Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be

The best gifts I have received recently have been books passed on from special people. Books which touch and affect you in a certain way, and make you want to pick up the giver in a big squeeze of thankfulness for being kind enough to think of you and pass it on.

‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’ is Paul Arden’s mini wonder book about making the most of yourself. As the sub-line says, it’s ‘The World’s Best Selling Book’, and that is exactly the author’s case in point. Although written for those in the creative industry it applies amazing well to life in general by being full of positive advice that you already knew deep down, but had somehow lost along the way.

“Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you… Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership. They are not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating by on the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up.”

People are always anxious to be doing the right thing (whatever that is anyway!). One of the most important ideas to take away from the book is to avoid looking back into the past; we should always be concentrating on the now. Sometimes it’s hard not to look back into the past wondering ‘I shoulda, coulda, woulda’ (cannot express more thanks to little Eds for that one). Equally as hard is not to have some kind of outlook for the future. 

But worrying is futile; what does it achieve, apart from a splitting migraine? Worried about a future job? Concentrate on doing things now that can get you there: don’t think “We’ll make the next [job] good. Whatever is on your desk now, that’s the one. Make it the best you possibly can.” As Arden also says: “Being wrong isn’t anywhere but being here. Best place to be eh?” As a self confessed worrier, I have found this to be the best piece of advice to soothe a worried soul and it rings true with another book, ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, which preaches similar ideas.

As with life and all advice, we have to negotiate a myriad of contradictions. But life isn't supposed to be easy: "Failures and false starts are a precondition of success". Arden, regarded as the top dog in the field of advertising before his death in 2008, was himself fired five times. 

As a book that can be easily read in a single hour sitting, Arden encourages us to aim for our highest goal. If a stranger and a piece of work can remind me to try my best and quit worrying in less than an hour then I hope to pass this book on to the next special person.

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