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  • Toby Sinclair

Book Summary: How To Begin By Michael Bungay Stanier

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

How to Begin Michael Bungay Stanier Book Summary

⭐ Rating: 10/10 - Recommended For: Leaders

✏️ How To Begin Book Summary Written by Steven Menczel

3 Big Ideas from How to Begin by Michael Bungay Stanier 💡

How to Begin helps you achieve worthy goals:

  1. Set worthy goals in any area of your life. Measure worthiness by using the metrics of thrilling, important and daunting, and refine the goal until it is clear, simple and compelling.

  2. Assess the goal carefully before you commit. Look at your previous false starts, what you are currently doing and not doing that is taking you away from your goal, and weigh up factors such as loss of comfort and how the journey would mould and cement your best qualities.

  3. Cross the Threshold: Set yourself up for success when you begin by taking small steps, making sure you are operating at your peak, and choosing your travelling companions deliberately and carefully.

2 Best Quotes from 'How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters'💬

"Here’s what unites everyone who picks up this book: You sense the stirrings of your own ambition. You know that you have more to contribute. You want to shake things up and make a difference. You want to learn and grow. You want to use your power for good. And you’re ready to begin."
"The central mantra of this book is 'you unlock your greatness by working on the hard things'. To strive to be your Best Self is a lifetime's work"

Top Takeaway

Here are Steven's Top Takeaways in this Book Summary of How To Begin by Michael Bungay:

As you can infer from the title, Michael's book focuses on the 'how' of defining important goals, evaluating them and starting them, and he does this in a conversational style and in great detail. In essence, it reads like an instructional manual with clear stages and steps, and most importantly, Michael workshops two of his own goals 'in real time' throughout the book, explaining not only his actions but also his thought processes.

In 'How to Begin', Michael sets up the idea of a 'worthy goal' and makes the concept relatable and achievable. He leads you through numerous activities to test the goal, and to ensure that it meets the criteria of being exciting, a bit scary, and of value.

The second section of the book, where he introduces some novel methods for weighing up whether to actively pursue the goal, was the most eye-opening for me. As an example, he asks you to assess whether the goal will move you to 'You+' (a more finely-tuned version of you) or to 'You 2.0', where you break your current limits and step onto a new S-curve of learning and growth and truly connect to your goal. Exercises like these will give many the confidence to proceed and take the practical actions outlined in the final section to kick-start the new goal.

I am constantly reminded that there is no shortage of people who are ready to tell you what to do, but precious few who can clearly, effectively and enjoyably guide you through the process of execution. Michael does this with his trademark humour, passion, and desire to make the world a better place. Highly recommended.

📹 Prefer Video?

This interview between Michael Bungay Stanier and Marshall Goldsmith expands on the ideas from this How To Begin Book Summary.


How To Begin Book Summary Written by: Steven Menczel

Steven Menczel Bio

I’m a behaviour designer and my mission is to shorten the process of moving from theory to results by creating powerful and positive habits and routines - on the way I make people happier, healthier and more successful.

📚 I love to read because it nourishes and provokes me, and I view my reading as an ongoing dialogue that adds to the conversation of who we are, and why we do what we do.

📗A book I’ve recently been recommending is ‘Rationality’ by Steven Pinker


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