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How to Fight a Hydra: Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be

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A survival manual for ambitious artists entrepreneurs ADVENTURERS You have a Hydra: a grand, ambitious project you’ve always wanted to tackle. It feels overwhelming, unconquerable. Chop off one of a Hydra’s heads, and two more grow in its place. How will you ever defeat such a terrifying monstrosity – and live to tell the tale?   In this illuminating fable, productivity ex A survival manual for ambitious artists entrepreneurs ADVENTURERS You have a Hydra: a grand, ambitious project you’ve always wanted to tackle. It feels overwhelming, unconquerable. Chop off one of a Hydra’s heads, and two more grow in its place. How will you ever defeat such a terrifying monstrosity – and live to tell the tale?   In this illuminating fable, productivity expert Josh Kaufman explores the uncertainty and fear inherent in facing down any ambitious challenge, from starting a new business to completing a work of art. The risks involved can never be eliminated, but they can be understood, anticipated, and mitigated. Armed with an adventurer's insights into tackling unknown and fearsome challenges, you can tame a project of epic proportions. How to Fight a Hydra is an essential handbook for artists, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs tired of ignoring the call to adventure.  So prepare for battle, brave soul. Draw your sword. Light your torch.  In the darkness ahead, your Hydra awaits.


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A survival manual for ambitious artists entrepreneurs ADVENTURERS You have a Hydra: a grand, ambitious project you’ve always wanted to tackle. It feels overwhelming, unconquerable. Chop off one of a Hydra’s heads, and two more grow in its place. How will you ever defeat such a terrifying monstrosity – and live to tell the tale?   In this illuminating fable, productivity ex A survival manual for ambitious artists entrepreneurs ADVENTURERS You have a Hydra: a grand, ambitious project you’ve always wanted to tackle. It feels overwhelming, unconquerable. Chop off one of a Hydra’s heads, and two more grow in its place. How will you ever defeat such a terrifying monstrosity – and live to tell the tale?   In this illuminating fable, productivity expert Josh Kaufman explores the uncertainty and fear inherent in facing down any ambitious challenge, from starting a new business to completing a work of art. The risks involved can never be eliminated, but they can be understood, anticipated, and mitigated. Armed with an adventurer's insights into tackling unknown and fearsome challenges, you can tame a project of epic proportions. How to Fight a Hydra is an essential handbook for artists, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs tired of ignoring the call to adventure.  So prepare for battle, brave soul. Draw your sword. Light your torch.  In the darkness ahead, your Hydra awaits.

30 review for How to Fight a Hydra: Face Your Fears, Pursue Your Ambitions, and Become the Hero You Are Destined to Be

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paulius

    The real hydras are Josh Kaufman's books. Every time you finish reading one of his books, he tasks you with reading a bunch of other great books. I'm still fighting "Personal MBA" hydra (97 book recommendations), "How to Fight a Hydra" gives another 7. If I read one more book from Josh Kaufman, I'll have to get a bigger apartment just for my books.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Santino Maguire

    A short and sweet book about the adventurer's lifestyle---about facing your fears and accomplishing great things. I read it in about half an hour, and it lands at exactly the right length. Invaluable advice for taking risks and achieving greatness.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Harish Sankar

    Brilliant 30 minute Read! A beautiful metaphor for the complexities we face in real life, and the inner battles that we must win , to make progress! Excellent! Highlighted more than half the book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Angela Magic Art

    What an AMAZING book to complete my reading challenge with! This book is Phenomenal!! I have never in my life, felt more understood. This book just hit Sooooooo close to home for me because I am one of the "Adventurers", Entrepreneurs, and dream chasers this book is modeled after. I have read Josh Kaufman's other book; "The Personal MBA" and really really enjoyed that, I found it so helpful and supportive. So when I got an email that he had a new book out, I jumped on it! This book is a beautifu What an AMAZING book to complete my reading challenge with! This book is Phenomenal!! I have never in my life, felt more understood. This book just hit Sooooooo close to home for me because I am one of the "Adventurers", Entrepreneurs, and dream chasers this book is modeled after. I have read Josh Kaufman's other book; "The Personal MBA" and really really enjoyed that, I found it so helpful and supportive. So when I got an email that he had a new book out, I jumped on it! This book is a beautifully short, but extremely powerful fable about a young man going after his dreams despite what the people close to him say, and despite all the judgement and doubt of others. He goes on an epic fantasy journey to slay a Hydra, and we see through his eyes all the lessons and wisdom he learns and gives to the reader through beautifully written metaphors. This book speaks to your soul, through a high stakes fantasy story. Having all that wisdom and advice wrapped up in a fantasy story was everything I could ever want as a lover of fantasy books, and an avid reader of business and self-help books. I often feel that no one around me really understands my out of the box direction in life, and there were times that I actually teared up a bit, (which never happens to me), because of how much I related to the things that were happening and being talked about. Everyone should read this book!! Even if you aren't strictly an entrepreneur/adventurer type. It's perfect for anyone who has fears in the back of their heads, and feels like they are unsure about what they are doing. All I can say is this book is great, super entertaining, and meaningful. I wish I could have written it. <3

