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Summary: Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits by Emmanuel Acho

Key Takeaways

  • Do you want to live a life without limits? Do you want to discover your true calling and pursue it with passion? Do you want to learn from the stories of people who have defied the odds and achieved greatness? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to read Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits by Emmanuel Acho.
  • Illogical is a book that will change your perspective and transform your life. It will challenge you to break free from the boundaries of logic and embrace a life of infinite possibility. It will inspire you to say yes to your dreams and no to your fears. It will equip you with practical steps and biblical principles to help you find and fulfill your purpose. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the most illogical and influential voices of our time.

Illogical (2022) is the story of how Emmanuel Acho, former pro football player turned media star, decided to take the illogical path to fulfill his potential and his dreams. Instead of following society’s rules, expectations, and constraints, he decided to break all of them –⁠ and in doing so, he became what he is today. And guess what? You can do the same.

Introduction: Find out how to achieve your wildest dreams like a (football) pro.

Emmanuel Acho suits up for a regular-season NFL game despite a pain in his thumb. At first, everything is going fine. But then, three plays into the game, he hears a pop.

Instantly, Acho realizes that he’s broken his thumb –⁠ and with that, his dreams of continuing as a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles are broken too.

Later, the doctor confirms his worst fear, the thumb will take over four months to heal. He receives a call from the Eagles’ general manager after communicating the bad news and is subsequently released from the squad.

Acho realized at that moment that he had a decision to make. He could wait until his thumb healed, continue training, and hope for a call from a team. That was the logical path. And then there was the illogical path. He could pour all of his energy into something completely different, something he’d no experience in at all, and change career path entirely.

You can probably guess which choice Acho made. He chose the illogical route, deciding to pursue a career in media. In this summary we’re going to explore what made Acho turn away from the field he knew and was skilled in, to go down such a risky path. This summary is, in the words of Acho, about embracing chance instead of always wondering, What if?

Today, we’re going to bulldoze through limitation and see what lies on the other side.

[Book Summary] Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits

In this summary you’ll learn

  • why you should adopt the attitude of a professional gambler;
  • how to be like David; and
  • why you should always pick up the phone.

Taking an illogical path allowed Acho to pursue a new and unexpected career.

When Acho injured his thumb, it was as if the fears he’d harbored all his life were coming true. The success he’d fought tooth and nail to achieve was now at great risk of becoming undone. Acho stole traffic cones from a parking lot in Philadelphia and used them to do drills in the alley behind his apartment. He found empty fields to train in by himself.

As you’ve already learned, it was at this point Acho realized he needed to make a choice between a logical and an illogical path. But what exactly is logic, as he defines it?

For Acho, logic is conventional wisdom. And conventional wisdom is any principles or procedures that the majority of society agrees are sensible.

But how sensible are they really? Take, for instance, beauty standards throughout history. For hundreds of years, women have faced societal pressure to conform to constantly-changing ideas about what’s considered attractive. During the Italian Renaissance, for example, a beautiful woman was one with pale skin, full hips, a full chest, a rounded body, and a high forehead. Think Mona Lisa. Today, on the other hand, these things are all strikes against you.

“Conventional wisdom” doesn’t stand the test of time, nor do its standards seem to make much sense. And yet we allow these definitions of beauty –⁠ and many other things –⁠ to run our lives. We’re constantly longing for things that somebody else has decided we should value.

And that’s where illogical comes into play. Acting in a way that is illogical according to conventional standards, can often mean living a life that actually makes far more sense for you. In other words, it’s about not letting your value, your success, or your greatness be determined by other people.

When Acho made this decision to be illogical, he decided to believe there was something more to him than everyone around him ⁠ever expected. He needed to break his old patterns and find new ones. For him, the logical path would be to stick with football –⁠ this is what everyone expected him to do. The illogical path was pursuing a career in media, a career he’d never imagined was possible for someone like him, a career he had zero experience or background in.

Two years after Acho had been released from the Eagles, he rejoined them to celebrate the Super Bowl. But not as a player – this time he joined⁠ as a television analyst. Then, in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, Acho received a call from the Eagles’ general manager. He knew Acho had been using his platform to speak out against racism, and the manager wanted his advice on a statement the team could release.

The path to this point was, by no means, straightforward. Everyone around Acho felt that playing in the NFL was the opportunity of his lifetime. And giving up on that belief was hard. In order to move on, he had to start thinking and acting against other people’s logic.

In order to succeed, engage with your childlike faith.

