Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits Summary
What you probably don’t know is that Emmanuel defines his own life with just one word: Illogical.
You may know Emmanuel Acho as the host of groundbreaking video series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” Or as a New York Times bestselling author. Or as an Emmy-winning television broadcaster. Or as a former linebacker for two NFL franchises.
Behind every triumph, every expression of his gifts, Acho has had to ignore what everyone around him called “logic”: the astronomical odds against making it, the risks of continuing to dream bigger or differently. Instead of playing it safe, at every turn Acho has thrown conventional wisdom―logic―out the window. Now, in this revelatory book, he’s empowering us all to do the same.
Whether it’s creating the next groundbreaking startup, fighting for change as an activist, or committing to a personal passion, Illogical is the go-to book for all readers ready to become change-makers. With a step-by-step guide to finding our callings and shifting our mindsets, enlivened by stories from Acho’s life and other illogical pioneers, Acho asks us to replace the limits set for us, and which we set for ourselves, with a world of possibility. Our horizons, he shows us, are endless.
About the Author
Emmanuel Acho grew up in Dallas with his three siblings, the son of Nigerian immigrant parents. In 2012 he was drafted into the NFL by the Cleveland Browns, and later played with the Philadelphia Eagles, while earning a master’s degree in sports psychology at the University of Texas in the off-seasons. In 2016 he left the NFL for ESPN, where he served as the youngest national football analyst, and was named a 2018 Forbes Under 30 Selection. He is now a Fox Sports analyst and the creator of the ongoing online video series “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits Introduction
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Before the Cards Are Flipped
It was the middle of the summer and “The Kid” was sitting in the back room of the Sugar House with more than $20,000 on the table. “The cards are the cards,” he said, cracking a smile. I was nervous. I couldn’t stop tapping my measly twenty-five-dollar chip on the wooden frame of the table. The Kid seemed unfazed. He doubled down on his bet, leaned back in his chair, and allowed himself to relax. He had it all under control.
While in the NFL, I frequented casinos more often than I’d care to admit; everybody has their thing. For me, the friends I made at the different gambling tables filled the void left by having no family near me during my playing career. That along with the excitement of winning a game of chance. The joy of victory and the agony of defeat could seemingly both be experienced in a matter of minutes.
Complete strangers sharing hugs and embraces (pre-COVID, of course) after a big win, or collective sighs of frustration after the loss of a hand. High risk, high reward. It was invigorating. I made many memories during those visits, but the most unforgettable of them all came the day I took a trip to play blackjack with The Kid.
The game of blackjack is simple. For those of you who have never seen the movie 21, I’ll explain. You are dealt two cards and left with one decision. Ask for more or stick with what you’ve got. The object of the game is for your total card value to be at or as close to twenty-one as possible. You’re competing against the dealer, so whoever is closer to twenty-one wins.
Aces are worth one or eleven, face cards ten, and number cards are worth the number shown on the cards, two through ten. You take the cards you’re dealt. You can’t change them. But you can ask for more. You can take a risk to try and get closer to a win. The only issue with this risk is that it comes with a clause, the chance that you could bust. Busting is when the value of your cards rises above twenty-one. When that happens, you lose, the dealer wins, and you’re out of the game. High risk, high reward.
In the back room at the Sugar House, The Kid decided to double down, meaning that his $20,000 bet would yield him an additional $20,000. He had $40,000 at stake; enough money to make a down payment on a small Philadelphia townhouse. It also meant that he was choosing to take a major risk to accept one card, and one card only, from the dealer.
I was familiar with the idea of doubling down, but not with the cards that The Kid was showing. His hand showed two fours, a total value of eight. The dealer had two cards as well. His top card was an eight and his bottom card was facedown. Advantage, dealer. Or so I thought. No matter what, The Kid wasn’t getting to twenty-one. I already told y’all the value of every card, and there is no card valued at thirteen in the game. But for whatever reason, he still made the decision. He liked his odds.
While in the NFL, I took a sports analytics class as part of my graduate degree. My professor was from Philly, a Temple University alum who was familiar with the Sugar House. For my final project, I chose to focus on odds and the game of blackjack. After all, you pursue an education to learn, but also to increase your chances of making money, right? I spent roughly one hundred hours studying the odds of nearly every potential hand in blackjack. Talk about real-life application.
Based on my formal education, The Kid’s odds were slim. I knew that, the dealer knew that, everyone at the table knew that. But The Kid chose not to believe it. He leaned back, cracked a smirk, and looked at me as he said, “The cards are the cards,” assuring the dealer that he was confident in his decision.
