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Stories about Taking Action

 The Talker versus the Doer

Origin: Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

Lesson: Neither ask permission nor discuss your grand idea, just put it into action.

Character: Robert Wood and James Penney

Synopsis: Rather than beg his superiors to put his idea into action, James Cash Penney simply worked hard, saved up, and built his empire. He had every disadvantage, but he won because he did not ask for permission. He acted.


The Blind Alleys of Success 

Origin: Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

Lesson: Iterate Toward Perfection

Character: Monster’s Inc, the movie 

Synopsis: Before it was a 562 million dollar blockbuster hit, Monster’s, Inc was a story about a 30 year old accountant frequented by monsters. The iterative process at Pixar is what separates them from the competition.


The Unnatural Pro Basketball Player

Origin: Mastery by Robert Greene 

Lesson: Move Toward Resistance

Character: Bill Bradley

Synopsis: Though Bill Bradley was born tall, he had no natural talent at Basketball. As a teenager he developed one of the most rigorous training programs in pro-basketball history. With years of dedicated practice, he became a master and a star for the New York Knicks


The Million Dollar Speech

Origin: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lesson: Always think in terms of taking action

Character: Dr. Gunsaulus 

Synopsis: A poor preacher wants to change education in America, but he doesn’t know how. He thinks and thinks and thinks and for two years more he thinks. Then, he realizes he’s been thinking too much and it is time for action. He does.


A Poet’s Work

Origin: Mastery by Robert Greene

Lesson: Give yourself the hardest assignment possible

Character: John Keats

Synopsis: Keats is one of the most prominent English Poets ever to live. He accomplished much without any formal training or guidance. But by biting off more than he could chew—and forcing himself to finish—he made himself pre-eminent in his field.


Say Yes

 Origin: The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Lesson: Just get Moving!

Character: Amelia Earhart

Synopsis: To overcome sexism in the 1920s Amelia Earhart focused on taking action toward her goal of becoming a pilot. This is the story of what she had to go through.


From Clunkers to the White House

 Origin: Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell

Lesson: Use disgust to create meaningful work

Character: Robert Chambers

Synopsis: When Robert Chambers saw his fellow co-workers at a used car lot dupe another “sucker,” he became outraged and quit. The company he would go on to build got him invited to the White House.


A Story in Stone 

Origin: 48 laws of Power by Robert Greene

Lesson: A master never argues, a master only shows.

Character: Michelangelo

Synopsis: 1502 Florence. A great marble stone is unearthed and brought to the “workhouse” department of the Florentine mayor. He selects an artist to sculpt it, and the artist creates a flaw at the base of the stone. No artist in the world can fix it. None, until Michelangelo lays eyes on it.


To the Summit and Beyond

Origin: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Lesson: Be willing to invest everything

Character: Tony Hsieh

Synopsis: In order to build, Tony Hsieh had to sell everything he owned. Were the company to have failed, he may have been completely broke. But, he risked it all anyway.


The Magic Number of Greatness


Origin: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell 

Lesson: It is the wrapping that makes a gift a gift

Character: Bill Gates and the Beatles

Synopsis: Bill Gates and the Beatles have much more in common than we may think. This is the story of their pre-fame career and the one moment that changed it all.


From Tramp to Champ

Origin: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lesson: If you have a burning desire and a good idea, be willing to stake your future on it

Character: Edwin C. Barnes

Synopsis: Edwin Barnes was a tramp with one ambitious: to work for the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison. Though he had no money, he trekked to New Jersey and made Edison give him a job. Starting as an errand boy, he would eventually make history with Edison.


The Decision Heard Round the World

Origin: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Lesson: A decision is only valuable when those who make it have courage

Character: John Adams and John Hancock

Synopsis: The American Revolution began with a firm decision in the minds of two men, and ended with the courage of a continent.


Andy Grove Battles Cancer

Origin: Great by Choice by Jim Collins

Lesson: Do not favor analysis over action; favor empiricism as the foundation for decisive action

Character: Andy Grove, CEO of Intel

Synopsis: When Andy Grove was diagnosed with cancer, he did what no other man would have. He prepared to battle not only cancer, but also the entire scientific community.