A Review of Start by Jon Acuff

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters, for many weeks.  His previous book, Quitter, was excellent and helped me as I was planning to exit my day job for my dream job.  I dove right in last week and was laughing along and nodding in agreement through the first few chapters when a single sentence leaped off the page (well, computer screen) at me.


“The second you choose to be more awesome, fear will ask you a question:

‘Who are you to do that?’”


I may or may not have gotten choked up at that point.  There were no witnesses, so I’m admitting to nothing…you get the idea.


That one statement encapsulates what I’ve been fighting since I launched my business and is probably something you’ve dealt with in leading your non-profit.  Whether it’s launching a new organization or developing a new program, fear is an ugly beast that constantly tries to derail people who are pursuing their passion.  We wonder if we’re good enough, smart enough, young enough, old enough, etc.  Those doubts that keep cropping up, that’s fear butting in.  There’s no truth in it or factual evidence to support its claims – just a schoolyard bully trying to get us off track.

Fear certainly isn’t the only thing Jon addresses in Start.  You might think that a book called Start is only for people who haven’t, well, started yet.  Not so.  In this book, Jon takes us on a journey to the not-so-beaten path to awesome and teaches us how to handle the obstacles that pop up along the way.  With humor, wisdom, and great insight, he leads the reader from how to discover your passion (or rather, rediscover) and what that means from a practical, what-to-do-next perspective all the way through to guiding others along their own journey to awesome.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

 “…being awesome is about finding the core of who you are and what lights you up.  Once you’ve discovered that, you can have a million different jobs.”

“…always play to the size of your heart, not to the size of your audience.”

“A dream you don’t have to fight for isn’t a dream—it’s a nap.”

“Action always beats intention.”

“Joy is an incredible alarm clock.”

I appreciate how Jon provides both inspiration and perspiration throughout the book.  We all need to be inspired – especially when it comes to launching something new and taking risks.  Escaping average, as Jon puts it, isn’t for the faint of heart.  Average is easy; awesome takes courage and hard work.  That’s where the perspiration comes in. As he inspires, he also provides the practical, no-excuses steps necessary on the road to awesome.  It’s not all rainbows and unicorns (there are dragons involved) and he makes that clear.  It is, however, completely worth it.

If you feel stuck and need help getting started, buy the book and take action on Jon’s recommendations.  If you’re on the road already, this is an excellent book to pull out and re-read when you get discouraged or when fear is getting loud.  That’s what I plan to do and appreciate Jon for putting in the work to get as many people on the road to awesome as possible.  You have a passion and drive to help people, so don’t let fear win the battle.  Take the next step and  get started – I’ll see you along the way!

What are you doing to start?  What fears are trying to hold you back?