A debt you should be happy to pay

Book cover of "You Owe You" by Eric Thomas.
Book cover of “You Owe You” by Eric Thomas.
Cover provided by Rodale Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

“You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose & Your Why” by Eric Thomas, PhD; foreword by Chris Paul

c.2022, Rodale                                                    


275 pages


It’s just beyond your reach.

Frustrating, isn’t it? You work and you toil and you leap on opportunities and you never get any further than right where you are. Success always seems to be a half-inch past your fingertips but quitting is definitely the wrong idea, says Eric Thomas, PhD. In his new book “You Owe You,” learn how you’ve already got the right gifts to succeed.

Most people at age sixteen are looking for colleges, getting their driver’s license, or planning their next high school event. When he was 16, Eric Thomas left home for good and slept in the bushes next to his parents’ house. He’d gotten some news that made him feel as if his entire life was a lie and he acted accordingly, dropping out of school and living in a car his mother bought for him.

He had almost nothing back then but in retrospect, he understands that he caused it all himself. Lesson One: “Your choices are your own and nobody else’s.” Now he knows that “you don’t need to sabotage your whole life to have your feelings.”

To go forward, stop being a victim, Thomas says, and “move… toward your purpose.” Set a standard of self-behavior, don’t accept any excuses, and remember that you’re “alone when you tell yourself you are…”

Pick your support system and your friends carefully. Know your strengths and take care of the “superpower” you have. Don’t “live in potential,” be the potential.

But don’t overdo: “… honor your purpose by giving it boundaries,” says Thomas. Don’t worry about “code-switching” because, in many ways, you already do it. Find yourself “in love with learning.” Remember that good is good but great is better. Embrace the unfamiliar; it’s “the most interesting place to be.” Start a business with what you have because that’s “plenty.” And remember that “you are the only one who can change your life” and “nobody else is in charge of [your] future.”

Unless you need a refresher course, if you’re a CEO of an established company, you can stop here. “You Owe You” is a worthy read, but it’s really not for you.

Part memoir, part inspiration, this book is very much better-suited for someone who’s tired of everything and nothing and wants that to change. It’s for the reader who wants more but doesn’t have the first clue how to find the energy for that first step.

Author Eric Thomas, PhD, “the hip-hop preacher,” jump-starts the lessons almost immediately by sharing the unpleasant event that launched his success. From there, advice comes fast and frequent in page after page of guidance that’s generally buried in memoir. It’s also relentlessly, sometimes excessively, upbeat – even when it’s advice about discouragements.

There’s really no age limit on readership here, on either end of the spectrum. If you need a mental hand-up, no matter who you are, you’ll want this book for your own, for underlining, flagging, and quoting. When you need inspiration, “You Owe You” is the book you’ll keep reaching for.

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