10 Big Ideas from The Carpenter



Are there proven practices and timeless truths that help you lead a better life, enjoy more fulfilling work, and make more moments that matter?

There are.  And Jon Gordon reveals them in his book The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All.

Gordon is a bestselling author, and he writes stories that inspire us, drawing from his experience of helping Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals, sports teams, and nonprofits.

In The Carpenter, Gordon shares an entertaining and enlightening story of Michael and a carpenter who changes Michael’s life.  Michael’s business is failing, and so is his health.  He’s in danger of losing everything he has and everything he’s worked for.

What Michael learns from the carpenter is goes well beyond woodwork.  It’s deep wisdom and some of the greatest strategies to build a better life, a better career, and make each moment his masterpiece.

With that in mind, here are 10 big ideas from The Carpenter

1. Life and Success are About What You Choose to Believe

It’s not what you believe when things are going well.  It’s what you truly believe when things are really going wrong.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“You can! You can choose to see it!  Life and success are about what you choose to believe.  It’s easy to believe things will be great when everything is going well, but the true test of your faith is what you believe when you are facing insurmountable challenges.  

The late and great Nelson Mandela said it best: ‘I am fundamentally an optimist.  Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.  Part of being optimistic  is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.  There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.  That way lays defeat and death.'”

2. Negative Thoughts are Nails

Don’t nail yourself down with negative thoughts.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“Negative thoughts are the nails that build a prison of failure.  Positive thoughts will build you a masterpiece.”

3. Talk to Yourself

Dr. James Gills completed six double Ironman triathlons.  He’s the only person on the planet to do so.  In a double Ironman triathlon, you swim for 2.4 miles, ride your bike for 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, and then 24 hours later, do it again.

How did Gills do it?

He learned to talk to himself.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

I have learned to talk to myself instead of listening to myself.  If I listen to myself, I hear all the negative thoughts, all the complaints, all the fears, all the doubts, and all the reasons why I shouldn’t be able to finish the race.  But if I talk to myself, I can feed myself with the words and encouragement I need to finish the race.”

4. We Are All Unfinished Works of Art

The challenges that we face test us and help reveal our true potential.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“Every struggle, every challenge, every failure is mean to help show us who we are in this moment and how far we have to go to become all we are meant to be.  We see how imperfect we are and how much we fall short.  We realize we are unfinished works of art, and our creator who made us with love is not done with us yet.”

5. Serving Leads to True Success

When you serve others, you gain and grow in the process.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“When you love, you serve, and when you serve, you sacrifice.  Service requires a sacrifice of something.  Whether it’s time, energy, money, love, effort, or focus, serving others always costs you something, but with service and sacrifice, you gain so much more.

We admire those who serve and sacrifice for us and others admire us for our service and sacrifice.  There is nothing more powerful than sacrificial love.  Nothing says I love you more than letting someone know I am willing to serve and sacrifice for them.  When you love and serve other you will become great in their eyes.  They will know you love them and they will love you back.  They will respect and honor you.  They will trust you.  They will tell others about you.  Serving leads to true success.”

6. Work is Meant to Be a Spiritual Experience, Not a Daily Chore

What if your work was a reflection of you and all that you’re capable of?

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“Then he paused and rubbed his hand along the smooth surface of the desk.  ‘You know we can all create with this power, but too many people have forgotten who they truly are.  Two thousand years ago there was no separation between someone’s work life and someone’s spiritual life.  Now we separate them and wonder why people are so miserable.  Work is meant to be a spiritual experience, not a daily chore and a grind.  All work is sacred.  Everything is spiritual.  When you bring your spirit to work you will become a powerful builder of success.’”

7. Caring is How You Stand Out

It’s not just people who make the world go round.  It’s people who care.  And caring is the difference that makes the difference.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“When you care, you will inspire others to care.  It’s also important to make sure you surround yourself with people who care.  Find ways to extend yourself to others and serve them.  Write a note.  Make a call.  Go out of your way to serve someone.  Go beyond the expected.  People know you care when you go out of your way to show them they matter.  A smile, an encouraging word, an extra five minutes of time, solving a customer’s problem, listening to an employee, sacrificing for a friend, and helping a team member through a challenging time can make all the difference. Never underestimate the importance of making time to make someone feel special.”

8. Our Purpose is Greater than Our Challenges

Don’t just have a mission statement.  “Be” the mission.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

You need to dig down and love deeper, server greater, and care more.  The love of what you are building has to be greater than the challenges you face.  Serve greater!  Become a mighty servant who serves in small ways, big ways, and sideways.  Serve everyone as if they are the only person on the planet.  And care more.  Care so much that you care enough for everyone.”

The trick is to find the purpose that inspires you to be the mission.

I love, serve, and care because __________  (you fill in the blank.)

9. Are You a Pretender or a Contender?

Failure tests us and it shakes out the pretenders from the contenders.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“I have worked in the homes of many successful people and have seen firsthand that everyone fails in life, but failure can be a gift if you don’t give up and are willing to learn, improve, and grow because of it.  You see, failure often serves as a defining moment, a crossroads on the journey of your life.  It gives you a test designed to measure your courage, perseverance, commitment, and a dedication.  Are you a pretender who gives up after a little adversity or a contender who keeps getting up after getting knocked down?”

10. If You Lose it All, Start Over

If you lose it all it’s not the end.  It’s a new beginning.

Via The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All:

“On his way back from the bank, he decided that if they lost it all they would start over.  He agreed with the carpenter and believed that the spiritual creates the physical, and ideas and principles are what build lasting success.  He felt equipped with the right tools, principles, and strategies to build something else if Social Connect should crumble. 

They could take his business and his home, but no one could take what he had learned from the carpenter.  No one could destroy his spirit.  No one could stop him from changing the world.  It wouldn’t be easy, and for a while he and his family would lose all of the comforts they now enjoyed.  But he was willing to endure the struggle and pain in order to live his purpose and follow his dream.”

It’s all about influence and impact, and making the journey worth it through more moments that matter.

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