Book Review: Never Too Late To Be Great

Book Review: Never Too Late To Be GreatNever Too Late To Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long by Tom Butler-Bowdon
on January 1st 1970

Never Too Late to be Great is about the power of thinking long. Exposing the myth of 'overnight' success, author and motivational speaker Tom Butler-Bowdon shows us that contrary to popular belief, people, companies, products and ideas invariably need a long time to realise their potential.
Highlighting the importance of the 'ten-year rule' as referred to in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which suggests that significant achievements rarely happen without a decade of intense work and practice in any given area, Never Too Late to be Great offers inspiration for the impatient or disheartened to stay the course, and gives reassurance to us all that we have more time than we think to achieve our goals.


So as I’ve said in previous reviews, I’m currently making my way through books that I’ve found at the back of my bookshelf that I said I’d reviews years ago – literally years ago. I received Never Too Late To Be Great back in 2012 as part of the Goodreads First Reads programme but I’ve been putting it off because I was the greatest fan of non-fiction back then and I thought this book looked dull and uninteresting. How wrong was I! Never Too Late To Be Great has actually proved to be pretty inspirational so it’s true – never judge a book by its cover.

Never Too Late To Be Great is, as you can imagine, a non-fiction book about how it’s never too late to achieve your dreams and that despite what popular opinion is about numerous billionaires who were ‘overnight successes’, it takes years and years of work and effort, even if it’s subconscious, to achieve one’s goals. This book is made up of nine chapters, each one discussing either how important a certain decade in one’s life or how one’s potential in life progresses, through the use of numerous examples of celebrities and million, even billionaires. Each chapter begins with the thoughts of the author, followed by examples of others who exemplify what he has said, ending with a brief summary of many other achievers.

Never Too Late To Be Great gets off to a great start. I was completely sucked in by the opening pages as it seemed to be a really thorough, but most importantly, original, look at success. I’ve never read anything of the sort before but I am aware that there are hundreds and thousands of books out there targeted at people trying to ‘get rich quick’ or find easy routes to success. Butler-Bowdon’s book does the complete opposite. The saying “slow and steady wins the race” couldn’t be more appropriate for this title. The author dismisses the myths that people like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg were overnight successes and explains that every single successful person has dedicated years and years to their craft, whether they’re aware of it or not. The beginning chapters are the best in my opinion because all the advice given is directly from the author, who writes in a very persuasive and understanding manner.

Whilst the book got off to a flying start, I was slightly disappointed by the rest of the book as it became more and more about listing examples of people to back up the author’s point. At first this was inspiring, but as the book progressed this became repetitive and I have to admit that I skim read through several passages, especially if they were referring to successful people that I had never heard of. The majority of the chapters followed the format I stated above: a short introduction by the author, followed by a detailed look into the lives of several successful people and ending with pages and pages of short summaries of other successful ‘celebrities’. I actually quite liked this general format, it was just that it was repeated again and again with each chapter and it started to feel like I was reading a condensed biography of every successful person of the last century.

That said, the examples provided were (mostly) of people that are still relevant in today’s society or are people that are very well known for what they created, though perhaps not known at all for how they got there. Butler-Bowdon stresses time and time again that one should look at how successful people got to where they are and not what they did after their initial success. All these stories were fascinating, but as I said, there were just a few too many of them which meant that reading about that became a little tedious after a while.

Despite the negatives, overall my impression of this book is very positive. It achieved it’s goal of inspiring me and giving me fresh hope that success may still come in the future. At only 18 years old, this book is definitely not aimed my age group as the author’s measure for potential only begins at 20 years old though I still found it to be a thoroughly encouraging read. I would say that this book would suit those in their 40s the best or anyone else who’s going through a bit of a slump and ready to give up on their dreams. Don’t give up! This book will show you that you’ve still got years of potential left in you, even if you and those around you feel ‘old’. A lot of successful people actually didn’t find their true success until they were well into the second half of their life and there really is no such thing as ‘too old’. Reading these stories should help anyone kick start their ambitions and get themselves back on track.

All in all, Never Too Late To Be Great is a refreshing read that is suitable for those of all ages, though clearly targeted at those who have already lived a great portion of their lives. I found this book to be really uplifting so if you or somebody that you know are in need of a life then this is what you should be reading! As I said, I haven’t read any other non-fiction books about how to be successful, though I’d say that this is a pretty good guide and is probably one of the forerunners in this genre. So, if you’re in need of inspiration, pick up a copy of Never Too Late To Be Great and change your attitude today!

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