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

Daniel M. Cable

Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential

4.6 (123 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Exceptional by Daniel M. Cable explains how individuals can thrive in life and work by pursuing and leveraging their unique strengths and talents. It provides evidence-based insights and practical tools for unlocking our full potential and finding fulfillment.

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    To be at your best, you need to build on your strengths.

    Imagine you could turn on the TV every morning to watch the best moments from your past week. Perhaps you’d replay a great presentation you gave at work. Maybe you’d get a glimpse of yourself helping out a neighbor. You’d experience yourself at your kindest, most inspired, and most productive. Wouldn’t this make you feel amazing?

    Unfortunately, unless you’re a superstar athlete, your personal best-of won’t air on TV anytime soon. And if you’re like most people, the clips playing in your head are more like a blooper reel – an endless rerun of past mistakes and failures. What would happen if you trained yourself to focus on your best qualities instead?

    The key message here is: To be at your best, you need to build on your strengths.

    Everyone has weaknesses and limitations. To avoid making a fool of yourself, it’s good to be aware of them. But simply mitigating your flaws is hardly a source of excellence. Just like a superstar athlete, you make your best impact when you lean into what you naturally do well.

    Research shows how powerful it can be to focus on your strengths instead of your flaws. One study from the University of Auckland followed a group of teenagers with physical disabilities over a one-month workshop. In the first two weeks, the teens learned to perform several assembly tasks. Then, one part of the group watched their personal highlight reel – a video of themselves working on the tasks, but with all the mistakes edited out. The second group watched an unedited video of themselves. Guess which group performed better over the next two weeks? That’s right – the teens who’d watched themselves excelling. They became a full 15 percent more productive than the others.

    That’s because positive feedback about your abilities fills you with a sense of accomplishment, pride, and purpose. This inspires you to keep up the good work – and to do even better.

    Of course, you can’t go through life filming every great thing you do. But there’s a way to create your personal highlight reel without a camera. These blinks will teach you how to do just that. But first, let’s have a look at why it can be so hard to find your unique strengths.

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    What is Exceptional about?

    Exceptional (2020) shows you how to discover your strengths and build on them to become the best version of yourself. By creating a personal highlight reel of your life, you’ll learn how to spot your talents, build confidence, and unlock your full potential – both at work and at home.

    Best quote from Exceptional

    The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

    —Daniel M. Cable
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    Who should read Exceptional?

    • Self-deprecating people who wonder where their talents lie
    • High achievers who feel like they’re stuck in a rut
    • Anyone curious about what people will say at their funeral

    About the Author

    Daniel M. Cable is a professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School. His consultancy, Essentic, has worked with companies like Twitter, Coca-Cola, and IKEA to help employees discover their unique strengths and talents. He’s written two other books on his methodology, Change to Strange and Alive at Work.

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