I remember how I purchased this book – it was from app sumo and it was one of those promotions of getting the book for free if you pay shipping and handling (which I later learned is actually a marketing trick). I was quite excited because I had listened to the school of greatness podcast for a while and well, just love non-fiction books so I wanted to learn what Lewis Howes has learned from his interviews with hugely successful celebrities, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The School of Greatness book focuses on eight key lessons and homework for each lesson:

Create a vision

I learned that many, many successful entrepreneurs, business leaders and athletes have a vision for what they want to become. They identify early on that where they are now isn’t what they will always be and they take specific steps, based on their vision, to what they want to become.

Homework – create a vision:

  • Write out three goals that you want to achieve in the next 6 – 12 months
  • Write out four steps that you will take towards achieving those goals
  • Realize that the goal is not as important as the person you become when you work towards that goal

The obstacle becomes the way

Everyone faces a challenge, adversity or setback in their lives. Average people use that setback as an excuse that they weren’t able to achieve their potential. Great people use the setback as an opportunity to become even better. What is the difference between a setback and an opportunity? The way you see it and your perspective. You get into an accident and you have to pay for the damages to your car while running a business? This could be a setback. It could also be seen as an opportunity for you to increase sales in your business or to operate in a lean manner.

Homework – turning adversity into advantage:

  • Write down the setbacks that you have experienced in the past
  • Write down how you have gone through these setbacks in the past – did you ignore them? Did you avoid them?
  • What would happen if you experienced the same or similar setbacks in the future? How will you handle them?
  • Realize that all setbacks are inevitable but that you have a plan for handling these challenges

Develop a champion’s mindset

I remember an anecdote that an NBA player shared while being interviewed by James Altucher. James asked him if there was a difference between Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan because he had played against both of them. He said that Michael Jordan was scarier to play against. When asked why, he said that Michael Jordan had this fiery passion that was unmatched by anyone else in the league. Michael was a competitor and he wanted to beat everyone. He was so competitive that he would find a way to beat his competitors no matter what.

Homework – develop a champion’s mindset:

  • Practice meditation – it helps you to get into the flow of things and keep your mind on the present moment
  • Practice deep breathing – breathe in for five seconds, hold for two seconds, breathe out for eight seconds

Develop hustle

Everybody starts out somewhere. And there is nothing wrong with starting out at the bottom (everyone starts out somewhere). Daymond John was selling clothing to anyone who would buy it before he managed to get his hat to LL Cool J and hit it big. Richard Branson chartered a flight and sold tickets to everyone whose flight dropped and this became the seed for Virgin Airlines.

Homework – developing hustle:

  • Every single day, do something that expands your comfort zone. Your greatest accomplishments lie just outside your comfort zone.
  • Focus on your body, your mindset, your relationships and your skills – what can you do to expand your health? What can you do to improve your mindset (and learn something new)? What can you do to improve your current relationships? Or to develop a new beneficial relationship? What skills do you currently have? What skills do you want to learn?

Your physical health

The more time and focus you spend on your health, the more life you will have. I often find that on the days that I exercise in the morning, I have a lot more energy and focus throughout the day.

Homework – get active:

  • Don’t have a lot of time to exercise? Try interval training.
  • Don’t eat junk food that you will end up working off later – eat healthy, clean food to fuel your body

Practice positive habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, it’s a habit – Aristotle. What do you do every single day? What do you do more often than other things? Are you reading? Exercising? Binge watching Netflix? I bet you can tell who the most successful individuals are if you broke down in terms of hours or percentages of what they do in a week and you can probably tell me what they might look like, what their mindset is, how healthy they are and many other things just by those activities. If you see someone working 40 hours a week, watching Netflix when they get back home, eating and sleeping and not doing very much on the weekends, they likely are very comfortable with where they are – it could be that they are happy with what they are doing or it could be that they are too comfortable where they are. If you see someone working 40 hours a week, reading books on the weekend, working on projects in their free time, exercising in the mornings, these are individuals who are interested in growing and improving themselves. They likely have an end goal in mind, are ambitious and focus on their health. Who would you rather be?

Homework – examine what you do:

  • Try this activity – for a week, every 10 minutes, write down what you are doing. Are you watching Youtube videos? Are you reading blog posts?
  • Once you have this either written down (or better yet, typed out into a spreadsheet), you can take a look at which things are positive and adding to your life and what activities may not be adding to your life that you want. Are you watching a little too much Netflix on the weekends? What else can you do with that time? Could you combine the Netflix time with working out (say walking on a treadmill or riding a bike?) Make it a goal to transform one habit into something positive.

Who is on your team?

After reading Open by Andre Agassi, it opened my eyes to the idea that behind almost every successful athlete, entrepreneur or business leader, there is a team of individuals that support their strengths and cover their weaknesses. From what I remember, Andre had a strength and fitness coach, a nutrition coach, basically a whole team of individuals who were focused on transforming Andre into getting into the best shape of his life so that he can be the best tennis player that he could possibly be.

Who is on your team? Who should be on your team? Do you have a number of individuals helping you out in getting to the top? Why or why not?

Homework – build a winning team:

  • What is your vision? How will you get there? Who can you ‘recruit’ onto your team to help you reach that goal?
  • Consider joining or creating a mastermind group. A mastermind group is one where you get together with like-minded individuals to help each other by coming together (could be in-person or virtually) and provide accountability to each other in reaching your goals.

A life of service

An act of service has many benefits but the one that struck out in my mind was something that James Clear wrote about which was that people who contribute live longer than those who consume. What this means to me is that as much as possible, we should focus on contributing whether it’s creating articles, building homes, handing soup out to those less fortunate. If you are fortunate to have done well for yourself, and I see this with a lot of the wealthiest individuals in the world, they give back in some way.

Homework – find something you can do to give back:

  • It does not have to be a big act but think about a talent you have or knowledge that you have gained and how you may be able to help others just starting out
  • Do the act right away!

Overall, I found this book to be a great book in reinforcing the ideas that I already had established in my mind. What lessons did you learn? What actions are you going to take as a result?


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