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Be Excellent at Anything Summary

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Be Excellent at Anything Summary

The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live

Don’t you just feel that your job is sucking the life out of you?

Well, it doesn’t really have to be that way!

In “Be Excellent at Anything,” Tony Schwartz explains what you (whether a manager or an employee) can do to change this.

And we have the summary!

Who Should Read “Be Excellent at Anything”? And Why?

Technology should have been humanity’s savior. Unfortunately, it seems to have merely taken over of our lives. Especially, in the workspace, where it has transformed us into unhappy defocused, multitasking, atrophied machines.

“Be Excellent at Anything” tackles these problems. And it is mostly directed at leaders and HR reps. However, dissatisfied employees may use its strategies as well.

Just like anyone else.

About Tony Schwartz

Tony SchwartzTony Schwartz is the founder and CEO of The Energy Project, which addresses human performance.

He is most famous as the co-author of Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” an endeavor he deeply regrets about today.

Co-written with Jim Loehr, his latest book, “The Power of Full Engagement” has been translated in over 30 languages. It was both a “Wall Street Journal” and “New York Times” bestseller.

“Be Excellent at Anything Summary”

Do you know what “citius, altius, fortius” means?

How can you: Latin classes are way back and your memory… well, it’s certainly not unlimited!

Let us help you: the answer is “Faster, Higher, Stronger”!

Does it ring a bell?

Of course, it does! It’s the Olympics motto! And it’s been used in many motivational and inspirational videos! So many, in fact, that by now you’ve probably forgotten that it’s sports-related only.


Exactly! The “more, bigger, faster” strategies don’t really work in the workspace environment! Unfortunately, if anything, they only amount to frustration after frustration!

Is there a way out?

Yes, there is!

And it’s a 4-step program which addresses all of a person’s basic needs.

Let’s have a look at it – step by step!

1. Sustainability: Body

In an age of alternate facts, it’s no wonder that most of today’s businesses ignore science as well!

And it’s evolution and science which got us here in the first place!

For one thing, leaders seem to have forgotten that they are managing human beings. And that humans need to sleep, eat, and take rest from time to time!

Unfortunately, these are the first things employees sacrifice when pushed to the wall!

And eating and sleeping well changes not only the quality of your life, but also the quality of your work! Not resting enough or eating unhealthy things is what makes you brain and your decision-making abilities suffer!

It’s your company’s duty to take care of this!

So, all of you managers and leaders, wellness programs and fitness initiatives shouldn’t be optional – they should be mandatory! And the next time you see an employee of yours resting or stretching, don’t reproach him! Encourage him.

It pays off fourfold!

Not only with the happiness and the productiveness of that certain employee. But, also with your good image among the other employees, and their future mindset in terms of their physical health!

2. Security: Emotions

According to “Be Excellent at Anything”, there are four different emotional energy zones: survival, burnout, renewal, and performance.

No need to tell you which pair is the good one, right?

Unfortunately, most of the workers out there exists solely in the survival and the burnout energy zone. They are impatient and angry, they are frustrated and anxious. In a way, they feel just as stressed as a man attacked by a lion felt millions of years ago!

Sure, they can use this to their benefit, but survival mode leads to exhaustion and burnout. And, everybody loses when this occurs.

So, renew the enthusiasm in your workers. Trigger their positive emotional responses, by being a maternal figure once in a while!

Share your vision with them and make your employees feel as if they are part of a family! Not expendable goods, but unique genuine performers you care about!

You’ll know when your employees are in performance mode.

They’ll be optimistic, challenged and invigorated.

And, what’s more, they’ll like you a lot!

3. Self-expression: Mind

If you’re a manager, we can’t stress this loud enough:

Stop making your employees multitask!

Not only it doesn’t work, it actually doesn’t even exist! It makes your employees feel unproductive and unsatisfied. Consequently, unhappy.

It’s their job to eliminate distractions and learn how to focus. However, it’s your job to give them an opportunity to set their minds straight.

Yes, that means yoga!

Mindful meditation has been proven to work over and over again!

And happier people make for happier companies.

No need to prove that.

4. Significance: Spirit

Mindful meditation is only the first step towards finding your true self.

Money motivates – but not as much as the feeling that work matters. Managers should be aware of this and learn that nobody wants to spend eight hours a day doing things nobody has any benefit of!

Compassion, self-sacrifice (and other things Brené Brown usually talks about) – these are the things that make life worth living.

Spend time with your employees to explain how their job matters.

That can make even a frustrating job worthwhile.

Key Lessons from “Be Excellent at Anything”

1.      More, Bigger, Faster… Than What?
2.      The Four Keys to Transforming Your Work and Life
3.      Managers and Leaders, Do the Right Thing

More, Bigger, Faster… Than What?

No, the Olympics motto is not a good strategy to run a company! It’s actually the worst one!

It’s what makes managers bad people, and employees expendable goods in order to reach an unreachable goal!

So, try to do more, and be bigger, and work faster – if you don’t care about your workers or yourself!

The Four Keys to Transforming Your Work and Life

There are four areas that define a person’s life.

“Be Excellent at Anything” delineates them as your body, your emotions, your mind, and your spirit.

And it suggests that in order to be a good worker (or a happy man, for that matter), first, you need be in pretty good physical shape.

Then, you need achieve a performance mode emotional state.

Your mind needs to be free and mindful, and your spirit – zen and reaching out to others.

Only then – things will make sense!

Managers and Leaders, Do the Right Thing

So, if you’re a manager, there are few things you need to do to help your team achieve the condition of full potential.

First of all, encourage your employees to physically care for themselves. Secondly, thank them and show them that you appreciate their work. Thirdly, trust them and give them more responsibilities.

Finally, teach them how their work matters.

And, break the rules when possible.

You see, some companies work pretty well – even though they are unconventional as hell!

(Since it rhymes – as Phoebe Buffay once taught us – it must be true.)

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“Be Excellent at Anything” Quotes

The relentless urgency that characterizes most corporate cultures undermines creativity, quality, engagement, thoughtful deliberation and, ultimately, performance. Click To Tweet In a significant number of cases, people actually get worse at their jobs over time. Click To Tweet When something really matters, we bring vastly more energy to it: more focus, conviction, passion and perseverance. Click To Tweet If you don’t truly love what you do, simply being good at it will never be deeply energizing or satisfying. Click To Tweet An organization that invests in its people across all dimensions of their lives and rallies them around an inspiring purpose is actually investing in itself. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Be Excellent at Anything” – which has an even catchier title now: “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance”  – is an all-in-one guidebook.

It doesn’t really share many new insights, but, nevertheless, it combines many essential ones. And all of them ring true and seem applicable in the workspace! Less so – but still ­– in life as well!

The book is readable and interesting, and we feel that companies will benefit from paying attention to the strategies it elucidates. The bottom line is – they’ve got nothing to lose trying!

The fact that the book is based on serious case studies (Ford, Sony, Ernst & Young) is evidence enough that it’s not all wishful thinking!

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