Hell Yeah or No | Derek Sivers | Book Summary



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Hell Yeah or No: what’s worth doing by Derek Sivers

A collection of thoughts around re-defining yourself, changing focus, and saying yes to less


Updating Identity 

  • You can serve others locally or internationally. Both are necessary and neither is right nor wrong, but you need to strike a balance that works for you.
  • We reveal what we want not through our values, but our actions.
  • You have to keep earning your title. Success comes from doing, not deciding. Only speak in the present tense about what you’re actually doing.
  • You need to optimize for the goal you want and be willing to let go of the others.
  • When criticized for going against a stereotype (e.g., a frugal entrepreneur), take pride that you’re doing it right.
  • You can imitate existing ideas in the world and still offer something valuable and unique.
  • Old opinions shouldn’t define who we are in the future.
  • Public comments are just feedback on something you made. Don’t take it personally.
  • Character is the result of your little choices and little actions. How you do anything is how you do everything. It all matters.
  • Many things we think are true are really just our local culture. We can’t see it until we get outside of it.
  • There’s value in being present- and future-focused.
  • The world treats you as you treat yourself. Your actions show the world who you are. Take one small action to change your identity.

Saying No

  • If you’re not feeling “Hell yeah, that would be awesome” about something, say no. A simpler filter is saying no to all future distractions until you finish what you started.
  • Do things for their own sake. You don’t have to always be useful to others.
  • Avoid answering right away when asked a deep question. It’s okay to take your time to answer after thinking. Your first reaction is usually outdated anyway.
  • If you feel demotivated, find a way to adjust your environment, even if it inconveniences others.
  • Personal change needs space to happen. To bring something new into your life, you need somewhere to put it.
  • Before you start something, think of ways it could end. Sometimes the smart choice is to say no to the whole game.
  • You can be physically alone but extremely social.
  • To get out of a bad state of mind:
    • Ask yourself what’s wrong this very second;
    • Observe now and act later;
    • Raise your standards and say no to anything less than great;
    • Focus on your goal, and;
    • Do all the necessary stuff.

Making Things Happen

  • If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects.
  • Half of your effort is rarely effort at all, but just necessary stress that makes you feellike you are doing your best.
  • Disconnecting is rare and valuable in today’s world.
  • It’s important to separate the real goal from the old mental associations.
  • The perfect time to do dull tasks is when you’re not motivated.
  • Instead of comparing up to the next-higher situation, compare down to the next lower one. Think like a bronze medallist, not silver.
  • If you love doing something, it seems simple.
  • If you have a list of conditions you need to meet before you do something, try changing “and” to “or.”
  • Great insights come only from opening your mind to many options. There are always more than two options.
  • Beware of advice. Only you know what to do based on all the feedback you’ve received and all your personal nuances that no one else knows.
  • Early in your career, your best strategy is to say yes to everything. Then, when you’re overwhelmed with opportunities and options, learn to say “hell yeah or no” to avoid drowning.
  • Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. Think long term.

Changing Perspective

  • To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re still learning.
  • If you believe everything is your fault, then you’re the cause of what happens to you and can learn from your mistakes.
  • Being wrong means you’re learning.
  • Don’t be afraid to be the “counter-melody” and go against the common message.
  • Fulfillment comes from pursuing rather than attaining.

What’s Worth Doing?

  • Everybody’s idea seems obvious to them.
  • When life or a plan feels unsatisfying, it’s often because we’ve forgotten to find the intersection of what makes us happy, what’s smart, and what’s useful to others.
  • Your main obstacle to an amazing life is self-control.
  • Asking, “What do I hate not doing?” is a better indicator of what’s really worth doing.
  • Make decisions as late as possible.
  • Don’t start a business until people are asking you to.
  • Parenting is as much for your child as it is for you.

Fixing Faulty Thinking

  • We don’t get wise by adding and adding. We also need to subtract.
  • It’s easy to think we need something else. It’s hard to look instead at what to remove.
  • If you decide someone is stupid, it means you’re not thinking, which is not being smart.
  • When it comes to creativity, what matters is what you get out of someone’s work, not the person who made it.
  • We think the differences between our group and another group are greater than they are.
  • To get smarter, you need to get surprised, think in new ways, and deeply understand different perspectives.
  • When learning a new subject, don’t focus on the example itself. Use it as a metaphor, and apply the lesson to your situation.
  • To make a change, you have to be extreme.
  • Nothing has inherent meaning. We just choose to project meaning onto things.

Saying Yes

  • Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment.
  • Inspiration is not receiving information. Inspiration is applying what you’ve received.
  • Each plan is just one of many futures.
  • It’s dangerous to think in terms of “passion” and “purpose” because they sound like such huge overwhelming things. Instead, just notice what excites you and what scares you on a small moment-to-moment level.
  • Whatever scares you, go do it.




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