Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great book summary

Date Published: December 2, 2015

Chop Wood Carry Water:

TL;DR Summary

Unlock the Samurai Within: Become Extraordinary through the Simplest Acts! In "Chop Wood Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great", Joshua Medcalf invites you to embark on a transformative journey – building greatness through daily habits and disciplines. Rather than seeking instant success and gratification, Medcalf challenges readers to embrace the ancient wisdom of chopping wood and carrying water, synonymous with putting in the relentless hard work and developing character.

The narrative unfolds through the journey of John, an American man who travels to Japan to pursue his dream of becoming a samurai archer. Through conversations with his wise mentor, Akira, and engaging storytelling, Medcalf unveils the wisdom and tenacity needed to cultivate excellence in any endeavor.

One striking component of this book is the embrace of failure. Medcalf emphasizes that failure is not the opposite of success but an integral part of the journey. He elucidates how the protagonist, John, is taught to perceive setbacks and shortcomings as building blocks for his dream.

Additionally, Medcalf introduces the concept of “building your own house” which refers to the importance of controlling the aspects of life that are within one’s control and investing in oneself both mentally and emotionally.

Moreover, the book is peppered with anecdotes, historical references, and personal experiences that not only entertain but also serve to engrain the lessons into the reader’s conscience. The powerful parables and metaphors are woven seamlessly into the narrative, reinforcing the importance of integrity, grit, and dedication.

Ultimately, "Chop Wood Carry Water" is an invaluable guide for anyone looking to transcend mediocrity and build a legacy through daily discipline, unwavering focus, and an undying love for the process. In an age where the allure of overnight success is ever so tempting, Medcalf's work is a reminder that the pathway to greatness is often paved with patience, perseverance, and a relentless commitment to chopping wood and carrying water.

Chop Wood Carry Water:


Personal Growth
Philosophy (Eastern Philosophy)

Chop Wood Carry Water:

Main Characters

John: The protagonist, an ambitious young American with a dream to become a samurai archer. He values discipline, dedication, and learning. Throughout the book, John embraces Akira’s teachings, such as when he learns the significance of daily routine in “building his own house.”

Akira: A wise mentor and master samurai archer, who guides John through his journey. He values patience, wisdom, and integrity. For instance, he teaches John the importance of seeing failure as an essential component of success, rather than an endpoint.

Chop Wood Carry Water:


The Process is Paramount: The book emphasizes the importance of daily habits and routines as crucial components in achieving success. For instance, John’s daily training, regardless of the weather, signifies the importance of consistency.

Embracing Failure: This theme illustrates that failure is an integral part of growth. John experiences many setbacks, but Akira teaches him to view these as stepping stones rather than obstacles.

Self-Construction: This theme, symbolized by “building your own house,” highlights the importance of personal development and controlling what one can. John learns to focus on honing his skills and mental fortitude instead of worrying about external factors.

Integrity and Character: The book underscores the importance of building character and maintaining integrity. Through Akira, we learn that true greatness lies not only in skill but also in the content of one’s character.

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