Chase the Bears: Little Things to Achieve Big Dreams
Chase the Bears is an upbeat, part self-help book, part memoir from first-time author, seasoned attorney, and former U.S. Congressman Ric Keller. With “chasing the bears” as a metaphor for reaching goals, Keller lays out his specific method for how to do so. He shows how he realized two of his life’s dreams, graduating top of his college class and getting elected to Congress, by using this method.
Keller focuses on five main tips for success. First, figure out what your true gifts are. Once you do that, stay in your lane. He suggests we can’t all be ‘anything,’ but we can all do anything we want that relies on our personal strengths.
Next, trust your intuition. Comparing intuition to an internal GPS system, he believes gut feelings are the truest. In Keller’s bid for congressional office, his gut told him to stay in the race even as the leader of his party asked him to bow out. Since he was ultimately elected after winning a tough primary and a tougher general election against a seasoned politician, his gut proved right.
Third, Keller encourages us to take a chance. But, more specifically, he advises taking calculated risks. He doesn’t promote taking leaps of blind faith but encourages taking chances that line up with our strengths. And, when taking those risks, instead of identifying every little thing that can go wrong, ask: what if it all works out? He believes that once you set your goal, the universe will conspire with you, not against you.
The adage goes: Try and try again. Keller’s fourth tip is a variation: Fail and win anyway. He points to celebrity “fails” that ultimately led to huge wins, arguing that losing out might be the universe’s way of pointing you toward another opportunity. In his own life, as sad as Keller was to not be reelected to Congress in 2008, his wins from that loss include being a more available dad for his children and making considerably more money as a litigating attorney.
Keller’s final piece of advice is to not take yourself too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself makes you relatable and more human. Keller uses personal examples to demonstrate how self-effacing jokes have helped him secure campaign funding, lock down votes in tight elections, and deflect criticism.
Chase the Bears is an easy read that gives a new, positive take on old tropes. Though a Republican, Keller makes sure to give credit on both sides of the aisle, including nods to Barack Obama and JFK, which aligns with his belief that civility is of the utmost importance and is severely lacking in today’s society.
His use of well-known celebrity stories and lesser or unknown ones all lend support to his method for success. If you read this book, you’ll learn some new things about the world, and hopefully you’ll internalize some of Keller’s simple suggestions for achieving your dreams, too.
Elizabeth Young is a member of The Florida Bar.