Every once in a while, I come across to book that really strikes a chord with me. It becomes one of those books that I recommend everybody, and makes it onto my short list of books to reread.
There Is No Plan B for Your a Game by Bo Eason is one of those books.
I still remember going through the exercises in this book, and making an actual sketch of myself on the stage, surrounded by people who wanted the listen to me speak. I signed my name beneath a statement that said, “I will be the best storyteller.”
This is not a book about finding your purpose per se, but it helped me find my purpose. Now I will admit that my purpose has changed over the years, and I have refined the idea of being the best storyteller to something more specific, but that doesn’t stop this book from being a huge influence on me.
So how can it help you find your purpose? Well, let’s walk through the key takeaways here.
Who is Bo Eason?
First, who is Bo Eason? Bo is a former NFL player who played safety for four seasons with the Houston Oilers, and was later transferred to the San Francisco 49ers before his career ended after a knee injury.
Following his injury, he decided to become an actor. I know that’s probably not the thing you would think of as the next step for a football player, but it was a great way for Bo to channel his inner aggression that had no outlet following the end of his football career.
But would eventually go on to create a one man play called Runt of the Litter, which received huge critical acclaim.
Now Bo Eason is a motivational speaker and author of this book. His main theme is about how to become the best at something, especially when the odds are stacked against you as they were for him at the beginning of his football career as well as in theater.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from this book.
The Runt of the Litter
Bo starts with the story of his own life, where he refers to himself as the “runt of the litter.”
The idea here is that the runt of the litter is the one that has to work hardest, and often on a farm, that runt will be the next sheepdog because of the effort that it had to put in. That effort made it stronger and better.
This is also the theme of Bo’s one man play, which was loosely based on his own life. He was the runt of the litter, and he had to work harder than anyone else to achieve his dreams. But doing so taught him many important principles of life.
It taught him how to be the best at anything that he set his mind to.
the central thought of this entire book, and the one that impacted me the most, is the idea of writing down a declaration. This declaration must include the words “the best.”
Say you want to be the best at something tells you exactly what you have to be. It leaves no room for doubt that what you must do to accomplish that. If you just say you want to be a good piano player, that could mean anything. But if you say you want to be the best piano player, now you know exactly the level of skill that you will need to have.
This is not something that will happen overnight. It’s not supposed to. This is merely a tool that you put in place in order to help yourself stretch and move outside of your comfort zone.
When our founding fathers created the Declaration of Independence, they didn’t say that it would be nice to be free from taxation or British control, they didn’t ask politely if the king would just leave them alone. No, they declared their independence. And that declaration has had a ripple effect that extends to this day. People follow declarations.
So what is your declaration? What do you want to be the best at?
A 20 Year Plan
Pursuing a declaration like this is not something to be taken lightly. It will take time, at least 20 years according to Bo Eason.
Eason uses 20 years as the baseline for mastery. Some people follow the 10,000 hour rule, some 20,000 hour rule, but if you are working hard every day towards mastery, chances are it will be about 15 to 20 years before you can truly master that thing.
This is a lesson that Bo Eason learned from none other than Al Pacino, who mentored Bo early on in his theatrical career. Pacino told him that in order to be the best, it would take him at least 15 years, and that’s 15 years of being on stage every single moment that he could get.
I find this concept to be rather freeing. I don’t need to worry about overnight success. I don’t need to worry that I’m not seeing a lot of progress in the short term. Because progress doesn’t happen in the short term, it takes time.
Now, if you were working towards a goal for 20 years, chances are you will achieve huge success long before those 20 years are up. But success is not the goal here, being the best is.
Plus, having a 20 year commitment is a good way of testing yourself on whether your declaration is a good one. If you have chosen the wrong declaration, sooner or later you will figure that out, because you are not be willing to put in 20 years of hard effort to achieve mastery in that thing.
I love the finality of the statement would Bo Eason says that when you dismiss someone success as being based on natural talent, you “slit your own throat.”
Think about that.
If you are saying that someone success is based on natural talent, what are you saying about yourself?
You are saying that you don’t have a chance of achieving that thing because you don’t have natural talent.
