Sarah Robb O’Hagan has experienced some amazing successes in the marketing business, but she’s also made some embarrassing mistakes along the way. Her book, Extreme You, is a guide to embracing and leveraging your individual strengths (and weaknesses) in order to be extraordinary, in pretty much any endeavor. I loved receiving a copy of this book, in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts with all of you.
It’s funny, I’ve been trying to remember to keep this book flipped over so Goofball wouldn’t read the part of the tagline that says, “Kick Ass.” But that’s really a significant portion of what the book is about: the intensity that it takes to make big things happen in your life.
O’Hagan incorporates entertaining stories of her journey into a practical guide for embracing your Extreme self. I really identified with her proclivity to think outside of the box and reject the standard expectations of others. Also, O’Hagan stresses the importance of being humble and working as a supportive team with others who have different strengths. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Extreme You.
Every challenging situation, personal or professional, that comes with the possibility of serious success or failure will also come with pressure from others and from yourself. Pressure to conform to the accepted norms. Edit yourself down. Fit in. Do what is usual and comfortable and in so doing make yourself seem more average, more expected, and less threatening to the status quo – less of yourself.
I love stories of Extremers reimagining themselves. But in the course of a lifetime, we don’t just need massive new realizations; we also need to adjust to the shifting demands and opportunities we face as one life era gives way to the next. We need to balance love and career, private time and time with loved ones, short-term goals and longer-term ones.
In her chapter focused entirely on staying humble, O’Hagan writes: Every success creates the potential for new opportunities – and every new opportunity puts you into a situation to confront what you don’t know. The more you live Extreme and seek to step from success to success, the more prepared you need to be to park your assumptions at the door, tolerate approaches that may seem, at first, to have no point, and respect the fact that others can help make you better if you will let them. We may imagine, as children, that when we grow up we’ll know it all, but in fact the Extreme Grown-ups are the ones who never stop not knowing – and admitting it.
I spent the better part of two years trying to dissect and understand my dissatisfaction with a life that was perfect according to societal standards. During that time, I definitely considered whether the path of my career was to blame. Was there some other occupation or position calling to me that would provide a sense of satisfaction? As if changing my job title would fix everything.
I’ve since realized that the answer is not in switching jobs, but in living a more-balanced life. The ideal solution is to escape from the demands of full-time work long before the traditional age of retirement. However, in becoming immersed in the FIRE community, I’ve made another discovery. The highly driven and diligent individuals who achieve financial independence/early retirement don’t end up lazy and unproductive, even though they have earned that option. Instead, they all seem to devote their energy into new passion projects and adventures.
We all have something that ignites our drive to achieve awesome results. The ideal “Extreme You” represents the perfect alignment between that drive, your personal strengths, and meaningful goals.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is full of interesting and inspiring stories about a fairly wide variety of people, from O’Hagan’s work in brand reinvention, to the creators of Zumba and a chef at the White House. The insight provided by Extreme You would be both enlightening and helpful to those pursuing long-term careers and others who might be looking for new ways to apply their skills. O’Hagan teaches you how to unapologetically, but intelligently, be your best self.
In other news, I remain very pregnant and will continue to update everyone as my due date approaches. I did manage to already surpass my goal of reading an actual, physical book while on leave . . . now up to two!