If you find vulgar language offensive, this book is not for you. I'll just start there for any of my Christian friends or congregants. I do not want you to turn the audio book on with your kids around and then never speak to me again.
Anyone familiar with the work of the comedian Kevin Hart would probably not be surprised to discover that his book of "life lessons" contains explicit language. However, I really enjoyed this hilarious book not only for the entertainment value (which is high), but also for the work ethic lessons we all need.
Here are my three takeaways from I Can't Make This Up
1. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
Kevin Hart worked as a comedian for over a decade before his big break. You almost get exhausted from just reading his journey! There were many times that Kevin had small breaks that as a reader you think is going to lead to the stardom he has today.
However, for every two steps of forward progress there is a step backwards, or in some cases 10 steps backwards. Yet, Kevin never quit working. The superstar today that is Kevin Hart is not an overnight success. He worked hard to get where he is.
This is both wildly discouraging and motivating at the same time. We tend to look for quick success. We want to be the overnight sensation, but fail to realize that they are as common as unicorns. To be successful it takes years of failure and work. All meaningful things take a commitment to the long term grind.
2. Your response to circumstances matters more than the circumstance.
Kevin has experienced some wild things in his life. When hear some of the stories about his marriage and childhood you will begin to understand why the book is titled I Can't Make This Up.
One time, Kevin's dad was supposed to take him to a youth camp. However, he didn't know where the camp was and eventually dropped him off at a random church in the middle of nowhere. He didn't even wait to see if Kevin was at the right place. In another story, his dad was so angry over losing a basketball game that he sent his dog to attack Kevin and his older brother. Who does that?
There are countless more stories like this in the book. Kevin had a tough childhood and yet, he doesn't view it negatively. Throughout the book he refers to "shoulder shrugging" which is his way of staying positive no matter how negative the situation.
This confirmed my belief that your response to your circumstance matters more than the circumstance itself. You can ruminate all you want on how bad your life is and all the unfair hands you've been dealt, but at the end of the day you'll only be hurting yourself. You will grow bitter, lazy and overall a nightmare to be around. Your other choice is to embrace the past as things to learn from. You can even find what is funny in the past (like Kevin) and shoulder shrug it as you continue moving forward. The person who reacts with the shoulder shrug is joyful even when life isn't.
I'm not saying you don't have reasons to feel bad for yourself, because we all do. Some of you have more reasons than others of us. What I am saying is that you have a choice in how you react to those circumstances and your response moving forward will determine the quality of your future.
3. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.
I think my middle school football coach was the first to share this quote with me. I don't know why, but it has always stuck with me. I wont rehash most of what I said in my first takeaway, but Kevin embodies this. He had raw talent, but was willing to do years of work to develop the skill. He drove hours from his home in Philadelphia to New York City every week just to build relationships and work at his craft as much as he could.
If you want the success of others, you have to be willing to put in the years of hard work they put in.
"I am a selfish guy. Very selfish actually. How else would it be possible to write a book this big by myself? You gotta be selfish to talk about yourself for this many pages."
That is a quote from Kevin near the end of the book and he isn't kidding, it is a big book about himself!
The audio version is 11 hours and 16 minutes. It is read by Kevin himself with plenty of improvisation along the way. It is highly entertaining to hear him read his own book!
The print version is 400 pages.
Buy or Pass:
It's entertaining for sure, but if you are only going to read a few books this year I probably wouldn't recommend this one. If you do decide to purchase this, make sure you go with the audio version!