Friday, September 21, 2007

The Greatness Guide: Book review

Robin Sharma, the leadership guru, who was catapulted into worldwide fame with his book ‘Monk who sold his Ferrari’, has added another feather to his cap with his next book ‘The Greatness Guide’. This book will appeal to his ardent fans while broadening his admirer base. His compilation of keen observations and inferences make it worth a read and a re-read. The ideas in the book are provocative and high-impact challenging one to lay claim on greatness. Contrary to the extremely idealistic ideas presented in the previous book, ‘The Greatness Guide’ is practical and the ideas detailed can be effectively put into practice in daily life.

The ideas in the book are divided into 101 chapters thus proffering a to-do list of ‘101 things’ for achieving greatness. This is not a book to be read like novel but a chapter a day can give you daily dose of greatness. Each chapter is self contained and discusses an idea by illustrating them with germane quotes and adages by the greats of the world. The content of the book is a good collection of practices of the known greats and anecdotes from author’s own experience. He delivers small but priceless tit-bits in a platter where you just need to pick and choose the dish you want to commence your meal of greatness with.

The language used in the book and the way of writing is admiringly "simple". The book is easily understandable as it is written in a manner that seems like Sharma wants to personally sit and talk to you over a cup of coffee. Sharma’s wisdom is framed in an accessible way and can influence a reader at any level. Sharma reconfirms that there is no Prof. Dumbledore’s magic potion with the help of which one achieves greatness but at the same time, his ideas emphatically tell you that no Lord Voldemort has to be vanquished to attain greatness. Doing the few simple things excellently and regularly is the key.

On the downside, there are plenty of repetitions throughout the book. This might feel like a flaw but it does help in drilling down the more important points. Further, though the small chapters keep the lessons precise and simple, you may soon forget few as you read ahead for the reason that lesser the time you linger on an idea, sooner you forget. Furthermore, though the book has its singularity, it is reminiscent of few other self help / motivational books.

I suggest you to read the book with the purpose of knowing what you need to be like ‘Bono’, a brand like ‘Diddy’, speak like a Superstar and act like a rock star. Also read it to think like a CEO while leading without title, adding value to clients and be a “Merchant of wow”.

You would have already heard lots of advices in the book before like I have and thus to me, the book was a wake up call to just do what I already know. This book in plain and simple terms told me to stop procrastinating and start climbing the ladder to greatness. If you are the kind who just brushes off counsels, then this book will not be of much help. It tells you what to do and how to do it but doesn’t force you enough to do it. The person with a little motivation in himself can go great lengths with the ideas in the book.

There are a few counsels I disagree with like “Work Hard, Get lucky”. This mantra alone will not suffice to get stuff done; you need to add a dash of smartness to get lucky. I would rather say “Work smart, Get lucky”. Though I closed the book with my own doubts on few things he said, I had a clear picture and an adequate list of things to do.

The author, being a leadership guru for various multinationals provides massive inputs on customer satisfaction and enjoying work. Sharma says “Customers buy with their hearts”, which can be understood as “move the chords of human emotions and they will be with you forever”. Give the clients what they want and something extra, add a freebie, celebrate the clients’ achievement and you are guaranteed projects.
Contrary to the popular notion that leader is one who is liked by all, Robin claims in “Leadership isn’t a popularity contest” that being a leader is not about being liked but only about doing the right things. No wonder the majority hate their bosses.
In “The Innovator’s mantra”, the author says ‘The enemy of the best is good’. A brilliant thought. This statement bluntly dares one to make things better than before. The bottom line is let innovation be your heartbeat.

From the personal viewpoint, there are many perfect ideas to be instituted in our system. Sharma’s quote "As you live your hours, so you create your years. As you live your days, so you craft your life." made me realize the moments I have just let pass by lying down and staring at the ceiling. It should be action time every minute. He stresses as much on slowing down sometimes to think ahead and meditate but he never mentions the word ‘stop’. I learnt that my hours make up my life rather than days and years.
I have learnt that I may do best when I am faced with the worst as Sharma so wisely says "Great achievement often happens when our backs are up against the wall."
In “Drink Coffee with Gandhi”, the author says that reading a book by someone you respect allows some of their brilliance to rub off on you. In "Your Schedule Doesn't Lie," Sharma pin points the need to schedule and prioritize the things you really want to do in your life.
“Be a merchant of Wow” says Sharma. This is something I knew and reading it in the book repeatedly in different styles just made me wonder what all can be achieved by just making people around you happy, not to mention the customers.

To make a précis of Sharma’s book of ideas, each of these chapters can be considered as groundwork to construct your monument of greatness. Reading each chapter either will implant a new idea in the brain or refine an old one.


Bee said...

long time since a blogpost from u... welcome back...

great review... will try n hv a look just becos u say so!

Parvinder said...

This book is a quick and easy read.
Robin Sharma is one of the truly bright young stars among the self-improvement authors.

I appreciate his writing style and humble approach to very touchy topics like this.

I think the best way to read this book is by reading a chapter a day and think about it. And then next day read the next chapter.

In this way, you can learn a lot.