Let me tell you about two guys. They grew up as the youngest siblings in a family of six kids, all crammed into a 720-square-foot home. Their father struggled with anger issues. Their home life had little structure; the grass went unmowed, basic home repairs went unmade, and visits from the local police were not unknown.
If I told you that Bert and John Jacobs ended up incarcerated or as victims of some gang-related crime, you probably wouldn’t be surprised. But what if I told you that these two brothers founded a clothing brand presently worth more than $100 million? What if I told you that their Life Is Good Kids Foundation has donated millions to children’s charities?
Their 2015 book, Life Is Good–the Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, details the brothers’ journey through a “free-range” childhood and describes how they built a clothing brand on little more than imagination and optimism. Bert and John discuss the ten “Life Is Good Superpowers”–Openness, Courage, Simplicity, Humor, Gratitude, Fun, Compassion, Creativity, Authenticity, and Love–and provide a playlist of ten songs for each superpower.
Discussing Superpower #2, Courage, the Jacobs brothers open with the story of their sister Auberta–Berta–who suffered a broken neck that left her completely paralyzed. Told by a doctor that she was not likely to walk again, Berta responded with courage and determination. After a risky surgery and two years of grueling rehab, she was not only walking, but also riding a bike. Drawing deep lessons from their sister’s courage, Bert and John narrate the literal hundreds of setbacks they faced while trying to launch their fledgling clothing brand. They make the valuable point that courage is required not only for acts of heroism or dogged perseverance; it is also essential for the daily struggle to face and learn from rejection and failure.
Superpower #5, Gratitude, is closely related. The chapter opens with one of the many letters the brothers have received over the years from customers. They call these testimonials “fuel,” because these communications inspire and empower them and their team to keep learning, creating, improving, and doing. The letter that opens the “Gratitude” chapter is from Alex, who, with his twin brother Nick, was born very prematurely. Alex had to have a leg amputated, and Nick is blind. But Alex says, “We both have extra challenges in the world, but at the end of the day we still have each other.” The Jacobs brothers drive home the point that gratitude is not just for the good times; it’s even more crucial during life’s challenges.
I knew I would like this book when I read the first eleven words of the introduction: “Life is not easy. Life is not perfect. Life is good.” And as a result, Life is Good–the Book became the 20th annual Holiday Gift Book that was sent to our clients in December.
Life Is Good–The Book is available on Amazon.com or at your favorite bookseller. If you read it, send me an e-mail and let me know what you liked best about the book.