I see this book as another step in the path I began with Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now. Each book is full of enthusiasm for passion, innovation, and discovery. Each champions humility, curiosity, and new beginnings. The love of mystery that keeps us exploring, a healthy sense of wonder, the specialness of each day. Reaching your authentic best by living in the present, taking responsibility for your own fate, pursuing an unrestricted life. True success is freedom, which means finding your own path, setting your own standards, choosing your own purpose. Enjoying what you do and sharing that conviction, no matter what it happens to be.
However, the Trump book's focus is also on the hard work, dedication, and steady pursuit of progress necessary to bring about one's dreams, which is an important distinction. To “think big” means to read widely, pay attention to new developments, and learn to think on your feet. And so he appeals more to our shared capacity for reason, preparation, and knowledge of our craft, showing how these ingredients for a successful life are essentially the same for artists and entrepreneurs alike. Success can be a lot of different things, achievement is ultimately a very personal concept, and in the end it's our independence and integrity that makes it meaningful.
I'm often inspired by New Spirituality or self-help books but not quite sure how to implement those insights each day in an ongoing way. And the tendency to be self-obsessed is not necessarily in my best interests. I like the wisdom of this book's basic attitude: “Take your work seriously, take yourself less seriously.” Here is a book that invokes and I believe successfully applies Emerson, Einstein, Confucius, Thoreau, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and others, but in the name of being more personable on the job, realistic about the ways of business, and mindful of the ways that genius is achieved and maintained through constant effort, openness to new ideas, and always setting new challenges so as to keep growing.
At the same time I'm wary of the narrow, workaholic mentality. Of the ever-occupied mind. Of the personal sacrifices that are ultimately required in the name of professionalism and positive thinking. And of bad taste. Also I think there's room for growth not covered here. Those areas where concerted effort can actually preclude the satisfaction of one's aims. For example I suspect that vulnerability, intimacy, and emotional depth are the kinds of things that aren't built up like a building or a bank account, and which take a special form of surrender to achieve and maintain.
But then I realize the writing here also has confidence that its readers are interested in bettering themselves – why else would they be reading his book? And since my interest is the personal / spiritual / existential journey, what I receive from Think Like a Champion is validation of those passions, encouragement to keep doing that which drives me, and with even more of my energies and resources this time. (Although the book's advice to diversify one's economic portfolio will continue to elude me.)
So I'm glad for this book. I have a lot to learn about working with a team while simultaneously developing a healthy mistrust of others. And often it's my own fears that keep me from taking risks, accepting responsibility, or being successful. Trump's books offer page after page of practical, commonsense advice which has been very helpful for me in terms of overcoming obstacles at work and in life. I'm reassured by his long experience with mistakes and failures as a natural and necessary aspect of growth, by his faith in the power of stubborn persistence, and the wisdom of minding every last detail of a project.
Trump's books are quick to point out that something worth doing is worth doing right. Also the style is a great lesson in itself – straight and simple; direct and blunt; thoughts, words, and actions aligned; focused on finding areas of agreement in the name of moving forward.