The dealer pulled a final card out of the deck and slid it to The Kid. “Facedown!” my teammate urged, hoping to build up the suspense of the moment. The dealer slid the unknown card beneath the two fours. The cards were indeed the cards, and nothing at this point could change the result: $40,000 was on the line. I was as nervous as if it were my money, but The Kid seemed unfazed.
Imagine the confidence you’d need to keep cool during something like this. If The Kid was sweating, no one noticed. Everything in his demeanor oozed swagger. No stress, no anxiety, no doubt. He trusted his gut and wasn’t afraid. As I studied his cool demeanor, I realized that the most stressful times in our lives often occur before the cards are even flipped.
We’ve calculated our odds and it feels like we have no chance. We worry, we fret, we panic. We don’t know what’s coming next, so we break. We abort. We run away before the game plays out. But that night at the casino, I learned that life doesn’t have to be so logical. Even in the face of stacked odds, you can own the moment. You can be confident even when you don’t know what comes next, or when you fear the worst comes next because of what logic tells you. You can take risks and trust that it’s going to be okay.
I recently spoke with a friend who was going through a major transition. In many ways, he was waiting for his cards to be flipped. He was scared, confused, even a bit intimidated by the unknown that awaited him as he approached a new life stage. He was changing jobs and didn’t know what the future held. I reminded him about a truth that I had learned that day at the casino: when uncertainty hits, go with it.
You have an opportunity, in whatever you do, to create. To be different. To not be concerned about the calculations or the odds. To be illogical enough to believe that you can do something that’s never been done.
The dealer flipped the other house card over. It was a ten of hearts. The Kid’s hope was all but lost. The dealer now had a value of eighteen to The Kid’s eight. And while The Kid still had his own card to turn over, only one would give him victory.
Four cards would yield a draw and the final seven cards would net a loss of the average annual salary in America. To put it plainly, there was roughly a 7 percent chance that The Kid would win, a 31 percent chance The Kid would tie, and a 62 percent chance that The Kid’s pockets would be a lot lighter. I gently placed my hand on The Kid’s shoulder, preparing to comfort him for what would surely be a significant loss.
The Kid looked up at the dealer and signaled him permission to flip the final card. The room was silent, each person on the edge of their seat. The dealer flipped The Kid’s card over, slowly but with intent. It was the moment of truth. The last play of the game. A final opportunity. I braced myself.
The card hit the table, followed shortly by my jaw. The crowd erupted. The Kid had done it. He’d drawn the one card he’d needed to win, an ace, giving him a total value of nineteen. Strangers reached across the table high-fiving each other. I was screaming in excitement and people were hugging me as if I had been the one to win. The Kid, however, ignored all the gestures around him. He just looked at me, nodded his head ever so slightly, and gave me a wink.
We collected our chips and headed to the cashier. The Kid could hardly hold on to each of the five-thousand-dollar pieces of plastic. As I waited in line for him to cash out, I gently mumbled a question that I couldn’t shake: “You know you only had a seven percent chance to win the hand, right?”
He paused briefly, still dismayed at my lack of belief. He then sighed and responded, “Acho … sometimes you’re too smart for your own good.”
While life is no game of blackjack, we all have a choice to make. Will we take a chance on our dreams regardless of their supposed success rate? Will we show up to the table? Will we go for it all and live the life we deserve, or will we let logic deter us from our greatness?
In my darkest days after being let go from the Philadelphia Eagles, I almost let logic swallow me. I loved football. I’d worked hard at it. Everyone around me told me that playing in the NFL was the opportunity of a lifetime—was my opportunity of a lifetime. It was hard to stop pursuing the dream that I felt I was best suited for, but that door was slammed in my face. I was forced to find another way forward, the alternative being to continue expending my energy ramming into the door simply because it was what I was supposed to do.
So I turned away from the door. I believed in my heart of hearts that there was something more for me. More to my story, like there is more to yours. I just needed to be brave enough to create it. To believe that when the card was flipped, I would still be okay.
I always knew I wanted to communicate. I love helping people see the best in themselves and bringing out the best in me as well. I wanted to refine my skills as a speaker, so after each day of training, I went home, took a shower, and began the task of calling everyone I knew to see what opportunities were out there. A few months later, I found myself on the set of the Longhorn Network, a college football TV station that covered any and all things related to the University of Texas, my alma mater.
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Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits PDF
|Posted on||March 22, 2022|
|Page Count||256 pages|
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What you probably don’t know is that Emmanuel defines his own life with just one word: Illogical.
Author: Emmanuel Acho