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Screw It, Let’s Do It
by Richard Branson
Richard Branson is clearly someone who embodies the Choose The Life You Want philosophy. This book clearly illustrates exactly how he does that.
This gem of a book is a very quick read. It is only 106 pages long and Branson doesn’t waste a single word. His sentences are crisp, short and written in a very easy to read conversational style. The book is subtitled “Lessons in Life” and is divided into nine sections, one for each lesson. They are:
- Just Do It!
- Have Fun!
- Be Bold
- Challenge Yourself
- Stand On Your Own Feet
- Live the Moment
- Value Family and Friends
- Have Respect
- Do Some Good
What I like most about this book is that Branson finds a perfect balance between story telling a delivering wisdom. It is not a memoir (for that, you should read Branson’s book “Losing My Virginity”) and it is not merely a book on business or personal philosophies. Branson’s pearls of wisdom are dispensed without feeling preachy. He is simply telling the story of what has worked for him and making suggestions about how you and I can use these same principles in our lives.
I found it amazing that the tone of the book remains humble throughout. At no point does he get caught up in patting himself on the back about his successes and achievements. Somehow, he manages to relate the story of leveraging his personal friendship with King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan to help broker the safe release of British hostages being held in Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1990, all without a hint of bragging or bravado.
He discusses starting his first business at the age of fifteen (from which grew the Virgin Empire), racing powerboats across the Atlantic Ocean, being the first to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon. The common theme in all of his endeavors can be summed up in this quote:
“If something is what you really want to do, just do it. Whatever your goal is, you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly.”
It’s worth reading this book just to hear Branson’s story of how he came to purchase his famed island getaway, Necker Island. His hadn’t planned on buying an island, he was just operating from one of his chief principles: “Have Fun”. If you’ve read “The Secret” or any other book on the Law of Attraction, you will immediately recognize that Richard Branson is living proof that these principles work whether you are aware of them or not. At no point does Branson mention spirituality, the Universe or the Law of Attraction, yet his stories are wonderful illustrations of what happens when someone operates for a place of possibility and joy.
At the age of 27, Branson fell in love with Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. The asking price was £3,000,000. Branson boldly offered £150,000. Three months later, he got a call to say that he could have the island for £180,000. The only problem was that he didn’t have that much money. His reaction?
“This would cost a lot. But I was positive I could find the money somewhere to do it and I agreed to the terms. Now all I had to do was find the money to buy the island of my dreams. It seemed out of reach, but I vowed to reach my goal.”
Joseph Campbell wrote “follow your bliss”. Branson writes: “…have fun and the money will come and in turn, so will your goals.” Most of us have heard advice like this so often that it has become cliché, however, after you’ve read Branson’s account of his trip to Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands, you will become a believer!
Another of Richard Branson’s personal principles that really resonates with me is summed up in these sentences: “As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live.“
Branson tells the story of pitching the idea of starting an airline to his partners at Virgin Music. Branson was proposing to use a third of a year’s profits from Virgin Music to start Virgin Atlantic. He told them that the risk was worth it because it would be “fun”.
“They weren’t happy with the word ‘fun’. To them, business was serious, It is. But, to me, having fun matters more.”
While the book doesn’t break any new ground in terms of wisdom, I highly recommend it specifically because it is filled with time-honoured pearls of wisdom, each of which Branson manages to breathe life into through his fascinating anecdotes about his personal and business life.
Even though you and I probably have very little in common with Richard Branson, this book will have you believing that you can achieve anything if you have the right attitude!
As I read this book, many of Branson’s philosophies reminded me of a book by Mark Burnett, one of the pioneers of reality television and creator of shows such as “Survivor” and “The Apprentice”. Burnett’s book is called “Jump In! Even If You Don’t Know How To Swim” and it chronicles Burnett’s arrival in America in 1982 as a young British ex-commando with $600 and no return plane ticket. Burnett’s secret to success can be summed up in the following quote:
“It’s about taking action. Nothing will ever be perfect, and nothing can be totally planned. The best you can hope for is to be about half certain of your plan and know that you and the team you’ve assembled are willing to work hard enough to overcome the inevitable problems as they arrive…. If you’re passionate, committed, and willing to believe in yourself, anything is possible. It all starts when you take that half certainty, mix it with your intuition and Jump In. Over analyzing… will be the beginning and the end!
Our current global economic climate has left many people feeling gun shy about having an optimistic outlook on life. After all, many “sure things” have evaporated recently and uncertainty seems to rule the day. At this point, each of us has two options available:
1. Wait until you are positive about the outcome before taking any action. This includes changing careers, investing money, falling in love, starting a family and so on.
2. Realize that nothing in life is ever certain and decide that a positive outlook is more important to your success than actually being positive about the outcome.
I urge you to take the second option. Decide what outcome you want for your life, set your intentions and goals clearly in your mind, develop a decent, yet flexible, strategy then say: Screw it, let’s do it! and jump in!