Summary of the book “You Can Win”, Shiv Khera

You can win is a 1998 self-help book by an author of Indian origin based in the U.S., Shiv Khera. Sized a little over three hundred pages, the book was an international bestseller and has sold over 3.5 million copies globally. This book takes you through a journey of self-construction, all the while suggesting to you the instruments required to do so. Shiv Khera is himself a successful entrepreneur, a social worker, and a much sought-after motivational speaker. On the cover page, the book says, Winners don’t do different things. They do things differently”, by which he means that it is not only knowledge that will help you succeed, it is rather your behaviour that will do the trick. Though written over twenty years ago, the book remains a useful and practical guide to success, to date.

The target audiences of this book are common people, throughout the world, facing similar predicaments and who are struggling to make things work for themselves in the right direction. The book covers topics like attitude, success, motivation, self-esteem, interpersonal skills, subconscious mind, habits, goal setting, values and vision over eight chapters. He says that the goals of a person must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) and that our attitude is determined by three Es viz Environment, Experience, and Education.

The book does not delve much into the emotive dimensions of happiness and satisfaction but rather addresses very practical problems suggesting solutions that can be immediately put into place. For example, on page 31 he says, “Whenever people succeed in life, petty people will take cracks at them and try to pull them down… order to fight petty people you have to come to their level.”

He does not quote psychological literature to make his point but rather borrows from his 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and imports short real-life and fictional stories to motivate and inspire the reader. My favourite story in the book goes as follows:

“A young man asked Socrates the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met and Socrates asked the young man to walk with him toward the river. When the water got up to their necks, Socrates took the young man by surprise and pushed him under the water. The boy struggled to get out but Socrates kept him there. When the boy started turning blue, Socrates raised the boy’s head out of the water. The first thing the boy did was to take a deep breath of air. Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were underwater?’ The boy replied, ‘Air.’ Socrates said, ‘That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted air underwater, you will have it.’ There is no other secret.”

This book is based on the premise that a large number of people do not succeed in the realisation of their goals, singularly because of one reason: the inability to gauge their strengths and weaknesses and utilizing them both for attaining their goals. Some even don’t know what their goal is.

My favourite lines from the book:


  1. Under Adverse conditions – some people break down, some break records.”
  2. “Winners see the gain; losers see the pain.”
  3.  “Oh, how a small portion of earth will hold us when we are dead, who ambitiously seek after the whole world while we are living!
  4.  “Purpose: A lifetime goal is called a purpose. To identify your purpose, ask yourself ‘If my age was a hundred today and I looked back at my life, what is it that I want to say is my accomplishment?’ The answer is your purpose.”
  5.  “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you will be doomed if you don’t try.”
  6. “Our thoughts are causes. You sow a thought, you reap an action. You sow an action, you reap a habit. You sow a habit, you reap a character. You sow a character, you reap a destiny. It all starts with a thought.”
  7.  “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
  8. “Remember, a person’s character is not only judged by the company he or she keeps but also by the company he or she avoids.”
  9. “Progressive means that success is a journey, not a destination. It’s an ongoing process. We never arrive.”
  10. “A crash course for success
·         Play to win and not to lose.
·         Learn from other people’s mistakes.
·         Associate with people of high moral character.
·         Give more than you get.
·         Don’t look for something for nothing.
·         Always think long term.
·         Evaluate your strengths and build on them.
·         Always keep the larger picture in mind when making a decision.
·         Never compromise your integrity.”
So, if you think any of the ideas given in this book are the ones that you lack in your daily life, or if you are facing a similar predicament, go grab hold of the book and make it your personal guide.
Sourav Kumar Sharma

About the author

Sourav Kumar Sharma

Hey there! I'm a PhD scholar by day and an author by the night. This website is my mind spill. I live in Chandigarh, India and I like to read and travel, big time. In my writings, I like to mix romance with genres like travel, self-help, social issues, and life-writing.

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