In this book summary of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, you’ll find my notes, high-level ideas, valuable lessons, and important action steps.
The Fountainhead Summary
Stubbornness isn’t a bad thing if the motive is pure.
A man’s name and integrity are all he has.
There will be struggles and dark times when you’re beginning the pursuit of your dream. It takes relentless and dedicated work to build up your craft.
Don’t do things for the sole basis of pleasing other people. You won’t be personally happy. People pleasers may prosper in the short-term, but they never truly proposer in the long-term.
If you take shortcuts and fail to put in the hard work, eventually it will catch up with you.
Part of what makes life and relationships a thrill is the struggle. If it all came easy, the triumph wouldn’t feel as great as a hard-fought triumph does.
Society gets poisoned when everyone goes around accepting the ideas of others.
Marry who you want to marry. Don’t marry someone because others will be impressed and it will help you climb the social or corporate ladder. The marriage will fail if it’s foundation is the opinions of others.
It’s easy to rule over people when you control the way they think, which controls the way they act. (This is exactly how dictators rule.)
Change and innovation are coming, and they are good for society.
Reject the urge to be jealous of other’s achievements, materials, or popularity. That leads you to living for what other people think of you.
Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you believe in.
Man’s most powerful tool is his creative, rational mind. That’s his weapon over animals and nature.
Great achievers and individualism is better for society than socialism and a world full of conformers.
The worst decision you can make is to sell your soul and lose your integrity. So always follow your convictions and don’t stray away regardless of the pressure.
Take risks and do things outside of conventional thinking. That’s where progress is made. That’s how you can change the world.
The truth, great achievement, and integrity will eventually win and refuse to be ignored.
Freedom is found by those who stick to what they believe.
You’ll be far happier if you’re an individual thinker and creator, not a conformist who relies on other men for purpose.
You don’t need to sell your soul to the masses to achieve success.
Three Favorite Quotes
“Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire, he’d find the answer. He’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He’s not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion – prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded. He can’t say about a single thing: ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me’. Then he wonders why he’s unhappy.”
“Never ask people. Not about your work. Don’t you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?”
“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?”
Action Steps For You
You absolutely must follow your dream. Promise yourself you’ll do the work you know in your heart you want to do.
And you can’t ever stray from it. Always stand by your personal vision, even when you’re in the face of haters or detractors.
For example, don’t pursue accounting if you love building things and want to be an engineer. No matter how successful and highly regarded you are in accounting, you’ll betray yourself in the end for not doing what you love.
Don’t go to grad school for prestige to have a degree by your name. Only go if it’s required to do the work you feel compelled, at a personal level, to do.
Forget about what your family, friends, and society say you should do. All the popular opinion in the world isn’t more important than your own opinion when you know what is right.
And don’t fall for the gospel of mediocrity that’s all over. Mediocrity is never cool or satisfying in any fashion of life.
Then, when you know what you feel compelled to work on, treat it as a special gift that you should never give up for any amount of money or fame. It’s a gift that only you can give yourself, and that’s why it’s priceless.
Never give up on your dream to create beautiful work. Keep putting in the sweat and time it takes, no matter how much it takes.
When you think for yourself and be true to who you are, you’ll become your own hero. You’ll be happier. And the world will be far better off through the work you gave it than if you subdued your desires and did what you thought the people around you wanted you to do.
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