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Book Review: Relentless by Tim Grover

Tim Grover has been a big influence on me ever since I read his book, Relentless in high school. I’ve learned so much about motivation, work ethic, and success from this book. I continued to draw inspiration and lessons from this book after rereading it this week.

The great thing about Tim Grover is that he tells it how it is. He’s not afraid to tell the truth about what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of sports. You may not agree with everything that Grover writes about in this book, but at least it will give you a new perspective to look at things.

In this book, Grover breaks down people into three groups: coolers, closers, and cleaners.
A cleaner works relentlessly to get the best results. A cooler is a lazy person who allows life to dictate their outcomes. And a closer is someone in the middle. Throughout the book, Tim Grover shows how cleaners distinguish themselves from everyone else.

According to Grover, these are the 13 characteristics that cleaners share:
1. You keep working hard when others give up.
2. You get into the zone and control your performance.
3. You know who you truly are.
4. You embrace your “dark side.”
5. You embrace pressure.
6. Others count on you when they need you most.
7. You compete with yourself, not others.
8. You are decisive because you trust your instincts.
9. You crave results.
10. You don’t care about being liked.
11. You are careful about who you trust.
12. You learn from failure and persevere.
13. You’re never satisfied. You always want more.

Out of these 13 lessons, my favorites are the ones related to having extreme motivation, work ethic, and discipline. Grover gives you the courage and inspiration to work towards your biggest dreams. He wants you to become the best at what you do and he doesn’t want you to feel ashamed about it. He teaches you that to become the best, you have to make sacrifices and outwork your competition. And in order to reach your goals and stay at the top of your field, you can never be satisfied. He makes it clear that as soon as you lose your hunger to succeed, others will take your position. This may not always make you happy in the moment,  but it’s needed to get the best results, which makes it all worth it!

While I’m a big advocate for maintaining balance in life, I love Grover’s motivational messages because I believe many people have too much balance in life. In my opinion, too many people start worrying about burning out too soon. I think the line between training and over-training is farther than most people realize. I believe we are capable of much more training and success before we hit the point of over-training and burnout. That’s why I think most people can benefit from Grover’s motivational messages.

However, I do think Grover tends to overemphasize results a bit too much. Results are important. We need to have tangible goals to keep us motivated, but I strongly believe we need to be equally as focused on the process as well. Obsessing about results can not only hurt your mental health, but also your performance in games. I write about this topic in more detail here.

Another criticism I have of this book is Grover’s advice to “embrace your dark side.” This basically means to use your most selfish motivations to drive you to succeed in sports. While these type of ego-driven motives can be very strong and easily accessible, I don’t agree with Grover that they’re necessary for success. I strongly believe people can succeed while using purer motivations. It may take more discipline to be both a successful and a good person, but it’s still possible. And as coaches, we should promote healthy motives as much as possible.

This book is mainly a motivational book, but there’s also a lot of great practical tips for improving your performance in games. The chapters on entering the zone and embracing pressure will greatly help your mental game.  For example, Grover says Michael Jordan never got too fired up before games. He would stay cool and collected in order to save all his energy for the game. This helped Jordan stay in the zone for the entire game. This is a mental tip that can be helpful for certain athletes. Also, when Michael Jordan felt butterflies in his stomach before games, Grover told him to “get them all going in the same direction.” This is good advice because you can’t always eliminate your nerves before games, but you can manage them and perform well despite of them by controlling how you interpret your nerves. Here’s another way Jordan coped with pressure: when Jordan was nervous before games, he would increase his confidence by thinking about how nervous his opponents were about facing him.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to all coaches and athletes. You will gain a lot of motivation and wisdom from book! After reading this book, a fire will be lit inside of you and all you’ll want to do is start working harder toward your goals!

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