A gambler known as “The Kid” is sitting at a table in the back room of a casino in Philadelphia. He has more than $20,000 on the table, but he’s, somehow, unfazed. There’s one card left to flip over. The Kid has two fours in hand, totaling eight. The dealer has a ten and an eight, making 18. The point of blackjack is for your total card value to be at 21, or for you to be closer to 21 than the dealer. The Kid has one last chance, one final card, to beat the dealer.

The odds are deeply stacked against him. Only one card in the game –⁠ an ace –⁠ can win him the game. That gives him a 62 percent chance of losing, a 31 percent chance of tying, and a 7 percent chance of winning. But he doubles down anyway, meaning that his $20,000 bet will earn him $40,000 in total if he wins. And when his final card is flipped over, it is –⁠ you guessed it –⁠ an ace. The room goes wild.

Of course, the odds weren’t in The Kid’s favor. He didn’t care. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and start gambling $20,000 like it’s nothing. But you can learn a lesson from The Kid’s attitude. Even when the odds are stacked against you, you can still own the moment and be confident.

Will you take a chance on your dreams despite their supposed success rate? Will you ignore the odds and just go for it? Or will you let logic dictate your every move?

You’ll never really be ready to start being illogical. But in a way, that means you’re already ready. Now is the time.

The most important aspect of preparedness is simply our own minds. Each of us has the power to believe, to think for ourselves, to form new opinions about our futures. So what’s next for you?

Decide what you’re willing to be illogical about. Unearth the stuff that’s buried deep down within you that you feel is worth believing in and dedicating yourself to no matter what. At this very moment, know that you don’t need to be smarter, more qualified, or more anything in order to follow your calling.

Engage with the childlike –⁠ or, perhaps, “Kid-like” – faith that you will succeed.

Rise above your own fears and those of others: be David.

Another story to highlight the power of thinking illogically, is the story of David and Goliath. It goes like this: According to the bible there were two nations at war, the Israelites and the Philistines. Goliath was a champion fighter for the Philistines, over 9 feet high, he was a confident giant, so confident in his power and ability, in fact, that he challenged the Israelites to a one-on-one battle; if anyone could defeat him, the Philistines would promise to serve the Israelites, but if they should lose, the Israelites would serve the Philistines instead. There was only one problem: the Israelites were all too scared to take on the giant Goliath. That is, except for one person –⁠ a young shepherd called David, who was barely a man.

David ended up going to battle by accident. His father had asked him to check on his brothers and bring them food. But when David made it to the front line, he heard Goliath taunting the Israelites, wondering which of them would be brave enough to face him. Even though he was a shepherd by trade, David was a warrior at heart.

David decided, then and there, to run straight at the battle line between him and Goliath. He put his hand in his bag, pulled out a stone and slingshot and hit Goliath directly on the forehead. Ultimately, David won the battle and defeated Goliath.

It may seem like a simple lesson, but it’s also a powerful one. Instead of backing away from the nine-foot bully and absorbing the fear that everyone else around him felt, David chose to act upon his own – perhaps illogical – belief. A belief that he could succeed. In a similar way, we can either let the fears of the people around us dominate our behavior –⁠ or we can push past the doubt and insecurity of others and act according to our own instinct.

Acho, had his own “David moment,” after the tragic murder of George Floyd in 2020. He felt he had to speak out. Yet for years, Acho and many others had been warned not to talk about racism in the public eye. There was seemingly never a good moment. Until, one day, Acho decided it was time to ignore the fears of other people and pilot an idea he had for a YouTube show: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. There were many people who told Acho that he wasn’t the right guy to start these conversations. But the racism and police violence that he and others were experiencing was too brutal to ignore. He didn’t care anymore whether he lost his audience on social media, whether he was the right person or not, he just needed to speak up. To run at his own battle line and to act according to his own belief.

So, If you feel afraid to approach your own battles with similar urgency, take some time to reflect on the following questions: What battles have you won already? What tools are you skilled at using? If your voice is loud and your personality is bold, use that to your advantage. If you’re calm and softly-spoken, ask yourself how you can find your own way to success through quiet strength and perseverance. In Acho’s fight against systemic racism, he never attended a single protest or held up a single sign. Instead, he used his show to express himself. Again, it’s not about taking the logical path, it’s about finding your own way to fight your own battles. Doubt your doubters, doubt your own doubts –⁠ and begin by taking action.

Achieve more by not setting goals.

Acho had two goals in his senior year of high school. One was to become homecoming king and the other was to win Athlete of the Year. He thought he was a shoo-in for both.

But, when homecoming nominations came around, he found out that he hadn’t even made the list. Why? Because his older brother had won homecoming king the year before and the school didn’t want to create an “Acho dynasty.”

