Book Review: The Tools

Book Review: The Tools

Using the tool regularly reveals the secret about pain that allows you to master it:

pain is not absolute.

Your experience of pain changes relative to how you react to it. When you move toward it, pain shrinks. When you move away from it, pain grows. If you flee from it, pain pursues you like a monster in a dream. If you confront the monster, it goes away.
– The Tools

The book The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels is a great set of tactical ideas on psychological mastery of one’s own life. It discusses our mindset, and how we can, in very practical ways, influence our own thinking to be more productive and successful.

It’s a good book, and worth a read. I, of course, liked the chapter on the reversal of desire the best, as it deals with much of the same principles that I am interested in. Of course, in this passage (quoted above), the concept of pain is substituted for failure. In the end, though, the mindset for dealing with both discomfort/pain and for failure is vary similar:

Direct Engagement.

Whether we call it “mindset”, “grit”, or “leaning in”, turning to face our difficulties is in almost every scenario an effective strategy for personal development or growth. It isn’t easy, but learning to understand, learn from, and reclaim our failures can give us experiences and growth that we can’t get any other way.

If you’d like to learn more from the authors of The Tools, then you should check out their site. Here is a link directly to the page on The Reversal of Desire:

Here is a link to order the book from

Failure Reading List – November, 2019

November 2019 Reading List

This is the list of books I’m working through, all related to failure in one way or another. What am I missing?

Failure: Why Science is So Successful – Stuart Firestein
Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Creating Space to Thrive – Courtney Kenney
The Innovator’s Mindset – George Couros
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Amy Morin
The Tools – Phil Stutz & Barry Michels
Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn – John C. Maxwell
Failing Forward – John C. Maxwell
The Gift of Failure – Jessica Lahey
The Art of Tinkering – Karen Wilkinson & Mike Petrich

As I read them, I’ll post my thoughts / reviews, so check back often or subscribe!

Book Review: Creative Calling

Reclaiming Failure Book Review - Creative Calling, by Chase Jarvis

You will make mistakes, run into obstacles, and downright fail at each and every phase of the creative process from idea through launch. Together, let’s get better at it. Let’s fail better.”

Chase Jarvis’ book, Creative Calling, is a reflective look at Jarvis’ creative journey and his ideas around the creative process. While the book itself isn’t about failure, per se, failure is found throughout. Part tactical, part motivational, the book seems to be targeting the “creative” on its face. Of course, those in a creative pursuit might find some of the advice in the book more readily accessible, but Jarvis does a reasonable job of broadening the book’s audience. He does often veer into “business” or “entrepreneurship”, working to include them in the canon of “creativity”.

Structurally, the book fleshes out Jarvis’ own model for developing one’s creative pursuit, represented by the acronym IDEA (Imagine, Design, Execute, Amplify).  The book’s four sections work to flesh these out using personal examples, a little research, and some tactical advice.  Failure, as a topic, comes in under the “Execute” section.  In this part of the book, Jarvis address many of the themes around failure and reclaiming failure, including overcoming fear and the impostor syndrome, mindfulness and practice, and the importance of taking action.

Creative Calling is a good book.  If you are trying to get started in a creative pursuit, then it is a great book.  The section on failure spends a lot of time talking about Jarvis’ Best Camera app, which was a first-to-market predecessor to Instagram that ultimately lost the race (at least in part) because of some bad business decisions.  Despite this, there are some good nuggets of wisdom to be found in there, especially as failure is connected to creative work.