Get Out of Your Own Way | Dave Hollis

Summary of: Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth and Fulfillment
By: Dave Hollis


In ‘Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth and Fulfillment’, Dave Hollis shares his journey to personal and professional transformation. As a highly successful executive at Disney, Hollis seemed to have it all, but inside he was unfulfilled. Through candid self-examination, vulnerability, and embracing change, Hollis began to evolve both personally and professionally. This book summary dives into Hollis’s introspective journey, exploring themes such as the importance of not defining oneself by one’s occupation, embracing failures, and understanding our partners’ needs.

Value Beyond Your Job Title

Picture yourself at a social gathering, discussing your impressive job and watching people’s reactions. Even though they’re in awe, you remain unsatisfied with your work. Does this sound familiar? Learn from Dave Hollis, a successful yet unhappy Disney executive, who discovered that personal value transcends professional titles. By taking the leap and changing careers, he redefined his self-worth and ultimately found fulfillment beyond the confines of his prestigious job.

At a social event, when someone asks what you do for a living, the answer might trigger a variety of responses. Imagine mentioning your role as the head of sales for Disney’s movie studio โ€“ responsible for blockbusters like Frozen, Inside Out, and Marvel productions. Inevitably, people are left impressed. However, deep inside, you wish your job sparked the same enthusiasm within you.

This narrative portrays the life of author Dave Hollis, previously a sales executive at Disney. Although he had an incredible team, a never-ending supply of blockbuster films, and a handsome paycheck, Dave felt discontented. His job was beginning to feel monotonous, and he realized it was time for a change.

Hesitant at first, Dave was worried about letting go of the prestige associated with his position. He acknowledged that his job had become his identity, and losing it might diminish his perceived self-worth. Despite his fears, Dave longed for liberation from other people’s opinions and eventually made the leap.

Resigning from Disney, he embraced the challenge of becoming the CEO at his wife’s business, The Hollis Company. Dave’s transition from a media giant to a startup demanded that he relearn many aspects of business. This stimulating experience led him to a critical self-discovery: his value as a person wasn’t defined by his paycheck or company’s reputation but rather stemmed from being a caring, respectful individual who positively impacted the world.

This revelation allowed Dave to appreciate his worth without relying on his job title for validation. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, remember that personal value extends far beyond one’s professional achievements.

Embrace Weaknesses, Gain Competitive Edge

A business environment can be compared to the wild savanna, where revealing your weaknesses may lead to your downfall. In his career, Dave adopted a lion-like, combative approach in negotiations, hiding any insecurities to avoid exploitation. However, this made him seem unreasonable and distanced him from others. The turning point for Dave came after watching the movie 8 Mile. The film taught him that owning his weaknesses could render them harmless and give him a competitive edge. By being honest and vulnerable, Dave framed his weaknesses as strengths and started applying this approach both professionally and personally โ€“ transforming his interactions and relationships. Embracing your weaknesses can lead to more fruitful negotiations and genuine connections with others.

Embrace Failure, Foster Growth

When Dave’s son lost his campaign for class president, it served as a reminder that failure is a natural part of life and shouldn’t be feared. Failure can be a catalyst for growth, and by realizing this, Dave learned to embrace it and overcome his fixed mindset. Switching to a growth mindset allowed him to continuously improve, challenge his abilities, and discover new talents. As a society, we should work on normalizing failure and recognizing its potential to enhance our personal and professional lives.

Dave’s son Jackson, inspired by his father’s experiences, decided to run for class president in elementary school. Although Jackson’s campaign ended in defeat, this loss presented a valuable opportunity to teach him that failure wasn’t synonymous with being a failure. Beloved by his family and admired for his courage, Jackson came to understand that failure wasn’t fatal.

Such experiences emphasize the importance of normalizing failure for personal growth. Coinciding with Jackson’s defeat, Dave felt trapped in his career at Disney, realizing he was stuck in a fixed mindset, as described by psychologist Carol Dweck. In this mindset, Dave believed his skills were limited, leading him to avoid challenges he assumed he couldn’t meet.

However, Dweck’s book “Mindset” revealed the alternative growth mindset, where individuals believe in the possibility of continuous improvement, broadening their horizons through new experiences. By choosing to adopt a growth mindset, Dave was determined to escape his career rut, embrace the prospect of possible failures, and truly believe in his ability to grow as a person.

Society often regards failure as a taboo, but by daring to undertake tasks that we may not excel at, we challenge societal norms, learn to be comfortable with imperfection, and ultimately reveal previously undiscovered talents. By shifting our mindset and transforming our relationship with failure, we can unlock our true potential and become the best versions of ourselves.

Embracing Pain for Growth

In 2013, Dave and Rachel Hollis decided to expand their family by adopting a child. After heartbreakingly losing custody of twin girls they hoped to adopt, the couple found themselves questioning their ability to keep going. A chance conversation with a stranger, who shared his own adoption story, inspired them to push through the pain and continue pursuing their dream. Eventually, they adopted a little girl named Noah, whose name serves as a symbol of courage, faith, and love that helped them navigate a flood of pain.

Dave and Rachel Hollis, already blessed with three biological sons, knew something was missing from their family โ€“ a daughter. They set their hearts on adoption, and three years later, their dreams seemed to be coming true when they received word of newborn twin girls in need of a loving home. However, just five weeks after welcoming the twins, a devastating call informed them that the girls’ father wanted custody, shattering their family dreams.

The key message in this story is that when we allow ourselves to face pain head-on, rather than avoiding it, we set the stage for personal growth.

Faced with immense heartache, Dave and Rachel knew they had a choice. They could either let their pain hold them hostage or courageously continue their adoption journey. They recognized that to give up in fear of more pain would prevent them from finding the daughter they had always wanted.

During a lunch meeting with their adoption attorney, Rachel inquired about the twins’ father, hoping to at least give the babies some presents for closure. Dave reluctantly disclosed that the father had requested no further contact from the Hollises, causing Rachel to break down, feeling unable to continue. It was in this moment of raw vulnerability that a stranger dining nearby intervened, sharing his adoption story and how he wouldn’t be the person he was today if his adoptive parents had not endured their own setbacks.

Inspired by this unexpected encounter, Dave and Rachel found renewed strength and determination to push through their pain. Just two months later, they finally found their daughter, a precious girl they named Noah as an homage to the stranger who had rekindled their hope. This journey taught them that courage, faith, and love can help us survive our floods of pain, and on the other side, we emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.

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