So day one and the first book completed, The Power of No. At first, I was skeptical, I thought to myself am I going to take much away from this book? My critical thoughts were soon banished from my mind. Here is my breakdown of the book and the lessons I’m taking away from it. Hopefully, you’ll get something out of it as well.
The first thing that took me back about this audiobook was the surprise of two narrators. Not only were there two narrators, something that I had never come across listening to an audiobook before, but they were the authors. This for me is a great start, who better to read you the book than the people that wrote it themselves. This always seems to add some level of authenticity to what they are saying and you get a better sense of what they are trying to portray.
The book starts off by explaining the layout and what I can expect from reading it. They explain that there are 7 areas of saying ‘no’ in life that need to be focused upon. What I found particularly interesting was how James explains why saying ‘yes’ has led to him losing millions, not once, but twice! This really made me think about how someone able to make millions of dollars, owning multiple companies and investing in tons of different things can lose all of that and have nothing.
This part of the book I took a few different thought paths. James starts off this section by talking about something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about over the last several months, and something I’ve particularly focused on in my life. The importance of selecting the right people to be around. So many people are careless about who they hang around with and spend most of their time with. Neglecting the fact that you are the product of your 5 closest things, including friends.
Everything immediately around you has a huge effect on your mood, thoughts, ideas, habits and everything in between. So hanging around with people that don’t inspire you, or people that you don’t really engage with is so damaging. If you hang around with people that are negative, you’re going to be negative. If you hang around with creative, inspiring and thought-provoking people, you’re going to be creative, inspired and have lots of provoking thoughts. Fact.
James talks about an exercise he uses, whereby he ranks the people he knows on a scale of 1-10. Ten being that you really enjoy this person’s company, they inspire you to be better and support your visions. One being someone who you completely disagree with, negative and don’t support anything you say or do. Anyone who’s under a 7/8 should lose your focus, and you should distance yourself from these people. Having them around is directly affecting you. If you start to become someone who’s inspirational, good company and support people’s visions then you’ll soon attract a whole group of people who are looking for the same.
Another avenue of thought that I took from this section is when Claudia starts reading. She talks about the rules and expectations we inherit from the social norm. Claudia goes into detail about how these preset rules are affecting our interactions, such as dating someone new. We go on dates with these rules, expecting things to happen like ticking them off from a list. Her argument is that we are never present in the moment, and by freeing ourselves from these rules we are opening up to who that person really is.
The Idea Muscle
This section of the book talks about generating ideas as a muscle that needs to be worked out. The basic principle is that if you train your brain to come up with ideas, good or bad, then you will become more natural at it. James explains that if you stopped producing ideas, the metaphoric idea muscle would deteriorate like a real muscle would.
How do you exercise this so-called idea muscle? Well, James suggests that you start by writing 10 ideas down every day. He stresses that these don’t have to be good ideas, as long as you are coming up with something, your brain is getting stronger. He also remarked that if you struggle to put one idea down you need to write 20 down.
I personally believe in this principle and have found a huge difference in my idea creative capacity from last year to this year. I’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming ideas for my startup, and I can certainly say it’s had a huge effect. I remember quite distinctively that last year I had entered an all time dip in creativity, idealess in a sense. Now, though, I’m coming up with 15 new ideas every day.
This section is about controlling the thoughts that you have and not the other way around. Saying no to certain thoughts in a sense. James talks about how he constantly is awakened at 3 am and his mind is rushing with pointless thoughts. He stressed the fact that no thoughts at 3 am ever came true. In fact, he said it three times! No thoughts at 3 am ever came true.
I assume the point he is trying to make here is that we need to think constructively and not deconstructively. What I mean by this is we need to say no to the thoughts of who’s talking about you, what they are saying, am I going to be rich in the future. Start thinking in the now, and take control of the thoughts that matter. Being engaged in the moment allows you to say no to all the crap that doesn’t matter.
Benefits of Silence
This section made the most sense to me and it hasn’t really been something I had thought a lot about in the past. The benefits of silence are crazy, and the way James explains it is remarkable.
He starts by talking about minimalism. Not the consumer minimalists, where you stop yourself from buying things you want. Whilst that still helps declutter your thoughts as there are less external stimulants to distract you, he talks about external noises. By cutting out the noise in your life, it allows your brain to focus inwards and think freely. This reminded me of when Joe Rogan talks about sensory deprivation tanks, something I will do a separate post about in the future.
Being silent directly affects trust. If you’re known for not talking all the time, and not bitching or telling other people useless things, then people will trust you with their secrets. James goes on to tell a story about a girl overhearing her friend talk to someone about a secret of her friend. Trust is now lost forever. Doesn’t matter what you do, you aren’t getting it back.
The value of words is another area he touches on. It’s a basic equation if you break it down to its roots. If you speak less, people will value your words more when you speak. Not only does talking less greatly conserve limited brain energy, which can be used for being creative. It allows you to step back and observe.
If you wake up the morning after attending a party and think to yourself, oh shit why did I say that last night? Think about the benefits of silence in this situation. Had you spoken fewer words, you’d be less stressed now. You can’t regret what you didn’t say.
This book offers a lot of life lessons. Some more meaningful that others, but what is valuable to me might be different to what is valuable to you. As James and Claudia point out in the book, you need to practice these all the time to get good at them. It’s not something which is going to happen overnight. Overall it’s a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who is remotely co-dependant.
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Have you read this book? Your thoughts are interesting. If you’ve read this book too then comment below to start a discussion and I will reply to everything!