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Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning

Review

Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning

Straight off the Great White Way, Leslie Odom, Jr.’s FAILING UP is packed with personal anecdotes that tell the story of his rise within the entertainment industry with each one meant to inspire readers to achieve goals that seem near impossible.

The minute that I discovered FAILING UP I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. In doing so, I got to attend Odom’s tour stop in Naperville. Throughout the event, the over 900 audience members were treated to a reading from the book, a Q&A and a performance from the Burr, sir himself. The entire experience was marvelous. I laughed. I cried. I walked away feeling just as inspired as I was when I finally picked up Odom’s memoir.

As someone who has been struggling with anxiety and depression, there were times when I felt so lost. There were so many things in my life that seemed unattainable. I genuinely needed a story that could not only motivate me, but resonate with me, as well. I found these qualities and more in FAILING UP.

"I strongly encourage anyone who is feeling despair to take an hour out of their day to read FAILING UP. In the short time that it took me to consume the book, I was left with a long-lasting impact..."

One particular section of the book that really stuck with me is what Odom defines as “the gift of second place.” I’ve grown up most of my life as a perfectionist. I always wanted to be the best because that is what I believed it took to define my success. If I am not the best, then I am clearly a failure. Any gray area is nonexistent. In this section, Odom reaches out to people who have habits similar to my own by explaining how the “gift of second place” or even “the gift of last place” can be incredibly impactful to one’s journey to success. In order to truly reach a proper pathway to triumph over complications, Odom advises the reader to always be in a room with someone who is better at a particular skill than yourself. In following this strategy, there will be a lasting source of motivation to be better than you were the day prior. This motivation is what provides the key to betterment and fulfillment. Although this idea seems obvious, it is not until I really took the time to absorb the full value of this strategy that I realized how powerful it could be to me.

In one of the chapters of FAILING UP, Odom takes the time to dissect his personal experience with tokenism in Hollywood. I found this chapter to be incredibly impactful. In today’s society, there are so many people who preach for diversity. There is this desire to see minorities represented in platforms where they were once entirely absent. Although this call is rightful, many truly do not realize the steps that need to be taken to achieve a proper portrayal of minorities in the media, whether it be books, movies, television shows, or even in an everyday workplace. It is not enough for a boss to hire a diverse group of people. Their talents deserve to be utilized. It is important to recognize when tokenism is present. Are minorities being hired simply to make face for a society that clambers for diversity? Are their talents and capabilities being used to the full extent, as they should be? These are powerful questions that Odom wants the audience to consider in his discussion on tokenism. I walked away from this chapter having a deeper and more meaningful understanding of what an ideal example of diversity should be.

Having recently become a parent, Odom took the time at his event in Naperville to talk about his long-term goals for raising his newly-born daughter. He mentioned that the best parents he knew were the ones who never let the light go out of their child’s eyes. This particularly struck a chord with me as I knew what it was like to have that light feel truly extinguished. By reading Odom’s memoir, I found that light once more.

I strongly encourage anyone who is feeling despair to take an hour out of their day to read FAILING UP. In the short time that it took me to consume the book, I was left with a long-lasting impact that has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. I was given a countless amount of strategies and incentives to be able to tackle some of my biggest problem points. For this, I could not be more grateful.

Reviewed by Gabby B., Teen Board Member on April 9, 2018

Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning
by Leslie Odom, Jr.