Areté Book Summary - Areté Book explained in key points
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Areté summary

Brian C. Johnson

Activate Your Heroic Potential

4.6 (210 ratings)
16 mins
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    Areté
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    Key idea 1 of 4

    Seek truth and know yourself

    When asked, What do you want out of life? most people respond with the simple statement: to be happy. But our modern version of happiness – personal fulfillment, success, and meaningful relationships – is quite different from those of ancient philosophers like Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius or Seneca. 

    For instance, Aristotle thought that to be happy, you must live all your potential to the fullest in everyday life, and express your innate character in all your actions and circumstances. According to this definition, expecting happiness to arise from external aspects of your life – like wealth or career – is akin to building your house on sand: unstable and liable to crumble. For Aristotle, to be truly happy, you must know your core virtues, endeavor to correct your weaknesses, and consistently work towards your highest goals.

    While this might seem like an extreme view in modern life, the virtues of seeking truth and knowing yourself are timeless. Embracing and pursuing truth through serious self-reflection forms the foundation of any heroic journey. 

    Of course, part of this exercise is being able to look at yourself and your behaviors, and withhold judgment long enough to get a more realistic view. This is particularly important when deciding how you might address weaknesses in yourself through cultivating corresponding strengths.

    To begin activating your heroic potential, reflect on what you hold to be fundamental, lasting truths that have stood the test of time. You might have learned these truths by reading great works of philosophy or religion, which are largely concerned with defining truth. Or your highest truths might have come through experience, deep reflection, or relationships with mentors and teachers. 

    Whatever your highest truths are, write them down. Try to limit yourself to three-to-five central truths, and bear these in mind going forward. 

    Stating your truth can help you in the next phase of unlocking your potential, which is seeking self-knowledge with courage and compassion. That’s because everyone has areas in life where they fall short of their ideals. Maybe you dream of being a great dancer, but struggle to motivate yourself to practice every day. Or perhaps you long to be a good public speaker, but your nerves and fears keep you from seeking out opportunities to hone your skills. Whatever your goal, self-knowledge is key. And understanding your truths is a crucial step in gaining self-knowledge. 

    Once you’ve written down your foundational truths, try using them to clarify your values. You’ll need to know your top values and why they resonate with you deeply, so that you can then craft a personal plan to put them into action. Try to identify your top ten values, and rank them in order of importance. Once you have this list, brainstorm ways you could put them into practice in everyday life.

    Knowing your truths and values will help you shift into a hero’s mindset. Instead of viewing difficult situations or struggles as negative, those on the heroic path embrace challenges as opportunities to build courage and self-mastery, according to their values. A hero turns potential failures into wins, by using them to polish their character.

    Once you’ve grounded yourself in your truth and armed yourself with awareness, you’ve laid a solid foundation for your heroic journey. Next, it’s time to find courage and pursue mastery. Let’s explore these objectives now.

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    What is Areté about?

    Areté (2023) explores the ancient Greek concept of the excellence of character, and how it can be applied to modern life in order to find fulfillment, lead with courage, and realize one’s full potential. Blending philosophy, psychology and storytelling, it provides insights and practical exercises aimed at cultivating wisdom, justice, courage, and self-mastery. 

    Areté Review

    Areté (2022) by Brian C. Johnson is an insightful exploration of how embracing our inner potential can lead to personal fulfillment and success. Here are three reasons why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Packed with practical strategies and exercises, it empowers readers to unlock their true abilities and make meaningful progress in various aspects of life.
    • By sharing inspiring stories and examples of individuals who have achieved greatness, the book motivates readers to strive for their own personal excellence.
    • Through its thought-provoking insights and reflections on personal growth, the book engages readers in a journey of self-discovery, making it a captivating and enriching read.

    Who should read Areté?

    • Those looking to develop grit and resilience in achieving their goals
    • Activists and change-makers looking to sustain themselves for the long haul
    • Anyone seeking to cultivate courage, character, and wisdom in the face of life’s challenges

    About the Author

    Brian Johnson is an author, entrepreneur, and founded several social platforms, including eteamz and Zaadz, before going on to create the Heroic app and Heroic Public Benefit Corporation. He is the author of A Philosopher’s Notes, and host of the popular podcast Heroic with Brian Johnson.

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    Areté FAQs 

    What is the main message of Areté?

    Areté is a guide to fulfilling your potential and achieving excellence in every area of life.

    How long does it take to read Areté?

    The reading time for Areté varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Areté a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Areté is worth reading because it offers practical advice on personal growth and achieving success.

    Who is the author of Areté?

    The author of Areté is Brian C. Johnson.