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tony Guerra

    It was such a well written book with divisions that made it easy to pick up and continue. It only took about an hour to read, but I was bookmarking throughout. I felt the lessons came fast and the story was authentic. While it's allegorical fiction, it's so well done that you lose yourself in the story. I highly recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helge Reikerås

    This a great and inspiring story for anyone trying to tackle anything that seems incredible hard or impossible. It's not always a good thing when authors want to read their own books imho, but in the case of Josh his voice is just great and is accompanied by sound effects and a background ambiance that makes this book a must for listening to as an audiobook.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Butler

    A beautifully crafted metaphor for tackling real life projects. I highly recommend this.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Khaled Aloraifi

    A refreshing perspective on journeying through life, it reminds us of the struggles that accompanies journeying.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Venkat

    Interesting Read While reading I felt the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita in some places, in the end author mentioned it. It's a wake up call for those who are afraid of performing their duty, thinking about result even before starting

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I don't understand why this has high ratings on Goodreads. The author successfully made a metaphor, but the writing quality is low. At the end of the 1st grade in elementary school, I wrote a very short book about killing a dragon. I still have it in storage. It's not good. I think if I had rewritten it in middle school, it would be of similar quality with this book. I'm not trying to be mean. I don't think the author is even interested in writing good fiction. He easily could have joined a writ I don't understand why this has high ratings on Goodreads. The author successfully made a metaphor, but the writing quality is low. At the end of the 1st grade in elementary school, I wrote a very short book about killing a dragon. I still have it in storage. It's not good. I think if I had rewritten it in middle school, it would be of similar quality with this book. I'm not trying to be mean. I don't think the author is even interested in writing good fiction. He easily could have joined a writing workshop or asked people for feedback to make it better. For example, at one point the character walks into the cave and comes back, wounded--that's all that was mentioned. Most pages feel like this is a Wikipedia summary version of a story. The author definitely did not fight a hydra to write and publish this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Personal growth is a topic that has been in my mind for a good while now. (Essentially ever since I stepped deeper into full-blown adulthood by turning 30 about year ago and also watching every Queer Eye episode at least ten times.) And naturally books on the subject have turned out to be something of an interest, and I've been keeping an eye out for them. The only problem is that I find most of these types of books — so called "self-help" books — to be mostly insufferable. I'm not very big on ge Personal growth is a topic that has been in my mind for a good while now. (Essentially ever since I stepped deeper into full-blown adulthood by turning 30 about year ago and also watching every Queer Eye episode at least ten times.) And naturally books on the subject have turned out to be something of an interest, and I've been keeping an eye out for them. The only problem is that I find most of these types of books — so called "self-help" books — to be mostly insufferable. I'm not very big on generalizations and black-and-white views of the world as a whole — and less on promises of shortcuts and quick-fixes for the toils and troubles of life — and these are things on which a lot of these books seem to thrive. So, more often than not, I end up thinking of them as tedious and condescending at best; intellectually and emotionally dishonest at worst. I much prefer seeking out books which approach the subject from entirely different angles: diaries and biographies; books about history or science or art. I take what I can from them, and try, as best I can, to apply them to my life. Which is how I stumbled upon Josh Kaufman's How to Fight a Hydra. The premise of How to Fight a Hydra is simple but charming: it's presented as a guidebook written by an ancient adventurer on the topic of slaying hydras. Fun! That the author tells you in the introduction that the hydra is actually a metaphor for intimidating projects you want to tackle in your life is quite besides the point and a little redundant. You can read this straight through as a fantasy tale, not knowing what it actually is, and still glean the lessons the story wishes you to take away from it, as the best fairy tales are wont to do. It's the "spoonful of sugar" method: because who wants to spend time with books about heavy and heady topics like human anxiety when there are stories about monsters out there waiting to be read? It can sound a little gimmicky and childish, to be sure. But what Kaufman has done is simply go back to the beginning. Because this self-help-book-disguised-as-a-fairy-tale is really just doing what fairy tales have been doing since the dawn of stories: it tells us that slaying a hydra is pretty damn hard, and that it's just half the fun. Or, as G.K. Chesterton put it: Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Fairy tales are the best and most enduring kind of self-help books, it turns out. Kaufman seems to get it. I hope other catch on, too.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Short and sweet. I have the Kindle copy but listened to the whole thing on Audible (around 1 hour and 30 minutes) during several commutes in one day. What it's about The core part of the story is the main character's pursuit of the hydra. (The audiobook narrated that part in roughly 1 hour. The sound effects and silences added to the atmosphere of the performance.) The story did a great job in turning the amorphous fear of a big undertaking into something as concrete as hunting a hydra. How it work Short and sweet. I have the Kindle copy but listened to the whole thing on Audible (around 1 hour and 30 minutes) during several commutes in one day. What it's about The core part of the story is the main character's pursuit of the hydra. (The audiobook narrated that part in roughly 1 hour. The sound effects and silences added to the atmosphere of the performance.) The story did a great job in turning the amorphous fear of a big undertaking into something as concrete as hunting a hydra. How it works During crisis and hardship, a list of insights and to-dos in a non-fiction essay is easy to forget. However, because the insights (on facing our fears & pursuing our ambitions) are bundled with a concrete story, it feels almost like lived experience. In our own moments of doubt, we can remember the adventurer's decisions. In our own moments of fear, we can remember the adventurer's determination. The author got insights from behavioral psychology, military doctrine, and other fields to substantiate the adventurer's insights. After my second reading, I realize how deep and effective these insights are. In the Author's Commentary, he explains the sources of these insights. Applying what was learned As I face the big writing project I will undertake during NaNoWriMo, my fears are no longer nameless and limitless. With the image of the hydra, I know that even though there are 9 or more heads, this freaking hydra will eventually run out of them. By changing the metaphor, I can suddenly use strategies and tactics from battle. Rather than acting like a deer staring at the headlights of nameless fear, I can face this daunting task like a warrior facing a hydra for the nth time.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Boni Aditya