Luckily, he still had a chance to win Athlete of the Year. The night of the awards ceremony, his entire family were present; they were dressed to the nines, beaming at him from the front row. Then the presenter began: “The winner for Athlete of the Year is . . . Ben Grisz.”

Acho was dumbstruck. Perhaps the presenter had misspelled or misspoken his name. How could someone else have possibly beat him to Athlete of the Year? This was his award, the goal he’d been working so hard to achieve.

Normally, Acho isn’t much of a crier. But this time, the despair was too strong. He wept uncontrollably, he felt as if the award had been ripped directly from his hands. Despite the sorrow of the experience, Acho learned an important lesson –⁠ that the easiest way to fail in life is to set a goal.

Now, you’re probably shaking your head at this idea already. Sure, what happened to Acho sucked –⁠ but that doesn’t mean goals are bad?

And certainly, society –⁠ and millions of other self-help books out there –⁠ will tell you that setting goals is the only way to get things done or to achieve what you want in life. But think about it another way. Setting a goal can end up creating a ceiling for your achievements –⁠ in other words, it can prevent you from dreaming higher or dreaming differently. Say you set a goal and achieve it. That’s great –⁠ but what if you could have done even more?

When you set your mind to a goal, your brain will do everything in its power to achieve it. But it will only work toward that single, blinkered goal. For example, you may have heard of the famous athlete, Roger Bannister. Prior to 1954, scientists didn’t believe it was physically possible for human beings to run a mile in under four minutes. But Roger Bannister believed that he could –⁠ and – he was right. But what if he could have run even faster? What if four minutes was just an arbitrary cutoff or an unnecessary limitation?

The other thing about goals is that not achieving them can be incredibly damaging to your self worth. If you let a goal become your sole focus in life, then not reaching that goal can lead you to question your whole self, even your existence.

So, if you’re not setting goals, what’s the alternative?

An objective with no limitations.

Now, you may think an objective sounds a lot like a goal, but it’s actually quite different. According to Merriam-Webster, an objective is “something toward which effort is directed.” You’re seeking for something, of course, but you’re not seeking for a specific, defined ending like you are with a goal.

When you’re chasing your dreams, direct your energy toward achieving an infinite number of outcomes. Think about how much of an impact you can make on the world. When Acho first got into media, people asked him if he wanted to be the next Michael Strahan. But he immediately said “No.” Michael Strahan achieved a lot, but if Acho only set his sights on being like Michael, that’s as far as he could go. He could never have become what he is now or created the things he ended up creating.

Learn when – and when not – to use your earmuffs.

Acho was attending a rap concert where his friend, Tobe, was performing. The concert was being held at what had been dubbed an “intimate” venue in New York City. And as Acho pretty quickly discovered, mixing “intimate” and “rap music” is a pretty bad idea.

An hour into the show, Acho’s head was starting to ache to the beat. He had to get out of there. But as he was jostling toward the exit, he noticed a mother holding a sleeping child. She was swaying to the music and screaming the lyrics to all the songs –⁠ all while her child slept quietly on her chest. Acho wondered: How can the kid possibly sleep through all this noise?

As he got closer to the two of them, he realized their secret: the child was wearing a pair of large wooly earmuffs covered-up by a sweep of hair. Thanks to them, the child could sleep through one of the loudest concerts Acho had ever attended.

And so, what’s the lesson in this story when it comes to your career? Simple: don’t forget your earmuffs.

Of course, we’re not talking about what gear you should bring with you to the next rap concert you attend. Instead, it’s about finding your way through all the noise in the world. When you’re doing something that’s going to make a big impact, you’re bound to hear lots of skeptical criticism, hesitancy, people trying to hold you back.

Acho is no stranger to this. Back in 2020, he was getting ready to record the first ever episode of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. The day of the shoot, he was nervous –⁠ and then, four minutes before he was set to record, his phone went off. It was a text from a Black friend and colleague at ESPN who he’d told about his idea a few days prior. She’d been hesitant about the show and was texting him, on the day of its launch, casting doubt on the project and telling him to hold-off.

On the inside, Acho began spiraling into a whirlwind of doubt. But he had to make a choice: he could either listen to her doubts and call off the show, or he put his earmuffs on. In this instance, Acho chose the earmuffs and went ahead with the recording. Ultimately, that first video resulted in 80 million views across social media platforms and paved the way to a number-one New York Times best-selling book.

Whenever you’re on the verge of doing something truly great, there are going to be people around you, whispering in your ears, trying to drown out your own internal voice. That’s when you need to make sure you’ve got your earmuffs at the ready. Acknowledge that the criticism exists, but don’t let it overwhelm you or change your course.

