Book Review: Start by Jon Acuff
I think we all have been guilty at one time of another of just idly dreaming about wanting to do something, whether it’s apply for a promotion or start a new business. This book is about moving beyond the dreaming stage and into the actual doing stage.
Jon Acuff is a funny and engaging writer, and this book was a really easy read. It’s full of advice of the sage and practical variety. It’s a great book for anyone who wants to stop talking about their idea, and start actually doing something about it – which is why the title is so apt. It’s filled with Acuff’s personal experiences and advice, and I like the fact he doesn’t hold back on showing himself in a bad light.
Acuff argues that when we’re perfecting our knowledge and experience in any given field, we move through five stages: learning; editing; mastering; harvesting and guiding. I love the assertion of this book that we can go through these five stages in one field, and then decide we want to do something else, so go back to the learning stage in another field. Or, we change our minds at the learning stage and decide to go back to square one with something else.
There’s a part near the beginning of the book where Acuff talks about faking his own death. Not in the literal sense; he imagined himself dying in a plane crash, and what that would mean for him; what would he miss out on? When he had listed the things he would miss out on by dying right now, his next question was: am I doing those things right now? Because realistically, the old line “you could be run over by a bus tomorrow” is true. And shouldn’t we all have that at the top of our minds every day? We all get so caught up in all of this rubbish and nonsense that’s actually about a hundred miles away from what we will regret not doing on our death beds. So we should all just get on and do what we want to do.
That’s the basic premise of this book, only Acuff wrote his version better, with better stories and better words and more of an idea!
He also talks about the difference between looking at your life and thinking, How did I get here! with a sense of wonderment at how great it all is… and the alternate, How did I get here? with that sense of misery one feels when they wake up one day and realise they’ve been to Burger King College and are in danger of actually making fast food a career (that last one actually happened to me). I love that as a way of defining what we should all be looking for in our lives. The difference, essentially, between a question mark and an exclamation mark.
There is an appendix at the back of the book entitled “10 Ways to Accelerate Awesome With Social Media” which is exactly the right kind of appendix I like to read. The second appendix is “10 Things To Do If You’re Unemployed” which are actually really useful, practical tips for someone who’s between jobs right now. The kind of thing that should be printed and handed out and Job Centre appointments.
All in all, I think this is a great book for someone who feels like their life isn’t really going in the direction they want it to. It’s great for inspiring you, and keeping you inspired. I might read it again!
Thanks for reading.