    This book stands as a testimonial to Josh kaufman s abilities and illustrates why he remains the best selling author time and again. The work is unique, in that it could be adopted to multiple disciples without any loss of clarity or relevance. Research, innovation, exploration, war, business, entrepreneurship, movie making... Anything could be metaphorically relevant to this context. Having seen the Ted talk given by the author about the first 20 hours as opposed the 10,000 hours required to ge This book stands as a testimonial to Josh kaufman s abilities and illustrates why he remains the best selling author time and again. The work is unique, in that it could be adopted to multiple disciples without any loss of clarity or relevance. Research, innovation, exploration, war, business, entrepreneurship, movie making... Anything could be metaphorically relevant to this context. Having seen the Ted talk given by the author about the first 20 hours as opposed the 10,000 hours required to get a grip of something basic, got me to pick up this book and I wasn't disappointed. The best part of this book is that the author does not give any context, not even at the end of the book. He leaves the interpretation to the context of the reader and his wisdom, making it more relevant to a much wider audience. Here is a list of books mentioned within this book. How to fight a hydra Meditations Marcus arilleus Feel the fear and do it anyway War of art The book of five rings Certain to win The Bhagavat Gita - Steven Mitchell Metaphors we live by The personal MBA The first 20 hours

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alis

    Halfway through the book, I admit that I was skeptical. What the author does is craft an entertaining fantasy story about a man who sets out to slay a multi-headed Hydra (a metaphor for a really big undertaking you may be considering, but hesitant to start). Then he follows up the story with explanations and advice that make much more sense within the context of the fantasy story. The two together make up a relatively interesting read to give you attainable and independent thoughts on how you mig Halfway through the book, I admit that I was skeptical. What the author does is craft an entertaining fantasy story about a man who sets out to slay a multi-headed Hydra (a metaphor for a really big undertaking you may be considering, but hesitant to start). Then he follows up the story with explanations and advice that make much more sense within the context of the fantasy story. The two together make up a relatively interesting read to give you attainable and independent thoughts on how you might face whatever foe lies in the way of your success. sidenote: I really hope the author decides to make an illustrated version. I'd love to share this with kids when they're starting to read. It's never too early (or too late) to start learning How to Fight a Hydra.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gilbert Stack

    This is a self-help book disguised as a fantasy novella. It’s not a gripping or exciting story, but it is interesting as the reader watches our young hero go through the entrepreneurial process in setting out to find and kill the mythical monster. It’s clever, but probably most so in that the author has found a way to bring his self-help philosophy to a whole new audience that probably would never have read a traditional self-help book. If you’ve got a child who likes fantasy, you might slip thi This is a self-help book disguised as a fantasy novella. It’s not a gripping or exciting story, but it is interesting as the reader watches our young hero go through the entrepreneurial process in setting out to find and kill the mythical monster. It’s clever, but probably most so in that the author has found a way to bring his self-help philosophy to a whole new audience that probably would never have read a traditional self-help book. If you’ve got a child who likes fantasy, you might slip this one on to their reader and see if they’ll give it a shot. They might just learn some lessons that help them in the course of their lives.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terrence Cooper