Well the truth is, there is no such thing as natural talent. With a few minor outliers, most people can do almost anything they set their mind to do. Everyone starts from zero. That means that you, yes you, can do anything.
Now it might be hard. You might be the runt of the litter as Bo Eason was, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond your reach.
You have to trained to be successful. Every single success story you have ever seen has a mountain of training and practice and sweat that went into it.
You have to be committed, you have to work hard. But after working every day towards your declaration for 20 years, when you have finally achieved mastery, do you know what people will say? They will say that you are naturally talented.
So don’t be one of the many that say that. Choose to stand out and be the person who practices to gain a skill, the one who knows that talent is overrated.
Obstacles Are the Way
A common theme in many of these books on purpose that we have covered is the idea that obstacles are what make you great.
If you choose to be the best at something, once you’ve made that declaration you will find obstacles coming from all sides.
Life is difficult. But the moment we can accept that is the moment when it no longer matters.
We see this in storytelling all the time. Think of your favorite superhero or other fictional protagonist. Why do we like them? Is it because they had it easy, they are living the life of our dreams? Of course not. We like them because of the obstacles they have overcome. We like them because they stand up to adversity.
It’s time for you to be that hero.
Rules to Live By
In one of the final chapters of Bo Eason’s book, he gives us 16 rules to live by. Let’s briefly walk through all 16 of these.
- Rule #1: I Know There’s No Plan B for My A-Game: you have to keep the right mindset that you are all in on plan A. You have to burn the boats so there is no escape plan.
- Rule #2: I Will Be Unreasonable: people who are unreasonable get things done. If you are worrying too much about what people think, you will never achieve excellence. Be bold. Be unreasonable.
- Rule #3: I Know There’s Only One Way Out – Quit: understand that you can only have one way out, one Plan B, and that is to quit. If you’re not willing to quit, then keep moving on.
- Rule #4: I Will Only Work with the Best: you will never be able to achieve the best unless you are trained by people that are better than you. So find the best at what you want to do and learn from them. If you can afford to work with them directly, read their books, listen to their interviews, do whatever you can to learn from those people.
- Rule #5: I Won’t Go It Alone: ultimately, you will not be able to do this alone. As Bo Eason says in his book, “Frank Sinatra did not move pianos.” We need to focus on what we do best, and attract others who can support us in that quest.
- Rule #6: I Will Live Beyond My Current Capacity: we have to constantly be pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone in order to grow. That’s the central idea behind living beyond your current capacity.
- Rule #7: I Won’t Allow Wimpy-Ass Timelines: were not striving for excellence in 30 days. We’re in it for the long haul. We want to go for 15 to 20 years to achieve mastery.
- Rule #8: I Will Stay Wild: approach life like a predator, or you are out to get your goal. In other words, sees life by the throat.
- Rule #9: I’m a Player, Not a Fan: a player and a fan approach the same thing from completely different angles. If you are constantly acting like a fan, you will never be a player.
- Rule #10: I Won’t Let the Ball Touch the Ground: always hold yourself to a higher standard.
- Rule #11: I’ll Be the First One on the Field and the Last One Off: in order to be the best you have to be working hard, harder than anyone else. You need to be first on the field and the last off.
- Rule #12: I Will Keep a Generous Spirit: in order to be the best you have to be the best at giving. The universe is reciprocal, and the more you give the more you receive.
- Rule #13: I’ll Live in the World of My Dreams, Not My Distractions: in order to be the best you have to live in your dreams. You cannot allow yourself to be distracted by commonalities of the day. You have to stay focused.
- Rule #14: I’ll Be a Champion at Recovery: anytime you work hard you need recovery. This is true of the physical body, and it is true of the mind. Whatever you do, make sure you spend time at rest.
- Rule #15: I Will Never Move a Piano: this goes back to the rule of not going alone. Whatever you’re good at, do that thing. Allow others to do the supporting tasks. If you play piano, let someone else move it for you.
- Rule #16: I Will Get a Dawn: Dawn is Bo Eason’s wife, and a significant partner in his business. She is one of the people that allows him to focus on what matters most for him. Find someone who can be that Dawn for you.
Did any of these rules stand out? If so, find a way to apply them to yourself.