achieve anything great on your own. Letting people know how much they matter and how much you care about them is equally important (if not more). The saying goes that “people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is true in family, sports, business, and any other situation in life.” ( :121)




“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. —Mahatma Gandhi” ( :124)

“From the first son, Scooter, we learned about how to assemble a winning team. But it was from the second son, Adam, that I learned one of the most important lessons of all.” ( :124)

“Given how important my own brother has been to my life, it isn’t surprising that I have found myself including brothers as champions of these two chapters. So I consider it serendipity that I encountered Adam—at a conference on a boat, no less—embodying the bold decision to make his life all about giving back.” ( :124)

“There were two seminal events in Adam’s life that set him on his unique path. The first occurred when he was 17 years old and a promising basketball player on an AAU team. His parents made the decision to take in two young athletes from Mozambique named Sam and Cornelio. Not unlike what Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy did for Michael Oher in a story made famous by Michael Lewis in his book The Blind Side, Adam’s parents wanted to give these kids a chance to fulfill their potential and experience the American dream. For Adam, his parents’ choice was a chance to expand his definition of family by adding two incredible people to it.” ( :124)

“To this day, Adam considers Sam and Cornelio his brothers. One lives in Los Angeles, the other in DC, and they celebrate all their family events” ( :124)

“together. Their kids are Adam’s nieces and nephews.” ( :125)

“My thing was asking one kid per country what they would want if they could have anything in the world.”” ( :125)

“The most powerful one came from a little boy begging on the outskirts of the city of Agra in northern India. Adam asked him, “If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?” His answer was simple: “I want a pencil.” That’s it. Just a stick of wood with some graphite in it. As you can imagine, he probably wasn’t too particular about whether it was a number 2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil or a fancy mechanical one, he was willing to take anything. Why? This precious little boy wanted to learn, to go to school, and he believed the pencil was the thing that would get him there. Even hearing this conversation gives me inspired chills.” ( :126)

“”I realized about a year, year and a half in, two things. The first was that the nonprofits I was passionate about weren’t run with any of the business acumen that I was used to seeing.” There’s no question most nonprofits have their hearts in the right place, but according to Adam: “When you’re actually inside of the organizations, they’re incredibly inefficient. It’s because they’re usually based on passion. So the language that I spoke, the sense that I had around business, it was kind of weird and frustrating to me that these humanitarian issues weren’t being approached with the same commitment to results.”” ( :126)

“Part of the mission of Pencils of Promise is to have the local community take ownership of their school. To do that, the community must build the school themselves. The organization supplies the materials and a contractor with know-how, but the mothers and fathers build the school. The result is” ( :127)

“an enormous level of pride and stewardship. Investing their own sweat equity, they are determined to keep the school maintained and functioning.” ( :128)

“As much as I’m a passion-driven person, my background helped immensely because I’m now an entrepreneur who filters every decision through the question ‘Will this provide long-term ROI?'” he said. “I always wanted to build an organization with the head of a great business and the heart of a humanitarian idealist.”” ( :128)

“The article didn’t come out and say it, but what it alluded to was that as people age, they tend to find themselves consuming more and creating less. To put it bluntly: The easiest way to live a short unimportant life is to consume the world around you rather than contribute to it. Meanwhile, the people who keep on contributing tend to be the ones who keep on living. The message was clear. People who contribute to their community live longer.” ( :128)

“I get the sense from many of the authors whom I’ve learned so much from that they would have written their books for free if they had to. They not only felt that some sort of muse had struck them and they owed it to their art to get it out, but they genuinely felt the world needed to hear their message and would be better if they read it.” ( :129)

“”There is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”” ( :130)

“As he puts it, “My definition of greatness would be living a life full of purpose, love, and dignity.” I’ll add to that: for yourself and for others. I know what you’re capable of. I know you can be of service in so many ways.” ( :130)

“• Education in your community • The arts (dance, music, theater) • Advocating for human rights • Mentorship programs • Cancer research • Fund-raising” ( :130)

“t needs to be in your breath, rushing through your blood. Every aspect of your life should have a component of service. It can be as small as smiling at everyone you come across to as big and broad as you want to take it. There is no right or wrong level of giving; the key is just that you give from a place of love instead of guilt. The way I am sure to do that is a little trick I developed after flying all over the country speaking to and meeting with people just like you. I remind myself of that part of the preflight safety announcement that every flight attendant gives: Put your own mask on first. When you make sure your needs are met and you are full, then you’ll have even more energy to give to others. Go out and live a life of service!” ( :132)




“In 2012, I moved from New York to Los Angeles for a girl, arriving with two big bags, a guitar, and a smile on my face. Later that night, she broke up with me. What made it worse was that my life in New York was on fire before leaving for LA!” ( :133)

“We are only as good and as strong as our adversity makes us. Sometimes we don’t know what is working against us until we make our biggest mistakes, and I was about to discover that on the journey to greatness, you sometimes have to fall.” ( :133)

“What he didn’t know—and neither did I, really—was that this behavior was one of my major triggers. Being disrespected and dehumanized made me see red.” ( :133)

“If you’ve never been head-butted, let me tell you, it hurts! It makes you see stars, and it makes your eyes water. And if you’re me, it makes you lose your mind a little. I am not proud of what I did next. I pounded on the guy with every ounce of energy I could muster. Eventually, my best friend, Matt, whom I was playing with, grabbed the guy, and his teammate pulled me off to break us up. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The guy was still talking trash and insulting me, and I was screaming at him, asking why he would do that to me. Why would he head-butt me like that? What was he thinking? Why did he attack me over a meaningless pickup basketball game?” ( :133)

“bounded up 11 flights of stairs, burst through my apartment door into my bedroom, and collapsed onto my bed shaking uncontrollably. What the hell just happened? I felt completely out of control and completely terrified of my own behavior. That’s not me. I’m not a fighter. I aspire to come from a place of total love. Why did I react like that?” ( :134)

“When I finished and stopped shaking, I came out into the office and there was the 15-year-old. He was screaming at me, “Why did you do that, Lewis?! What is wrong with you?!” I barely heard him, because I was sick to my stomach about what had just happened. Seeing what I was capable of when I let my emotions get the best of me, I vowed right then and there to never fight again. I succeeded in upholding that vow . . . for 17 years.” ( :134)

“Greatness is a voluntary degree. Its study is self-administered. That means it’s all on you. And you get out of life what you put into it. I hope you pursue it with everything you’ve got. I hope we bump into each other learning from the same master. Actually, I hope one day I might even take a course from you, and you a course from me. We’re in this together. It’s time to” ( :137)

Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

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