Akbar Gbajabiamila, cohost of American Ninja Warrior, has recently released his first book; Everyone Can Be a Ninja: Find Your Inner Warrior And Achieve Your Dreams.
Everyone can be a ninja reads much like a cross between Akbar’s memoirs and motivational literature. It is chock-full of stories from Akbar’s own life, complete with his own commentary and inspirational take. He uses these stories to express his own beliefs on how the world works, and what is required of each of us to be happy and successful.
As outlined in the book’s prologue, titled ‘Time To Begin’, Akbar goes chronologically through his life, bar a few moments here and there when he skips around to make a point. It begins with his childhood being raised in the dangerous area of South LA. We’re taken through his high school and college years where he competes on the basketball court and is introduced to football. We then learn more about his time in the NFL than you’d ever know just by being a Raiders fan. Akbar tells us about the struggles he faced when he tried to transition into broadcasting. All of this culminates in his becoming the cohost to Matt Iseman on American Ninja Warrior.
Throughout the book are littered stories of famous ninjas who have competed on the show, as well as those who have motivated and inspired Akbar throughout his life. He tells of many mentors he’s had in various aspects of his life, and expresses his belief that these people played an instrumental part in his own success.
The Technical Stuff
Everyone Can Be a Ninja has roughly a 61,000 word-count (estimated by www.readinglength.com). In the hardcover copy of the book, this is spread over 262 pages. As should probably be expected from a TV show host turned author, the vocabulary isn’t overly complicated. This certainly isn’t to say that there isn’t a high degree of intelligence and wisdom in Akbar’s writing.
The book is broken down into a prologue and 10 chapters. It also includes Akbar’s dedications at the beginning, as well as his acknowledgments, and an about the author page at the end.
For someone who reads at the average speed of 250 words per minute, the book takes just over 4 hours to complete. For those like myself whose minds wander easily and struggle to focus, it may take a bit longer. It took me maybe 6-8 hours.
I rarely get captivated to the point in any motivational book where I can’t seem to put it down. But I will say that this book was an exceptionally easy read. The method of story telling laced with information and advice kept me entertained as I progressed through the book.
Perhaps what kept me the most interested was the opportunity to learn a little more about Akbar himself. For many years now, I’ve been a huge fan of American Ninja. When I heard that the most excitable man on television had written a book, I knew immediately I would give it a read.
Even more so than Akbar being a big name in the ninja world, what made this book interesting to me is the fact that prior to the release of his book, Akbar was a nobody in the book writing, psychologist, motivational speaker world. As someone who’s read a handful of books by professionals in the aforementioned fields, it’s refreshing to read the advice of someone who has found success elsewhere. It also serves as a powerful reminder that nearly all those who find a high level of success, whether it be in athletics, academics, or anything in between (TV show hosting for example) have something to offer those still chasing success themselves.
My Takeaways After Reading The Book
Everyone Can Be A Ninja is riddled with Akbar’s recipe for success. It discusses personal sacrifice, faith in a power greater than one’s self, and overcoming fear. Without giving away too much of the book, here’s some of the advice that resonated with me the most:
Chapter 1: ‘Make Them Say Your Name’
Aside from the powerful title, this chapter makes a strong point. Akbar explains that as a child, he resented his name partially because no one could ever pronounce it properly. His father told him to make people say the name. Taken metaphorically, it seems to be a reoccurring theme of the 21st century to take pride in the things that make you who you are. What’s more, making others acknowledge your presence is a fundamental but important first step to success.
Chapter 2: ‘Reject Your Circumstances’
This was one of my favorite chapters in the book. In this chapter you get the first real sense of the type of environment Akbar grew up in. His is one of thousands of stories of someone growing up in less than ideal circumstances, and still finding massive success.
On the opposite side of this, plenty are born into wealthy, well educated families, and wind up poor and with addiction problems. He also acknowledges that his parents, both of whom immigrated from Nigeria, had it far worse than he did growing up. The lesson? Where you end up has far less to do with the cards you are dealt and far more to do with how you play the hand.
Chapter 6: ‘Sit In Your Failure’
The ability for one to learn from their failures is neccessary in achieving success. Akbar explains that watering down failure, brushing it off as not that big a deal, lessens the pain at the price of improvement. The pain of failure, as well as the sting of criticism exist to prevent us from repeatedly making the same mistakes. Akbar never minded being yelled at for his mistakes on the field because he knew it meant the coaches believed he was capable of giving more. It wasn’t until they stopped getting mad at his mistakes that he became truly worried.
‘Everyone Can Be A Ninja: Find Your Inner Warrior And Achieve Your Dreams‘ is motivational and captivating. It’s an easy read with loads of value to anybody still hunting for their own success.
It gives fan’s of American Ninja Warrior an exclusive look into the mind and memories of cohost Akbar Gbajabiamila, and the inspiring lessons he’s learned throughout his life.This book is meant to awaken the best parts of all who read it.