I picked up the habit of reading when I was 20, not because I particularly enjoy reading (I don’t – I’m very slow at it, I have a very short attention span, and it gets kinda boring); but because I know the amazing benefits of reading. Over the years I’ve noticed that my relationship with books/ reading takes 3 forms:
A : “What is a book?” – Where I go months without picking up a book to read.
B: I read but I can never remember what I read and I cannot find ways to apply what I learn to my life.
C: I read and retain what I learn and apply this to my life.
I read 11 books this year, and listened to 20 or more audio books (blame it on my long commute). So, for the few times when I actually remember what I read and applied the lessons to my life, here are 3 books that really stood out to me:
“Qualities that will help you succeed: Self-discipline, desire, persistence, focus, effort, patience, energy, obsessiveness, observance, confidence, trust in self, emotional commitment, humility, adaptability, boldness, openness”
I read this book soon after I started my first job out of university, and was trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. This book could not have come at a better time because it seeks to help people discover their life’s task and find a path that will lead to success/ fulfilment. Robert Greene conducted several interviews with different people who are masters in their fields, and gave examples from their lives about the challenges they faced on their way to becoming masters and how they overcame them. It talks about the importance of apprenticeship, self-education and mentorship. Green also talked about the importance of valuing learning over money especially at the beginning stages of your career when you are trying to figure out your life’s task. According to the book, if you focus on money you will always be focused on trying to prove that you deserve such a big paycheck. Your focus will be diverted from acquiring skills to your insecurities, and this eventually catches up to you.
Related post: Invest In Yourself; You Will Get The Greatest Returns
How I Applied It
This book helped me a lot when I started my first job which came with lots of challenges. Instead of seeing my work as a boring rite of passage, I try to see it as a journey that will transform all areas of my life. In addition, I have since sought out different mentors in different fields which has helped me tremendously. I think the most important lesson I learnt from the book is the need to do away with the idea that everything in life should be pleasurable. I have a tendency to abandon things/projects when they get boring, but I am learning to stick to things ESPECIALLY when they get boring because according to Greene, “the pain and boredom we experience in the initial stage of learning a skill toughens our mind.”
“Great businesses are not built by extraordinary people but by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
All the words in the 265 pages of this book seem so important to know and remember that I highlighted almost all the paragraphs and left stickies in almost every chapter.
The “E-myth” this book refers to is the Entrepreneurial myth. Most people have the wrong idea about businesses and more so about being an entrepreneur. This book shows you how to start and run your small business in a productive way. It breaks down the difference between the entrepreneur (the inner-visionary who thinks of new ideas and new ways to do things), the manager (who creates order and routine) and the technician (the doer who focuses on techniques and implementation). You realize that when people try to play all 3 roles at the same time there is a big problem for you and for your business. The book also talks about the importance of having systems. For most businesses to be successful, it is not necessary to hire the smartest people. In most cases, it is much better to hire people with the minimum qualifications required to perform the role and train them to do the work. If a system is in place, people will have no choice but to operate within the bounds of the business. Also, if there is a system, you will be able to work on your business rather than in it. This is very important because as Gerber said:
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”
One of the best lessons learned from the book is the fact that lots of people try to start a business in their craft. I’m sure you know about some people that start a bakery/cupcake business simply because they love to bake. Just because you enjoy doing something (technician), does not mean you can run/ operate a similar business, as this requires you to be a manager and entrepreneur as well. In many cases, people start resenting the thing that they once loved to do when they decide to start businesses. For most people, working in a business as a technician (eg. a baker) is the best way to explore their passion.
How I Applied It
In college, I started writing resumes and cover letters for people for free because I kind of enjoyed it. When I graduated, I saw it as a way to make money, and I actually made some money doing it and I thought about turning it into a business, but then I realized just how much work it involved. I realized that it would be hard to build a system for this, and I started resenting it because I had to wear all the hats. After I was paid for the 17th resume, I realized it was time to stop because I didn’t have the skill (or time) to perform all 3 vital roles and for other reasons (maybe I will give it more thought in the future). From this book, I learned that not everything has to be a business (much to the chagrin of all money bloggers that encourage you to start a business in the thing that you love doing).
“Busy your mind with the concepts of harmony, health, peace, and good will, and wonders will happen in your life.”
Murphy explained the relationship between your conscious (active thoughts) and subconscious (automatic thoughts). The subconscious mind interacts and reacts with our patterns of thinking and behaviour. It is left to us to direct the subconscious mind to work in our favour rather than against us (as the subconscious mind does not distinguish between negative and positive thoughts – it only reacts to what it is fed). From this book, you learn that life does not happen to us, we happen to life: instead of looking outside for the solutions to our problems, we need to start looking inwards. If you consciously believe something, your subconscious minds (which is all-knowing) will find ways to solve your problems so that you achieve things you want. What stood out to me most is the importance of the power of suggestion in achieving goals (when we expect something to happen our behaviours and actions actually contribute to making sure that it happens).
How I Applied It
Three words: Daily positive affirmations. I learnt from the book that the best time to impregnate the subconscious mind is at night before we go to bed and in the morning when we first wake up before we are distracted by our responsibilities. By focusing and saying out loud the things we want (not only physical things), during those periods, we can make an impression on our subconscious minds. So every night I try (TRY, but sometimes fail) to focus on the things I want to happen, and because I know that my subconscious mind is omnipotent and has ability to lead me to make the right decisions, I have seen a lot of things just happen naturally. I’m not sure how to explain it – JUST READ THE BOOK!
So tell me, what are the favorite books you read in 2016?