How to Begin | Michael Bungay Stanier

Summary of: How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters
By: Michael Bungay Stanier


Welcome to the captivating journey of discovering the essence of ‘How to Begin: Start Doing Something That Matters’ by Michael Bungay Stanier. In this summary, we’ll walk you through the process of identifying and pursuing Worthy Goals – the ones that are daunting, important, and thrilling. Through the use of engaging storytelling and thought-provoking exercises, you’ll be prompted to uncover your own Worthy Goal, put it to the test, and refine it to create a goal that truly resonates with your life’s purpose.

The Three Traits of Worthy Goals

Worthy Goals possess three distinct qualities: they should be daunting, important, and thrilling. The author takes the reader on a journey following Paul’s life to help understand what it means to have a Worthy Goal. Despite choosing a safe career, Paul becomes a successful doctor, serving others in a significant way. However, he feels that something is missing, and he can’t put his finger on it. The author believes that all three traits are necessary for a goal to be truly Worthy. They compare it to a three-legged stool, and having all three legs the same length is essential to hold the weight of your ambition and talent.

From Idea to Action

The author emphasizes the importance of turning ideas into tangible projects and provides a practical exercise to help readers achieve their worthy goals. Starting with a sketch, readers are encouraged to make quick word associations and create a mission statement that excites them. The author emphasizes the need for worthy goals that push readers out of their comfort zone without being impossible and connect them to the world. While acknowledging that nailing a worthy goal at the first attempt is difficult, readers are advised to make a crappy, messy first draft, and make progress over time. The exercise helps readers break down their goal into actionable steps.

Stress-Testing Your Worthy Goal

Congratulations on crafting your first draft! Now comes the tricky part- stress-testing your Worthy Goal. Think of it as conducting a robust check to see if your goal is sound enough to bear the weight of your ambition. Start by running your idea past your spouse-ish person, someone who knows you well, cares, and has a good sense of who you are. Don’t be scared; this process will help you be accountable while giving you a reality check. There are a few possible responses you can anticipate, but don’t get carried away by them. Positive feedback isn’t a green light, and negative feedback isn’t a red light. Instead, focus on using these responses to refine your goal. The second test is fitting your project into the Goldilocks Zone. Avoid making your goal too small or too big. Look for the ideal balance- a goal that’s meaningful but realistic, inspiring but doable. If your Worthy Goal isn’t sturdy yet, return to the drawing board and make the necessary tweaks.

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