    Oh man, this book is so helpful. The similarities that the man had to go through to become who he wanted to be in the story is just like everyone in life. It’s a process to become the person you want to be or to achieve a goal. You have to not only visualize it but you have to set your self up to make it become a reality. Although there will be some discouraging events that will probably make you think twice about it but you still have to keep pushing no matter what. This book taught me that qui Oh man, this book is so helpful. The similarities that the man had to go through to become who he wanted to be in the story is just like everyone in life. It’s a process to become the person you want to be or to achieve a goal. You have to not only visualize it but you have to set your self up to make it become a reality. Although there will be some discouraging events that will probably make you think twice about it but you still have to keep pushing no matter what. This book taught me that quitting is not an option. You have to come to a conclusion on whether you will die trying to achieve your goals than quit.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maya Gopalakrishnan

    Fighting the hydra! I like Josh Kaufman's writing and approach so was expecting a good read, however two things are slightly disappointing.First the length of the book- it could have easily made a full length book on tackling complex and uncertain tasks. Having said that this book has pearls of wisdom densely packed. Second is I'm not sure if the fiction part is really a great idea as the author thinks though the point about metaphors in well taken. Maybe a second read will resolve some ambivalen Fighting the hydra! I like Josh Kaufman's writing and approach so was expecting a good read, however two things are slightly disappointing.First the length of the book- it could have easily made a full length book on tackling complex and uncertain tasks. Having said that this book has pearls of wisdom densely packed. Second is I'm not sure if the fiction part is really a great idea as the author thinks though the point about metaphors in well taken. Maybe a second read will resolve some ambivalence. Recommended.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christian Jespersen

    Imagine if your science teachers could teach you about gravity, magnetism and sound waves, never mention typical sciance words. I am sure, you would enjoy the classes more and learn more. And that is exactly what Josh Kaufman does with his latest book. He takes something abstract as pursuing a great goal and turn I to some I can see raki g place in my mind. The book is very quick to read, but leaves your mind in a mode of wanting to continue your pursuit and quit leave your thoughts of surrender.

  19. 5 out of 5

    justin

    An excellent quick read, and applicable no matter where you are This book is short, sweet, and to the point. What stands out to me is that it’s not afraid to broach the subject of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. We see the. If success stories all around but we don’t see the turmoil required for them. Instead we bemoan our own state of affairs, wishing for something easier. This is a book I plan on reading at least once a year to help keep perspective.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen L. Wolfenden

    Great metaphor on many levels Overall a great metaphor for the adventures of life and business! Also enjoyed the discussions of Lakoff's book...he and the book were the bases for one of my most fascinating Berkeley courses. Language is nicely crafted, lofty without being overdone. Thank you!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tony Cavicchi

    This is a inspiring, beautiful, little book. Josh Kaufman brings you along to know it's always difficult, always ambiguous, always unsettling, etc. when you set out to conquer a monster of a project. His hero encourages us all to jump past imposter's syndrome, adapt, keep at it, and enjoy the journey when we can. Nothing worth having comes without a challenge.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Not bad for a self-help/self-improvement book. Were I not so fed-up by various 'essential' life advice most of how-to/productivity/bussiness lit offer at every convenient (and inconvenient) opportunity, I might have enjoyed it more. If it's your first foray in the productivity lit, I am sure you'll enjoy it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Azret

    Succinct and Engaging Read on Facing Challenges This book came up on my Amazon recommendations several times and I gave it a shot. It’s about an hours read and filled wisdom compiled from books such as The War of Art and Meditations. When you’re afraid of whether or not to start something, just start because fortune cannot come to those who haven’t tried.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Justin Weiss

    I was unsure about the use of metaphor through the entire book, but it worked incredibly well for conveying _exactly_ what it feels like to accomplish something great, independently. The journey is realistic, and the advice is some of the best. Highly recommended if you’re starting a creative journey of your own, or want to remember what it felt like.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Derek Harris

    Great Business Fable This was a short read but packed with a lot of sound principles. I enjoy business fables as a form to drive the point home. I would definitely recommend this to others.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tamzen

    4.5 rounded up. An inspirational read that you can do in one sitting. I was really expecting more of a self-help or advice book, but it is actually written like a fairy tale journal with subtle advice throughout, and some advice/tips at the end. Glad to have read it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Martin

    Original and enjoyable This was original. A very short and easy read, but one worth perusing again and contemplating. Kaufman is right: metaphor is powerful and helpful in addressing challenges in life and work. Bravo!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tyrone V. Miller

    A quick boost of motivation!! This tiny book packs a big powerful punch that would surely knock the biggest of hydra on its (their?) butt. A must read for anyone struggling to take that big plunge.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    I wanted to highlight everything This was just the type of book I was looking for as I try to start the business I’ve had in the back of my mind for years. Good wisdom for life in general.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eperdu

    Life as a hydra I enjoyed reading this and felt it was a very apt way to look at the problems we face. It was a fast read but full of meaning. The bibliography was also an excellent reading list.

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