I have been a longtime fan of both Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy for some time now. Michael, the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, is the guru of gurus for productivity hacking, permission marketing, and building an online platform, a reference to the title of his most recent book, which was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller. His blog is one of the most visited in the world, ranked by Google as in the top one-half percent across the internet. Through his podcast, “This is Your Life”, Michael regularly shares life changing content with his listeners. Daniel Harkavy, Michael’s long-time friend and coach, is the founder and CEO of Building Champions, a premier executive coaching firm he started in 1996. His previous book Becoming a Coaching Leader provided an exceptionally practical and paradigm shifting model for coaching, that I greatly benefited from.
In the duo’s new book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want (Baker Books, 2016), the two authors combine their vast array of experience to offer readers a step-by-step action plan for turning their dreams into reality. With endorsements from fellow peak performance and productivity coaches like Tony Robbins, David Allen, Darren Hardy, and Dan Miller, as well as thought leaders like John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Andy Andrews, Dave Ramsey, Henry Cloud, and Max Lucado, the professional praise runs deep for this new roadmap, or a compass if you will, for planning not just your career, but offering a holistic and practical plan for creating the life you truly want.
In addition to the proprietary material shared, the authors also make reference to Benjamin Franklin’s historically famous “Thirteen Essential Virtues”, which includes topics like frugality, sincerity, and tranquility, as well as the work of previous life plan and S.W.O.T. systems, to show the effectiveness of how having a thought-out process for establishing and reaching goals, can lead to both success and significance.
The “Three Powerful Questions” asked as a way to structure the book’s content, include the personal inquiries:
How do I want to be remembered?
What matters most?
How can I get from here to where I want to be?
These questions help the reader to, as the late Stephen Covey made popular, “begin with the end in mind”, thus keeping the theme of legacy at the forefront.
Additionally, an opening metaphor of how a personal GPS can turn good intention into right action, with passionate conviction and encouraging motivation, sets the stage for the remaining chapters, and sheds personal insights to the lives and struggles of the authors.
Furthermore, each chapter begins with an inspiring quote by well-known success stories such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Carlyle, King Solomon, and Andy Warhol. The quotes themselves reflect a critical piece of the Life Plan process. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals, defined as specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound, are another major part of the Life Plan procedure.
In particular, I especially enjoyed the Nine Basic Life Accounts, categorized by The Circle of Being, listing the spiritual, physical, and intellectual self; The Circle of Relating, where interpersonal connections like marital, parental, and social relationships exist; and The Circle of Doing: where we live out our vocation, avocational hobbies, and see financial returns. The authors recommend a writing a short Life Plan for each of the nine accounts described and provide a number of real-life examples to help illustrate the final outcome.
Finally, I think perhaps the most valuable piece of the book for me, was Hyatt and Harkavy’s description of the Life Assessment Profile TM. Lift, Drift, Shift, and Gift: the four quadrants that run along the “passion” vertical alignment and the “progress” horizontal axis, provide the reader with a visual for understanding where they currently are. The key Hyatt and Harkavy state, is to live in the “Gift” zone. This is the upper-right hand corner of the quadrant, where both passion and progress are high. In the Gift zone, the emotional feelings are satisfaction and gratitude. This is where life is both meaningful and enjoyable.
Beneficial for people at every life stage, including business leaders stuck in “half-time”, second career professionals in transition, or college graduates just beginning their journey into the “real world”, if read and applied, Living Forward has the potential to make sure you are staying true to your due north and allows the reader grace and practicality for making course corrections along the way.
Truly raising the bar and setting a new standard in the field of self-help and personal growth literature, Living Forward is one of the best books I have read that can actually help people get from where they are, to where they want to be.