This book is about success, but it's also about allowing yourself to be vulnerable and make mistakes. What does "Extreme You" mean?
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: "Extreme You" is ultimately what I call living at the edge of your own potential. So that means really understanding who you are, what you love, where you suck and where you're good so that you can figure out where you play to your best. And then really sort of push yourself to get more out of you every single day. It's about being vulnerable, and it is about failing on the way to succeeding.
You say you were an average kid. What were you like?
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: You know, never got the lead part in the play, never got A grades, frankly. And I just was one of these people with quite sort of average skills. But I just kept pushing, because I kept thinking if I try and push and learn and discover, surely, eventually, I will have some success of my own. And that's really what the whole book is about, is that you can get there as long as you have the sort of the grit and the resilience to discover the best of who you are.
You were successful in your 20s, but you also had some failures.
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: Yeah, so in my 20s, I got fired once and laid off once, back to back. So I fondly call it my "canyon of career despair." It's the time when most of us in our careers are really getting going, you know? And it just all went pear-shaped for me. It went all backwards.
But eventually, I started to realize that if I was really honest about it, it was my problem. And I was way over my skis in a job where I just didn't have the sort of foundational capability to do what I needed to do. And I was kind of blindly going along doing my own thing because I'd had successes in the past. And it was a huge, huge learning.
You mentioned feeling like a fraud at that time.
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: I can remember joining Nike when I was in my late 20s, having just been laid off twice feeling like a total fraud, because I was surrounded by these incredibly intense, competitive, highly talented people. And I'm sitting there every day going, "Oh my God, oh my God, they're going to find out I got fired. They're going to know I'm useless," you know?
When we think of successful people, we tend to imagine that they came up with one goal and then just crushed it for the rest of their lives, but that's not true, is it?
Sarah Robb O'Hagan: 100%! I've researched and interviewed 23 of the most successful, accomplished people on the planet. I'm talking everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Bode Miller, the downhill skier, to Mr. Cartoon, who's a famous tattoo artist. These are extraordinary successful people.
And what I found in every single instance is none of them knew when they started that that's what they were going to become. And I actually learned that our whole kind of perception of success, especially when you're young, is a little bit backwards.
Because you get so focused on, "I want to get here," but what I found from all of these people is they just focused on developing themselves and making themselves become better in the thing that they love doing.