Book Review: "Start" by Jon Acuff

Books are incredible things, wouldn't you agree?

Some have the ability to take us to exciting new worlds full of magic and wonder. Others teach us new ideas, perspectives and skills. Books can compress decades worth of knowledge and experience into a relatively small number of pages.

If you were to look at my reading list, you would see dozens of personal development books. They're my favorite genre, but my all-time favorite books are those that inspire me to take action in my life.

"Start" by Jon Acuff is one of those books.

In 2017, I had several dreams for my life, but I couldn't seem to take action towards any of them. I wanted to start a blog, but I didn't think I had a message to share. I wanted to explore becoming a coach, a speaker, and an author, but I didn't believe I had enough experience to get started. I was afraid to deviate from my path.

But then I read "Start," and my life changed forever. The subtitle, "Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters," pretty much says it all, but I want to tell you why this book was so powerful to me.

Acuff begins by highlighting five steps to achieving an awesome life: Learning, editing, mastering, harvesting and guiding. Until technology changed the pace at which we progress through the stages, they consistently aligned with our ages for generations.

Austin Bollinger

In our 20s, we learned. We went to college, got our first jobs, or joined the military. It was in this decade that we were on a path of self-discovery.

In our 30s, we began to edit our lives. We were still learning, but we began to focus on a few key things that worked well in our 20s while removing things that didn't serve us.

In our 40s, we had great certainty about what we were good at, and we began to master a few things that we excelled at in our 30s.

In our 50s, we were finally the experts in our fields and began making the most money we had ever made.

Finally, in our 60s, we entered the guiding stage that brings retirement and mentoring.

If these steps on the path to awesome are so clearly understood, why don't more people become awesome? Simple, there are two paths: a narrow, hilly path that leads to awesome and a broad, flat path that leads to average.

Unfortunately, the easy path is the one that most take.

Why? Because most people fear the ups and downs that the awesome path may present, so they coast through life, never daring to believe in themselves.

Acuff points out that, today, the path to awesome looks a little different. While the five stages remain the same, the timeline can be very different.

The rise in technology has accelerated learning and created new opportunities (while eliminating others). We can now learn anything we want, from anywhere in the world. Today, becoming awesome is open to anyone at any age. All one has to do is be willing to start, or in some cases, start over.

If you're 45 and looking for a career change because you don't love what you do, if you're in your mid-30s and feel lost or without a purpose, or if you're 52 and suddenly find yourself in an obsolete career, then it's time to start.

However, Acuff argues that to start, you have to be a starter -- someone who is flexible, brave, realistic, and hard-working. If achieving a life of awesome was easy, everyone would be doing it.

"Regardless of your age or situation in life, it all comes down to one simple truth: you just have to start," Acuff writes.

When I read those words, something happened inside of me that I can't explain. I didn't want to be average. I wanted to be brave and build a life that I would love to live. So, I put my fear and doubt aside, and I started.

I started my blog and my podcast. I started (and have since finished) writing my first book. I've started speaking and coaching people in my community. I'm now walking the path to awesome, but I don't think it would have ever happened if I had not read this book.

While there is so much more, I want to end on one of my favorite quotes from the book, "Action always beats intention."

If you're reading this and have a dream that you're afraid to pursue or feel like you need a change in your life, grab a copy of "Start." Don't wait to discover your purpose. Instead, dive into this book and start living your life with purpose. Start.

Austin Bollinger is and author, podcast host and vice president of strategic development at Creative Edge Inc.