Start (Escape Average, Do work that Matters); notes

Jon Acuff is a New York Times bestselling author.  The book Start; Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work That Matters.

The intro on the inside of the book cover says it this way:

No one aims for average, No one sets to for status quo, No one longs for ordinary.  But one day you wake up and ask yourself, How did I get here?  You wonder if there is a way to be more awesome, more often.  A way to punch fear in the face, escape average, and do work that matters

There is, and it’s not even that complicated.  Since the dawn of time, every wildly successful life has gone through the same five stages.  They used to be tied to your age.

  • 20’s–Learning
  • 30’s–Editing
  • 40’s–Mastering
  • 50’s–Harvesting
  • 60’s–Guiding

But the great news it’s no longer about when you were born; it’s about when you decide to live. You don’t have to be in your 20’s to learn, and you don’t have to be in your 50’s to harvest.

It used to be that your 20’s was a time to go to college, the military, or find a job.  You spent that time exploring and learning.  Then you move into your 30’s and you take what worked well and what you liked in your 20’s and started pairing it down to the most important things.  Such as career, relationships, and every other part of your life. Then you get to your 40’s.  You now started mastering things such as your career, your marriage, raising your children.  You have greater awareness and certainty about your life. Then you make it to your 50’s all of the seeds you planted in your 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s started blooming.  In your 60’s you started giving back and helping others.  This is the path that most people take, this is the path to average.

  • The only thing you have to do on the path to average is not die.
  • The average path os the easier of two paths, and its dangerously comfortable.
  • The path is to awesome is dangerous as well, but it is right now awesome.

The internet revolution isn’t over, it’s just getting started.

I’m not a futurist, I’m a presentist.

Regardless of your age you just have to start.

The first step isn’t easy.  You have to be a realist and a dreamer, practical and impractical, and logical and illogical.

To start: 

  • Find your true purpose
  • Be your true purpose
  • Live your purpose
  • Repeat as necessary

Living with purpose allows you to 

  • Start today
  • Start where you are
  • Start on what matters to you

Forget finding purpose.  It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty.  Live with purpose instead.

We all have to go through the stages learning, editing, mastering, harvesting, and guiding. However, we have the potential to accelerate them like never before.  Here are four ways:

  • Start earlier
  • Stand on the shoulders of giants
  • Work harder and smarter
  • Harvest someone else’s fields

The second you choose to be more awesome, fear will ask you a question: “Who are you to that?”

To start:  All you need to do is commit 30 minutes in a week.  This is a good starting point for anyone.   Get up before everyone else does, or stay up late.

  • Nobody gets up early on the road to average.  Nobody stays up late on the road to average.

Ask yourself this:  “If I died today, what would I regret not being able to do?”  2nd question: Are those things I’m spending time doing right now?

The new definition of volunteer is any activity that lets you trade time for expertise.

The book takes you through the five stages and gives you a play-by-play on how to approach each area and focus on results.  The underlying theme of the book is we all must go through each of the five stages, but how quickly we go through them is up to us.

Here are some additional highlights of the book from me.

  • What gives you the most joy?
  • Content is king.  Content is currency.
  • Unless you’re dead right now, it’s never too late.
  • If you don’t kill your voices, they will kill you.
  • Some people have two speeds.  Waste all of my time or try to be impossibly perfect with my time.
  • We each have a reservoir of will and discipline. and it is depleted by any act of conscious self-regulation, whether that is resisting a cookie, solving a puzzle, or doing anything else that requires an effort.

To manage you willpower and discipline:

  • Get up earlier because you want the best shot at success.
  • Get up earlier because you want to access your best willpower.
  • Get up earlier because you want the way your brain works and the way your physiology reacts to be your friend, not your foe.
  • Be a student of you.  We usually don’t take enough time to study ourselves.
  • Don’t allow the size of the crowd to determine your awesomeness.
  • You should never chase awesome with someone else’s definition.
  • To become an expert you must do reps.  Repetitions. Repetitions, Repetitions.
  • In 1968 Andy Worhol said in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.
  • Joy is an incredible alarm clock. 
  • Helped people help people.
  • The talent we have the hardest time recognizing is our own.  As author Derek Stivers says, the way you look at the world is obvious to you, but often amazing to others. You cant see it because you have seen it for years, if not you whole life.  But for other people.  You awesome is fresh and new and worthy of being shared.  
  • Learning allows us to transcend our genes.

What I liked most about this book is that Jon is so on point with all of the things we each feel when we are starting something new.  He is so on point with the way you might feel right this moment about your life.  I have been there and he has been there, but the difference between average and awesome is to start.

To your success and your future.



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