I was recently gifted a copy of You Haven't Hit Your Peak Yet!: Uncommon Wisdom for Unleashing Your Full Potential, written by author Harvey Mackay. I'd heard of Mackay, but admittedly, had never read any of his writing, despite the fact that his books have sold over 10 millions copies.

As someone who writes books for a living, I was intrigued by the outline and style of the book. It is essentially written as 80-plus one-page blog posts housed within 27 sections. Each one to two page "lesson" ends with a one-sentence "moral" that distills that lesson. 

From a blogging perspective, this outline made complete sense. Writing is much easier to do when you have an outline, and it's much easier to consume when it feels uncumbersome. Also, people really like action-oriented and useful writing these days. 

Harvey Mackay is considered by many to be a learner, as well as a teacher. He's 87 years old and believes he's yet to hit his "peak." He's still go-go-going every single day. And while reading this book, I felt like I was getting the wisdom of a very successful 87-year-old, but in a structure that was incredibly fresh, even cutting-edge when it comes to virality.

Uncommon Wisdom

Here are a few nuggets from the book that I think anyone can use:

  • "When adversity is on the menu, make sure you order it well done." Adversity, although avoided, is where your best learning occurs.
  • "Don't let hard times turn into end times. Let them lead to your best times." Most people aren't as successful as they could be because becoming successful requires a great deal of learning. Learning involves painful lessons, which most people avoid. As Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, says, "All progress starts by telling the truth." Most people reach their "peak" far too early because they stop wanting to deal with the pain of learning and growth. They let a "failure" become permanent rather than a learning lesson.
  • "Smiles never go up in price nor down in value." Being a positive person is a choice, and it makes life for yourself and everyone you encounter much more pleasant. Being positive can have a huge impact on your relationships and success. In the words of Joe Polish, founder of Genius Network, "Be someone that others always want to answer the phone for."
  • "Only you can draw the map of the road to your happiness." You've got to define success for yourself. No one else can do that for you. This is perhaps one of life's greatest lessons. As Viktor Frankl put it, the last of human freedoms is to "choose one's own way." The No. 1 regret of the dying is not having had the courage to pursue the life they truly wanted. This lesson is either never learned or learned far too late, accompanied by much regret. As Meredith Willson has said, "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays."
  • "The only thing that matters is if you say you can't do it." If you want to do amazing things, you've got to believe in yourself, even if nobody else does. Joe Burrow, the LSU quarterback, was a second- or third-string benchwarmer at Ohio State just two years ago. Now he's a Heisman Trophy Winner, National Champion, and projected No. 1 draft pick. In an interview with ESPN, Joe was asked, "If I went back to 2017 and told you all that would happen, what would you say to me?" Joe's response was killer: "I'd believe you," he said. Now, let's be serious here for a minute. If, in 2017, Joe Burrow, the guy on the bench said, "In two years from now, I'm gonna be a Heisman winner, a National Champion, and hold many records," we'd all say he's delusional. And that's totally fine. He doesn't care what our opinions are. Nor should you care what other people think. You've got to believe in yourself and your dreams, even if they seem delusional or ridiculous to others. 
  • "Don't horse around when you're dealing with mistakes. Get back in the saddle and grab the reins." In psychology, there is a term for this called a "refractory period," and it is the amount of time it takes to emotionally recover and move on from an experience. Small frustrations, such as getting cut off on the road or getting in an argument with your spouse, may take a few minutes or hours to recover from. Some events, though, may take months, years, or even decades to let go of. Indeed, some events are never outgrown. To succeed big in anything, you've got to let stuff go fast. As the late Kobe Bryant said, "I always wanted to be better, wanted more. I can't really explain it, other than that I loved the game but had a very short memory. That fueled me until the day I hung up my sneakers." Becoming psychologically flexible enables you to shorten the length of refractory periods--even when really painful or difficult experiences happen. You become psychologically flexible by being in touch with your emotions but not completely absorbed by them. You hold your thoughts and emotions loosely as you actively pursue meaningful goals. In professional basketball, a player doesn't have time to stay upset and discouraged if they miss a shot. They may be disappointed or embarrassed when they miss, but ultimately, they need to stay attentive to the moment and committed to the goal of helping their team win, regardless of how they are feeling. If they linger in the emotion of the missed shot, they won't be able to operate fully on the court, which creates more problems for themselves and their team. If they emotionally attach to what happened, they may avoid taking the shot next time out of fear or negative expectation. They're stuck in the past rather than acting as their future self. The less you hold on to mistakes or painful experiences, the better you're able to adapt to what the situation requires and perform in order to achieve your goals. The more psychologically flexible you are, the faster you can let things go. 


"If you haven't read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent because your personal experiences aren't broad enough to sustain you."--General James Mattis, the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense

How much uncommon wisdom do you have?

How much time do you spend learning from the greats?

How fast are you learning?

How much are you avoiding the mistakes keeping you stuck?