Book Review: 8 to Be Great by Richard St. John
This book “8 to Be Great” comes with the tagline “The 8-Traits That Lead to Great Success”
When it comes to self help for success, there are various books and authors, who repeat the same things – in different ways. And then there are fads that erupt from time to time like the “10,000 hours rule” popularised by Malcom Gladwell in his wonderful book “Outliers”, only to be debunked by the original researcher of the 10,000 hours, Ericsson, who said its not number of hours that matters, but the nature of practice – smart practice, deliberate practice, special practice. So, even if you have driven your car for 20,000 hours on the busy streets of a metropolis that won’t make you ready to participate in Formula One.
The point is, whenever you come across the self-help / motivation books, and have felt the urge to say, “cut the crap”, then this is the book to read. The author, by training is an industrial designer, and have worked in fields of marketing and communication for technology companies. This book is based on his over 500 face to face interviews with successful people including the pioneers like Bill Gates, Founders of Google, Richard Branson, and other CEOs, celebraties, billionairs.
This book is a result of analysis of key words – an approach that is unique to this genre. These are the words or factors that the successful people assigned their success to. The author drilled down from over 300 success factor to eight factors. Accordingly, apart from these eight, the others are secondary factors. It is these eight that are the core factors of success. These eight factors are: Passion, Work, Focus, Push, Ideas, Improve, Serve, and Persist. The author then goes on to detailed exposition of the key-word by refering to the interviews.
Now, if we just read the key-word, plain and simple, then one can very well be reminded of various articles / phrases that speak different voices or plain opposite to the importance of these words. For example:
Passion: Passion is not enough.
Focus: Focus is overrated
and so on. And each of the opposing perspectives can be backed by research or personal experience. However, when we read books we must remember the perspective of the author and why he is saying what he is saying. And in this, the raison d’être of these eight traits is that these traits have consistently worked for the people who are successful. Successful – as the usual understanding of the term goes in the society ie. professional and financial success.
The concepts have been dealt in a very interesting manner. To give an example, we know about division of labour and also concept and reasons for delegating. In this book, it’s a down to earth way of putting it – in the section on “Improve”, it speaks of “Focus on your strengths”, and “Outsource your weakness”. So, either one fixes the thing in which one is weak, or outsources the work in which one is weak. Along with the interesting way the concepts and the explanations are provided, I loved the layout of the book. It comes with illustrations in red and black, that makes the book more pleasant to read.
It may well be possible that a particular concept that has worked for one may not work for others, it’s only, that the concept has worked for the people who have been interviewed by the author. For example, two people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who had completely different backgrounds, outlook, situation and approach, yet they succeeded in the same industry. One can very well think of various such contrasting personalities who have been successful in the same sphere of work.
But whatever, it’s difficult to argue with these eight keywords. And, even if one is able to successfully argue with these eight keywords, they would always be part of that small minority, whose lone voices do not travel far.
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