Ben’s Book Of Choice:

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be

Author: Paul Arden

Published: 2003

Ben’s Rating: 4/5

I read this book a few months ago and just came across my notes about it so I thought I would share them with you. This book is a brilliant short read. It popped up a few times in recommended reading lists. I’m normally very picky when it comes to reading my next book but I got a good feeling about this one. The fact that it was small, it’s about a creative advertising director and from all the recommendations, possibly a valuable book, which it turned out to be.

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be


1. Do Not Seek Praise. Seek Criticism.

This is a great lesson for us who are eager to learn but also for the timid managers and leaders. Praising people at the right time is a critical leadership skill but praising people rather than constructively criticising them when they’ve made a mistake is not being kind, it’s actually being untruthful in order to avoid awkwardness and it’s extremely ineffective.

In the end, the valuable people in your life will not be those who always praised you but the those who were willing to hurt your feelings in order to tell you the truth that you need to hear.

If you want to grow, instead of seeking approval ask “what’s wrong with it? How can I make it better? Can you find fault with this?” This way, you are more likely to get a truthful critical answer, even from “kind” people.

2. The Power Of Ambition vs Talent.

The author used Victoria Beckham(Posh Spice) as a great example. He explained that Victoria Beckham didn’t have any standout talents but had a strong ambition to be known and in her own words: “Be as famous as Persil Automatic” (one of the UK’s leading detergents). She clearly made that happen and now we’re talking about her. Although I have completely different goals from posh spice I get the point that it’s not how good she was that mattered, it’s how good she wanted to be and if you have the same drive to achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself, no matter how bad you think you are just now, if you want to get better and you put in the work to get better, then you will get better.

“Talent helps, but it won’t take you as far as ambition.”

3. Clever People Are Taken Over By Ambitious People

People who are conventionally clever end up getting jobs on their qualifications (the past), not on their desire to succeed (the future).

Very simply, they eventually get overtaken by those who continually strive to be better than they are.

4. You Don’t Need Experience To Be Creative

“Knowledge comes from the past so it’s safe. It is also out of date. It’s the opposite of originality.”

“Experience is the opposite of being creative.””It’s wrong to be right, because people who are right are rooted in the past.” (Closed minded)

“High creativity is responding to situations without critical thought.” – John Cheese

5. Don’t Give A Speech. Put On A Show.

“When we go to conferences, we generally go to see the speaker over hearing what they have to say.

“We know what they have to say. That’s why we go to see them.”

Favourite quote:

“Do not put your cleverness in front of the communication.”


This wee book is packed full of wisdom. Almost line for line, I found myself taking notes. I’ve just picked out some of my favourite parts but I suggest you go and buy a copy today and read it for yourself. You’ll start and complete it pretty quickly and become wiser by end of it.

Have you read this book?

If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below this post.

– Ben