It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be is a book by an accomplished British ad man, Paul Arden. This book is a guide to success in the advertising business, with several analogies applicable in real life.
Everybody seems to have an opinion on how you can reach your full potential. Paul Arden is not everybody.
Permit me to use a cliché you might be tired of hearing already, but the world has become a global village.
This means that you are no longer in competition with the best student in your class or district.
Your competition these days are a computer whiz kid from China, a farm boy from Texas crushing it at Caltech, or an African prodigy on a full scholarship at Harvard.
Talent can only get you so far; you need to want it enough.
Three valuable lessons I learned from this book were to:
1. Be ambitious.
2. Work towards your goals.
3. Be prepared to fail.
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Lesson One: Be ambitious
The most successful people have found a working formula – the right mix of talent and ambition. Talent alone can only get you so far. It is no coincidence that the smartest people you knew in school are not the most successful in the real world.
How much ambition is enough ambition, though?
Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, was not shooting for the stars when she said she wanted to be as popular as Persil Automatic, one of the most popular detergents in England. Victoria wanted to be a household name, instead of being a musical giant alone.
She was shooting past the stars, and she hit her target. So can anyone who dares to dream.
Lesson Two: Work towards your goals
After you have your sights set on your goal, the next part is working towards it.
These three traits cannot be divorced from any success story.
Accountability means that you hold yourself to the highest standard – not slacking off.
You can achieve this by having a team of able and honest people around you, helping you in the right direction.
Open-mindedness means you are ready to share your ideas, and hopefully, polish them to remove irrelevant parts. The ones you keep to yourself will become stale in their embryonic phase.
There are always positives in every situation, and you should be the first to see those.
Even though it might be overselling your idea, but ultimately, the message is passed across. It is in simple things like saying that a car can drive across the country with a full tank, instead of merely saying that it is fuel-efficient.
Lesson Three: Be prepared to fail
Anybody that ever made it to the top has some stories of past failures to share.
After Thomas Edison finally got the electrical bulb to work, he reflected that he had gotten clues and insights from the thousands of ideas that did not work.
Note: As an innovator, failures are inevitable, but how you tackle them is vital. When you run out of ideas, you can step out, take a walk, try the absurd.
It could just be your own “Fat Bastard Chardonnay” – an atypical name for a bottle of wine, but that is a huge part of the reason this brand is successful globally.
My Personal Takeaway
My personal takeaway from reading this book is that if it works, it works. It does not matter if it is in advertising or real-life; a winning formula applies everywhere.
Put into Action
1. Be creative.
2. Be prepared to put in the work.
3. Leave room for collaboration.
4. Be open-minded.
5. Be accountable.
6. Develop a positive outlook.
7. Allow for some out of the box thinking.
This book is a good read for anyone that needs pointers to a successful life. When you take the book literally, it is an excellent guide for a growing advertising agency also.
We put a glass ceiling on what we can achieve with our ambitions. If it does not appear to be out of reach, you need to dream bigger.
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