The value of books is immeasurable.
But the most important thing is in application from them
Some of my favorite ones are biographies
I find reading about the life and times of influential people as a glimpse into how to incorporate what they know into my own life.
2 of my favorites I actually read as a teenager and recently revisited them as I’ve worked on Black Men Book Club
I’ve found so much wisdom from them, and I wanted to share it with you
So here are four lessons on grit I learned from Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
1. Opportunity Can’t be Ignored
One day in the 60s, Alex Haley—the writer who would finish and release Malcolm X’s autobiography—took a ride with Malcolm through Harlem.
He enjoyed being amongst the people, eyes constantly peering out of the car.
Out of the blue, Malcolm slammed his foot on the breaks during the ride. Startling Haley.
And before he could react, Malcolm jumped out of the car.
At this point, Malcolm was receiving death threats regularly, and its persistence made Hailey immediately nervous about his safety.
No guards, just the two of them on the rough streets of Harlem.
His voice was reaching the apex of controversy.
But Malcolm, never afraid, didn’t hesitate.
In front of a library, he began to scold three young black men he saw outside of it.
Haley is quoted that Malcolm said, in a raving, angry voice
“Beyond these doors is the greatest collection of information on black people in the world and there’s other people in there studying about you, but all you can do is sit outside of it and shoot craps against the door. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Haley continued, “Anyone else who would have come up to a group of school skipping teens in 60s Harlem may have had their throats cut right there. As pride is a high price to be lost on the streets.”
But it was Malcolm.
They felt ashamed. And it got to them.
Out of all of the things Malcolm left us with, it’s his voracious desire to learn as much as possible that I think seals his legacy to history.
2. You’ve Gotta Be Crazy Enough to Believe you Can Change the World
It’s no secret that Steve Jobs was hard to work with.
Stories abound of Steve firing people on the spot
Removing products from Apple’s lineup he thought was useless
Having an intensity that moved mountains with just stares.
But through all of that, he left us with the greatest product of the 21st century.
His madness was poetic, and the results speak for themselves.
But it didn’t start in a boardroom or an MBA degree.
It started in a garage with a maddening idea.
That Apple would make computers personal.
Sometimes you’re gonna have to bump up against the walls to create something in the world worth remembering.
“There’s a Wayne Gretzky quote I love, we skate where the puck is going to be, not where it is” - Steve Jobs
3. Integrity Above All Else
It was a time of massive change.
And Malcolm, as usual, was at the center of it.
The Civil Rights era was in full swing.
And many Black People were forming ideas about how to fight for the rights of Black People.
Malcolm, who had represented the Nation of Islam fervently, was eager to spread the message.
He had spoken all over the country and stirred up all kinds of fervor.
But there was something behind the curtains he couldn’t hold much longer.
A terrible rumor about the Nations leader, and a correctly suspicious Malcolm, who was at one point in total admiration of the man.
Malcolm left the Nation in disgust, traveling to Mecca and becoming closer to all races.
When in all reality, things like that had happened, and did happen, and continued to happen behind the scenes with powerful men.
But Malcolm refused to bend his beliefs.
Because they were above a man
They were from God.
His integrity, in many ways, not just from his lapse with the Nation of Islam, cost him his life.
But the message reigns supreme.
Integrity above all else.
4. Stories Are the Glue
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the company was in shambles
Lost were the glory days of the Macintosh
Lost was the innovative company he founded.
He threw it all out and started fresh.
One of the most potent things about Steve Job’s story is how he intersected technology and creativity.
He knew that the way people feel about what you do matters a whole lot more than what the thing is.
So it was important to him that not only were they going to change up the products they were selling at Apple.
But they were going to change how they marketed it.
“To me, marketing is about values. We’re not gonna get a chance for people to remember much about us. And the way to do that is not to talk about speeds and fees. Not about how we’re better than Microsoft. Customers want to know who is Apple, how do we fit in this world? We’re not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done. Apple’s core value is we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” - Steve Jobs before revealing the Think Different advertisement
We don’t have much time together, even with you whose reading or listening along.
And our values and message are the only things that resonate.
These two books changed my life in very different and very similar ways.
Please check them out and more biographies the club loves here at our book store. Every purchase supports keeping the club free forever.
But I want to toss it back to you, what’s one book you’ve read that changed your life? Reply to this email, comment on substack.
I truly do want to know.
I wish you all well, and Happy Holidays