I’m taking this Thursday and Friday off work this week to celebrate my four year anniversary with my girlfriend so this week’s second post is out early.
Recently on recommendation from another Daygamer I read The Big Five for Life by John Strelecky. He spoke highly of it and so today I’d like to go over the lessons within. It’s a book that’s part business leadership and part personal development but I will be mostly looking at the personal development side of things.
The main point of Big Five is that at the end of your life you’re going to look back at what you’ve achieved and wonder: “do I have any regrets? Why did I spend so much time working that awful job? Did I really do what I wanted to do with my life?”
Big Five puts forward this idea by encouraging you to imagine a museum of your life which you’ll visit as you die and that it’s perfectly allocated by what you did during your time on earth. So if you spent 10% of your life playing sports then 10% of the museum would be dedicated to that. If you spent 50% of your life at a job you hated there’d be a whole wing dedicated to that. You get the point.
So the stage is set: how does one go about improving his or her museum?
Strelecky says that each person should have an overall “Personal Purpose for Existing” or PFE. Sounds a bit wishy washy but I’ll return to that at the end.
Each person’s PFE is their dream. The one thing that they would like everything in their life to contribute towards.
Dipping into the business side of the book for a moment: Strelecky says that if everyone in a business has their PFE aligned then productivity and profits will be through the roof. People are excited to come to work on a Monday morning and are fully aware that their job is helping them to achieve what they want in life.
Underneath the PFE, and these will form the events that make up the museum, you have your “Big Five for Life.” This is an idea inspired by the big five African safari animals: lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalos and rhinos. The point being that you could judge the success of a safari by how many you spotted. Similarly you could judge the success of your life by how many of your big five you achieved.
To quote a Denzel Washington speech I watched recently: “you’ve got to have dreams, but you’ve got to have goals too.” Well to me, the PFE is the dream and the Big Five are the goals. The PFE is the pie in the sky thing you most desire and the Big Five is how you’re actually going to get there.
As you read the book you can’t help but come up with your own PFE and Big Five. These are mine:
PFE: to have the freedom to enjoy my life as much as possible.
Big Five (in no particular order):
- Reach 100 Daygame lays
- Have a strong and loving family with children and pets
- To be lean and healthy (15% bodyfat or below) and to always push myself to train hard
- To create, own and run a business or portfolio which supports my lifestyle
- Learn to speak Finnish fluently
This proved to be a great exercise for me. We all have a general idea of what we’d like to happen in life but we can move towards our goals much more effectively by setting them down. Going through this process really made me think about what I wanted and narrow down what I’d like to achieve.
You might have read all of the above and thought “that’s all well and good but it’s not realistic.” I see what you’re saying and I thought that too as I was reading the book. In some ways it reminded me of the corporate values I see (and see through) at work.
That was until I realised that these ideas only have as much power as you give them. If you think having a PFE and a Big Five are lame concepts then they aren’t going to mean much for you. In fact, Strelecky openly says that the lessons of his book won’t reach many people but for those for which they do they will be a powerful message. He goes on to say that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a philosophy of life which everyone can follow and I agree with him: what you choose as an individual is what counts.
Lastly I’d just like to touch on a criticism I have of the book and that’s that it is often cheesy. The lessons are told through a contrived storyline where a character named “Thomas Derale” – a fictional character who’s supposed to be the greatest leader who ever lived – is dying and his friend Joe is rushing back to see him before he goes. As Joe heads back home and once he’s there the lessons of the book are spelt out using contrived conversations.
It’s a stylistic choice and fair enough to Strelecky: people take in messages such as these much better through stories over textbooks. If Big Five was a textbook it might have only been five small pages in length.
And that’s my review/summary. I picked this book up for less than £10 on Amazon and read it quite quickly. For most people it won’t mean much to them and for others it will be very helpful. Seems worth the risk.