Paul Arden’s Surprisingly Thoughtful Motivational Tract

It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be is another title that most people would naturally tune out (especially if they’d actually enjoy the book).

Arden’s book is short and tightly edited. The features big text, lots of whitespace, sudden pictures, emphatic headlines—it’s like a really, really good Tumblr.

Arden’s Big Idea is that you should focus, hard, on the big idea. He wants failures to be glorious and successes to come in way over budget. He wants toes stepped on, he wants mistakes made, and he wants it all forgotten the next day.

Arden was lucky enough to be enormously talented, and he surrounded himself with more of the same. If you run a group of brilliant people that way (and the economy is booming, and you have someone else paying the bills or juggling the books), that kind of thing works.

Otherwise, you just get lots of people trying too hard to be different, and not trying hard enough to do what works.

Take this tribute video, for example:

Blah, blah, blah. Twenty three words, and I’m already bored. Sticky notes. I get it. On someone’s face. I don’t get it.

I’m sure the video was heartfelt. Maybe it was too creative for me.

But maybe being as “good as you want to be” means recognizing your limits, and working with what you know brings results, not with what you think might impress people impressed with flights of creativity.

(This is another “short, reasonably profound books, mostly about advertising.” The previous installment in that series was Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody”.)

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| September 22nd, 2009 | Posted in Advertising |