Book Review Success Built to Last

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SUCCESS BUILT TO LAST: Creating A Life That Matters
By Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson


Success Built to Last builds on over 200 interviews with highly successful people to discern patterns on how they define success and how they achieved it. The authors spoke to remarkable people that were trimmed down from initial thousand lists to hundreds who were able to sustain success for over a 20 year period. The interviewees were Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer, Grammy, Peabody and Grammy award winners as well as CEOs from small and big companies. The group was comprised of people from diverse industries, interests and gender, and majority was over the age of 40 with 95 being the oldest.

The main idea of the book was that success is the alignment of 3 important elements: Meaning (what you do should matter deeply to you, it is something that you should be passionate about), Thought Style (the highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion, and responsible optimism), and Action (finding effective ways to take action). When all these 3 elements are aligned, then success that lasts is achieved as discussed in Chapter 1.

To thoroughly discuss each of these important elements, the authors divided the book into 3 parts. Each part defined each element and included accounts or interviews from the resource persons. In the book, the name ‘Builders’ were given to connote these highly successful people so throughout the reading the regard is constantly encountered. They are the people who came from humble beginnings but became known due to their creativity, thus they are compelled to try and introduce something new. They are simply the people who tried to make a difference and they succeed.

The first element Meaning is discussed in Part I which is comprised of 3 chapters. The following are the brief summary of each chapter in Part I: Chapter 2 (Love it or Lose it – Passion and the Quest for Meaning), relates a harsh truth that of an individual does not love what he/she does, he/she will lose to someone who does. A person who is not half-hearted about their work and relationship will work harder and longer than the person who is actually half-hearted. Chapter 3 (Portfolio of Passions – It’s not About Balance), negates the common notion that a person must find ‘balance’ in his or her life. The term ‘balance’ here is in the context of equally dividing one’s time in a different activities or tasks, etc., the way it is usually defined. This chapter defines ‘balance’ as the person’s search for a meaningful portfolio not a balanced one. Successful people do not raise balance as a major issue because they are busy doing what really matters to them. Builders can have various passions but the sense of meaning that it gives to them is the balance that they are seeking. Chapter 4 (Why Successful People Stay Successful – Integrity to Meaning), deals with the common value that all successful people share. It is integrity (personal meaning) to what matters to them, a value that makes the difference in their lives and work. Builders do not waste their time with things that do not matter to them. They are always driving for meaning, work towards it, and make things happen to achieve it.

Part II centers its four chapters on the Thought Style element in the success built to last. Chapter 5 (The Silent Scream – Why it’s So Damn Hard to Do What Matters), reveals that there is actually a ‘voice’ or referred by the authors as ‘silent scream’ that tells a person what really matters to them. The ‘silent scream’ leads to happy endings once a person listens to its calling and responds through action. It is the little voice within every individual that tells us what we really love to do and what gives meaning to us. However, not everyone listens and hears it, thus, success is not achieved. Moreover, this chapter also identified reasons why sometimes this calling is neglected which the authors called as...
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