We become what we consume. And we need to consume good books.
I strongly believe that if we want to lead and influence people and make a difference in the lives of those around us, we need to be readers. The wisdom and knowledge we can get from books is incredible, and they allow us to learn so much from the lives of others.
The bottom line is this: books are the quickest shortcut to growth. And if we want to be successful, we always need to be growing and learning and enriching our minds.
This was a difficult list to put together, and there were many more books that I could have added, but I only listed a book if it truly changed me as a person and how I view the world. These books have played an incredible role in changing my thought processes, my habits, and consequently, my life.
Here are 10 books that have changed me into the man I am today
Note: these are labeled as "business" for the sake of simplicity. Some could be labeled as "self-help" or "motivational" as well.
1. Essentialism - Greg McKeown
I've read this book three times now, that's how good it is. Essentialism is one of my all time favorites for extremely practical lessons on living out the life that you want, and staying focused on only the truly essential things. This book will change the way you do relationships, make everyday decisions, spend your time, communicate, and ultimately, the way you do life. If you haven't read it yet, I strongly encourage you to grab it on Amazon and give it a read. And then give it to a friend, because it's just too good not to.
2. Good to Great - Jim Collins
Many claim that this is one of the best business books of all time, and I tend to agree. Jim researched what makes a great business, but the principles in this book go far beyond just business. You will become a better leader, and a better person for reading this book. It may change the way you do business, and it will change the way you see life. A fantastic, timeless read.
3. The $100 Startup - Chris Guillebeau
This is a book I read as I was going through the process of starting up my photography business, and it was essential in getting that off the ground. It is extremely practical and dives deep into the nitty gritty of starting a lean business from scratch. Very hands on methods and instructions that will help the beginner and the accomplished business person.
4. Start - Jon Acuff
This book will motivate you to get off your butt and go make something happen. Jon is one of the coolest guys around, and he lays out ideas and tips to get started. This is a deeply inspiring book that helped me after I had quit my job and was wondering around without a clue on what to do with my life. I remember when I was going through it, and often I would yell out loud at a point that was made, because it's just so good and motivating. If you're not sure what your next step is, read this book.
5. Tribes - Seth Godin
A book by one of the greatest marketing and business minds of all time. Seth has a way of writing that just makes sense, and he doesn't mince words in getting his point across. This book helps you understand the way people think and live in today's connection economy, and how groups of people, or tribes, are the only way forward in the marketing world. If you're an entrepreneur interested in selling (you are) then read this. Anything Seth touches turns to gold.
Fiction and Personal Development Books
Note: this is a mix of science fiction, self-help, and personal development/ leadership books.
6. Scary Close - Donald Miller
A book on true intimacy and authentic connection. Two things that I hate. But this book opened my eyes to negative cycles that I'd been going through that were hurting me and my relationships. Donald tells his story of his own struggles with intimacy, vulnerability, and true connection without controlling. And it's a beautiful picture of what can happen when you start to get to know yourself in the deepest sense of the word.
7. The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
Everyone knows Brene Brown. And for good reason. Everyone struggles or has struggled with shame and feelings of "less than" at some point in their lives. And Brene does a beautiful job of unraveling the lies we tell ourselves that keep us from being real with ourselves and others, and how to be our real, authentic, and messy selves. And being OK with being imperfect. A book everyone should read.
8. Big Magic - Liz Gilbert
A fascinating read on creativity, fear, and inspiration by the amazing Liz Gilbert. This book will challenge you in how you thought about creativity, and how inspiration works. It's a really fun read, and hopefully it encourages you to share what you create with the world. One of my favorite quotes is: "So you think you're not creative? Too late. You already are!"
9. Wild at Heart - John Eldredge
This book is geared towards men, but it will change anyone who reads it. John Eldredge takes us through the masculine journey, and he goes deep. You might cry reading this, and if you don't, you may need to fix something. Most every little boy was hurt by his dad in some way, at some point in life, and this book may help you get started on the journey to redemption.
10. The Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis
A little science fiction by my favorite author of all time. C.S. Lewis has one of the most eloquent writing styles of any author, and in these 3 volumes he creates a world based in his imagination, but also in reality. Because of Lewis' mastery of the English language, this is an extremely visual book that will constantly use and push your imagination. And your vocabulary is guaranteed to improve a thousand times. An enjoyable read that you may not be able to put down until you finish.
Practical Next Steps
This is logical, but go buy or borrow some books! Use your local library, that's what they're for. But I recommend purchasing the books, because there's still something so special about owning it yourself.
Set a goal for how many books you want to read by the end of this year. I set a goal of 30 at the beginning of this year, and right now I'm on pace for about 40. Exciting times!
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