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This Beginner’s Pluck Book Review is my first ever — just because I love it so much! It is hilarious as it is serious – fervently pushing you to work through your insecurities to achieve a life of purpose. Receive a free Brave bracelet and audiobook when you preorder before October 1.
First of all, before we begin, you have to know this about me. I am Buzzfeed’s dream because I will click on every “I can relate to this” listicle that exists, no matter how pressing the deadline is, or how soon my cute alarm clocks will wake me up. So, picture me on an airplane somewhere over Pennsylvania with my mouth hanging open while reading Beginner’s Pluck, saying, “Get out of my mind!” Sometimes out loud.
The book begins with some snapshots of Liz’s childhood. She is already so relatable because her words and memories are painfully similar to my own. But here’s the thing. This commonality also suggests that I can achieve my own success like hers. I can start an incredibly successful and impactful company. I can publish a book (!!). And so can you. And literally everyone.
The inevitable result of being born awesome
Laughing aside, I must explore more to see if this is true because my mind is blown. Reading on, Liz suggests in the opening chapter of her book, Beginner’s Pluck, that we should “own our average.” She warns against using this as an excuse for apathy.
“Let me be very clear: Owning Your Average is not a call for complacency. Don’t you dare Own Your Average so that you can stay there or so that you can be content with an average life devoid of passion, purpose, connection, or deep meaning.”
Well, damnit. See what I mean about reading my mind? #calledout
own your average
“Your inherent gifts and talents and smarts most likely do not make you above average. And neither do your fears and deepest insecurities and shortcomings. I hate to break it to you, but those are also, well, quite average. You do know that almost every. last. one of us deals with imposter syndrome, don’t you? Am I good enough? If you think your fears and limiting mindsets make you special, you’re going to have to try harder than that.”
I personally can attest that this is true since I just finished reading Becoming by Michelle Obama and she frequently talks about her internal monologue that goes something like, “I am enough.” She constantly reminds herself that she’s worthy. Well, jeez, if Michelle Obama, Liz Bohannon, and I all have the same self-doubt situation going on, then perhaps we all really do have the same ability to achieve to more.
After my first child was born, I thought I was a perfect* parent. I stayed at home, puréed baby food, sleep-trained (it’s a verb) my kid to STTN at 6 weeks, curated her interests, cloth diapered and breastfed, read all the books, and did all the things. You can probably take a peek into my mind back then if you scroll back far enough in this blog. (Maybe I should not have told you that…)
When baby 2 and then 3 came along, sooooo much of what I thought mattered flew out the window. Homemade baby food and insane expectations vs. sanity, happiness and convenient store brand (i.e. budget friendly) pouches. Cloth diapering used to mean packing the wet bag and diapers and doing laundry on vacation, but that was casually replaced with some moderation by packing light and living a little more carefree while traveling with kids.
I found my parenting sweet spot in what my friend Jen Gale calls “ish”. Not in perfection, but in doing enough. Not in doing my best, but in doing enough. Reducing the steps it takes to get to the outcome, not diluting the end result.
find and replace
What Liz calls “Find and Replace” in her book resonated with me and this revelation I had during my midlife crisis of parenting. I never thought about it in terms of my business and work life before, but it’s clicking. Liz explains:
“What if becoming really, really good at finding problems before jumping to the supposed solution is actually the best place to start? Interesting problems will actually solve some of your more uninteresting problems, because you will slowly lose your ability to care about things that don’t really matter.”
Finding bigger problems in my parenting journey meant having less room for the little ones (which landed me straight into therapy). Big problems HAVE to be solved right away. They don’t sit nagging in your subconscious for years. They are in your face until they are solved.
Perhaps finding bigger problems in my business journey will propel me forward in a way that worrying about small stuff hasn’t. Is this what dreaming small but doing big would look like? Is this how action turns insecurity and inaction into solutions? Liz thinks so…
“If your problem is more important than your solution, you will be free to ask the questions you’re most afraid to ask. And when you must let a solution go? Do not despair. This process of having to let go and reimagining is not a stumbling block or an obstacle keeping you from the work. This is the very work that you were created to do.”
I first heard Liz talk about this concept at a luncheon in Grand Rapids in December 2017. I had a new baby then, but I skipped a pumping session, dropped my kids off at a friends after begging on Facebook for someone to watch them, and drove there to sit at my booth as a newly minted fellow to I don’t know, hopefully sell some stuff? Take a pic with Liz for my Instagram?
I snuck into the back of the room. Was I even allowed in there? No idea, but I was enamored with the idea of design thinking and finding interesting problems instead of shiny solutions.
I have always been one of those change-the-world-meant-for-something-big-find your passion kind of person, but I never could really quite find the launch point. I had a lot of ideas, but was often lacking in direction. Which is probably why I changed my major 7 times in college, and have a degree I am still not sure I’ve used in any official capacity.
stop trying to find your passion
I could relate to the message woven throughout Beginner’s Pluck on a visceral level. An a-ha moment was brewing as I sat in my plane seat. (Which, by the way, feels like a vacation when you have 3 kids). No wonder why I never found my passion. That I left my career to stay at home partly because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was waiting for some special sign, some significant feeling that confirmed all my decisions. Turns out I was looking at it backwards. Gotta make your own damn sign.
Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking.Antonio Machado, by way of Liz Bohannon and Beginner’s Pluck
curiosity over criticism
While I can’t say I have it all figured out (well, and neither do Liz or Michelle Obama), I can say that I have backed up a bit and shifted focus since reading this book. I am no longer passionately searching for purpose. I am listening instead. I’m observing what is happening around me. What problems seem interesting? Am I emotional about anything lately? What is keeping me up at night?
The solutions indeed seem less important. I feel aligned with the direction I seem to be heading. Maybe I’m not quite there yet, but it feels good. Writing this Beginner’s Pluck Book Review has forced me to take some space and reflect on what I’ve learned, and I’m grateful for that opportunity.
do i recommend this book?
I endorse books for a few reasons:
- It makes me think.
- I can relate to the author’s perspective.
- It makes me question how I am doing things.
- I’d read it more than once.
- It makes me laugh.
- I highlighted stuff.
I am happy to report that this book checks all of these boxes for me. While I am a little biased, (see all the pics?) Beginner’s Pluck is a fun, entertaining book that addresses into life’s biggest questions. It made me laugh, especially since I can actually hear Liz’s voice** in my mind, but it also made me think and question some big things. Personally, I like accompanying big things with lightheartedness.
*OBVIOUSLY I KNOW PERFECT PARENTING DOES NOT EXIST, ESPECIALLY NOT FOR STAY AT HOME MOMS, BUT I WANTED YOU TO KNOW HOW FAR MY DELUSIONS WENT.
**If you don’t have Liz’s voice in your head while reading this because maybe you don’t have the privilege of knowing her as well as I do, then I recommend getting the audiobook. It will make you LAUGH even harder.
P.S. If you order through any of these links before October 1, you’ll get the audio book FREE along with a Brave bracelet. You’ll just need to complete the gift form: lizbohannon.co/beginners-pluck.