Keep your opportunities open by breaking the pattern.

In this case, Acho decided to pop on his headphones, ignore the skeptical text, and go ahead with the show.

Five days after the first episode of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man was released, he was eating Cheerios and scrolling through Twitter. When his phone rang –⁠ with a no-caller ID. Early on his NFL career Acho had developed a pattern of ignoring calls like these, they usually brought the bad news that players had been cut from the team.

And so immediately Acho feared the worst, a sense of dread and foreboding flooded over him. His whole body protested against him answering that call –⁠ but despite the tension, he felt he needed to answer it.

To Acho’s surprise, the voice on the other end of the line called out chirpily: “McConaughey speaking.” Acho sat there still, thinking to himself: “McConaughey? Like Matthew McConaughey?” And to his even greater surprise, the voice did turn out to be ‘The Matthew McConaughey’, award-winning American actor. Fortunately, Acho was able to play it cool. McConaughey told Acho that he had watched the first episode of Uncomfortable Conversations and wanted to have a conversation with Acho as part of the next episode.

They spent an hour on the phone through their ideas. And the very next day, Matthew McConaughey sat down with Acho for episode two of Uncomfortable Conversations.

Now, think about the opportunity that would’ve been lost if Acho had decided not to pick up the phone. He’d established a pattern early in his career –⁠ one that told him never to pick up unidentified phone calls. And this pattern, this fear, almost triggered him to screen the call.

Fortunately, he kept himself open to the possibility that things can always be different. This time could be his chance.

And we can all act in similar faith. Building the confidence to believe, this moment is going to be different from the rest. Believe in yourself and your truth, and in doing so, you open yourself up to the opportunity for greatness. As always, this is about thinking and acting illogically.


Emmanuel Acho decided to set out on an illogical path –⁠ a path that defied conventional wisdom –⁠ when he decided to pursue a career in media through his YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Being illogical is all about going against what people expect you to do and not letting your value be determined by someone else’s arbitrary standards. When you’re fighting to live your truth by taking the illogical path, charge straight at the battle line, don’t listen to the people who doubt you, set objectives instead of goals, and consciously break free from your old patterns.

And here’s some actionable advice: Seize your “it.”

When Acho was a kid in school, he spent a lot of time in detention. He challenged his teachers and his peers often, he believed there were better ways to think and learn and he was not afraid of saying so. For much of his adult life, Acho thought that playing football was his “it” –⁠ his unique gift, the thing that he was inherently good at. But in fact, his “it” was talking. In order to discover what your “it” really is, it’s helpful to take some real time reflecting. Write down the answers to these questions: What were you naturally skilled at when you were growing up? What did you gravitate toward? Once you’ve taken the time to find whatever your “it” is, dedicate yourself to developing this skill constantly. Invest in it with your time, money, and resources –⁠ no matter how costly it may seem at the time – the payoff will be life changing.

About the author

Emmanuel Acho picked up a football and made it to the NFL. He picked up a pen and became a New York Times bestselling author for Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, followed by the #1 bestseller Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy. He picked up a microphone and won a Primetime Emmy for his groundbreaking online series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, amassing more than 90 million views to date. All this by the age of thirty, because of his ability to think and act illogically.


Motivation and Inspiration, Personal Development, Christian Living, Personal Finance, Success Self-Help, Career Success, Personal Success, Psychology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Pins or Screws?
Before the Cards Are Flipped
Childlike Faith
Don’t Forget Your Earmuffs
Keep on Dreaming
I Might Be Crazy
The Battle Line
Pick It Up
The First Drop of Rain
Let the Games Begin
When the Dam Breaks
Goals Are Dumb
Still Get Out of the Boat
Scar Tissue
How the Turtle Got There
You Gotta Have “It”
Epilogue: The Theory of Everything


Illogical is a book that challenges us to break free from the constraints of logic and pursue our dreams with passion and courage. Emmanuel Acho, a former NFL player, TV host, and bestselling author, shares his own journey of overcoming the odds and achieving success in various fields. He also introduces us to other illogical pioneers who have defied the norms and made a positive impact in the world. Acho offers a step-by-step guide to finding our callings, shifting our mindsets, and embracing a life of infinite possibility.

Illogical is an inspiring and empowering book that will motivate you to say yes to your potential and purpose. Acho writes with honesty, humor, and wisdom, drawing from his personal experiences and biblical principles. He shows us how to overcome fear, doubt, and criticism, and how to trust God’s plan for our lives. He also challenges us to use our gifts and talents to serve others and make a difference. Illogical is a book that will make you rethink your limits and inspire you to live illogically.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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