When I was young, I never read. I hated reading. Absolutely hated it. Put a ball in my hand or a board under my feet and I was good to go…but put a book in front of my face and I was fast asleep. I don’t even know how I got through High School. I don’t remember reading one book. I remember some cliff notes…but no books. Kind of sad really.
But now I can’t get enough of it. Reading has changed my life. In every way, shape, and form. The way I run a business or approach an important meeting. The way I raise my kids and treat my wife. The way I look at others and the way they look at me. I seem to remember an important piece of scriptural advice saying something to the effect of “Seek ye out of the best books…words of wisdom”…and now I know why that was said.
Almost every successful person that I know attributes much of their success to reading one or more of the books on this list. They will say something like “This book changed my life” or “This is the best book I’ve ever read”. I made it a goal of mine to find out what those books are. Here is my list…so that you don’t have to do years of searching. Reading any one of them will change your life for the better as it did mine. They are not in any order…
1. How To Stop Worrying and Start Living: Dale Carnegie
We live in the worriers age. People worry about everything. Anxiety is out of control and people are getting sick because of it. Worry is at the root of heart disease, auto-immune diseases, high blood pressure, and chronic pain. It leads to depression and despair. It leads to over eating, lack of exercise, and sleepless nights. All of these things keep a person from living a life of enjoyment, and its become my opinion that if you don’t enjoy life… then whats the point?
2. The Magic of Thinking Big: David Schwartz
So many people live their life living behind the boundaries that they have set for themselves. They never scratch the surface of their true potential, not because they are incapable, but because they are small minded. You need to learn how to stop making excuses about your current circumstances and start living up to who you were capable of becoming. The biggest tragedy in life is to see people live short of their dreams and then blame others for their failures. Remove “excusitus” from your life.
3. As A Man Thinketh: James Allen
Don’t let the title of this book fool you. This book is meant for men and women. If you can learn to control what goes on inside your mind, then you will have a great advantage over those that surround you. They say that “thought precedes action, action becomes habit, and habit forms your character. Your character is what will define you in this life and in the next. Your mind is where you lose or gain all control of your surrounding environment. You and you alone control your ability to succeed and it all starts with the mastery of the mind.
4. How To Win Friends and Influence People: Dale Carnegie
Making friends is one of the most successful life and business strategies that a person can have. This life boils down to how many people like you and how many people dislike you. It’s okay to have people dislike you but it has to be in proportion to the amount of people that do like you. If a majority of people that come across you end up disliking you, then you will probably find yourself with very few opportunities to succeed. No one will want to hire you. No one will want to work for you. No one will want to engage your services no matter how good you are…and honestly, no one will ever want to be around you. You will never be able to help, lead, or influence anyone else until you have found away to become likable.
5. Good to Great: Jim Collins
There are some authors that have come onto the scene that are trying to challenge some of the principles that were taught in this book. There is a reason why this book was called the Red Bible by so many people in the business world. I think it has application not only in business but life in general. The title, in and of itself suggests a breaking free from the cocoon of mediocrity. That’s exactly what this book will teach you. If you only focus on one thing within this book, focus on the chapter that talks about “Level 5 Leadership”. We have plenty of managers, but very few real leaders.
6. Contagious: Jonah Berger
There are very few things that we do in life that do not require us to find a way to get our message out to other people. Lots of people can build a great product, or deliver a great service, but they fail to get others to share and talk about the product or service that they are offering. The art of making something ‘contagious’ or ‘viral’ is something that should be studied by everyone that lives in the digital age.
7. The Art of The Sale: Philip Delves Broughton
Sales doesn’t have to be looked at as a naughty word or a dirty profession. Everyone is selling something. Doctors, dentists, accountants, contractors, pastors, consultants, football players, and every other profession under the sun is selling! We are either selling a product, a service, or ourselves everywhere that we go. Sometimes we’re selling all three simultaneously. Even when you and your family are sitting in the car trying to figure out the best place to go to dinner, everyone is selling their ideas to each other. Normally the best sales pitch wins. Believe in what you’re selling and let your passion do the work.
8. The 4 Hour Work Week: Timothy Ferriss
There is a bunch of stuff in this book that I don’t agree with…including the title…but I love the out of the box thinking that is found here. It’s the kind of “work smarter, not harder” mentality that is so evident in successful people. I don’t believe that I’ll ever only work 4 hours a week. I don’t really want to work for only four hours a week. I like work and I like the feeling of daily accomplishment. Despite the seeming extreme title, there are some really great life lessons in this book that teach a person to look at things differently and to challenge the status quo. Making money is great but it is in no way a predictor of happiness.
9. The Fred Factor by: Mark Sanborn
This was one of the first books I read as I started my business career. It starts with a mailman that went the extra mile to bring a smile to someone else’s face despite his seemingly insignificant role as a mailman. His name was Fred…and I think you’ll want to get to know Fred. Going the extra mile even when you don’t have to is what separates the stagnant unsuccessful complainers apart from the cream of the crop.
10. The Scriptures: God
Last on my list but first in my heart. The scriptures are by far my most influential mentor and consultant. Read them all and don’t be close minded. The scriptures guide almost every decision that I make and I am constantly trying to apply the principles that are found within. Even if you’re not religious…you will still benefit from reading the scriptures.
I’ve often said to myself… “Why couldn’t I have learned these things before I was 30?” I feel like I could have been much more effective at a much earlier age if I had just been exposed to the things that are found in these books. Now I have the opportunity to give my kids what I wish I had learned a lot sooner. Only thing is… my son doesn’t like to read. A chip of the old block. So…a little bribery might find its way into our household.