7 Awesome Books To Change Your Life

As a parent I often find myself saying, please, oh please, oh please don’t make the same mistakes I made.  Don’t grab an electric fence to see how it feels, don’t try and take your dogs bone away, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink for a week (hint, they literally grow legs and then try and eat you), don’t ghost your significant other (hint, they literally will haunt your dreams), the list goes on and on.  Like everyone else, I made the same mistakes over and over until they got so painful I decided to make a change.  Also like everyone else I looked to books to learn how to change.  Of all the books I read in my life, I estimate it is approaching 2000(1 per week for a long time:-), there are 7 books that stand out as having a profound impact on my life.  All of them are 4.5+ stars on Amazon and kick ass.  I hope my boys read all of them sooner rather than later…

This is THE book that started it all for me, my love of reading.  Some people will dis on it saying it is fiction which is not worth the paper it is printed on, to them I say, fiction spurs the innovation which will save man kind!  This is a book about feudal space empire with a protagonist named Paul Atreides, and the politics of interstellar trade.  The book was inspired by the sand dunes near Florence Or.  Turns out as a child my family regularly camped in these dunes when I was young.  They are truly amazing.  After I read Dune I stopped spending my money on Pinball Machines and used every penny I had for books.  It was my Harry Potter if you will.  Learning to love reading is a life changing event of the highest level.  Reading will make you smarter and more successful, no really, try it.

 

Crucial ConversationsThe stories we tell ourselves

This book seems like just another business self help trash book.  Its not.  This book taught me about emotions on a biological level I never got before.  It goes like this, think of your brain as a CPU which is connected to a bunch of sensors, you nerves.  So here is where it gets interesting, what are emotions?  Well emotions are what happens when your Amygdala takes in data from your sensors via nervous system and “translates” the neural messages into emotions.  Yes, TRANSLATES.  What the hell?  Am I to conclude that ALL emotions are “created”?  That was the big break through for me from an emotional IQ perspective.  Once I realized the Amygdala was translating real world events using pattern matching and then ascribing the emotion I had felt the previous time this pattern was encountered I realized I could manipulate the system and manage my emotions.  Note you can also manipulate this process to manage someone else’s emotions!  After reading this book I choose how my Amygdala translates the neural data it receives in the most productive light, note I did not say positive.  Productive as in how can I interpret these events to best help me achieve my goal.  OK now you are saying this all sounds to contrived and Machiavellian, yes I know, we all want to believe in the spontaneity of emotions but the fact is, you already create *every* emotion you have so why not create the emotions that are most useful to you.

Investment Biker

OK, this guy, Jim Rodgers, has more money than god and quit his job to drive around the world, yes completely, on a motor cycle, bitchin!  Not only that he brought his amazing girlfriend with him!  The map at the top of the post is from this book.  In this book Jim alternates chapters telling a story about the adventure he had getting to a particular country and the next chapter is what he learned about the country by being on the ground in that country.  The adventures are great, mechanical break downs, getting arrested, bribing, may all seem a bit mundane but when you are 2500 miles from civilization they all become interesting.  When you are done you will understand your style with money and what you can do to start making more of it.

 

Awareness

Seriously another self help book?  Seems so…  Anthony de Mello is an Indian Jesuit Priest and this creates the coolest mix of East and West I have ever encountered.  What really sets Awareness apart is his relaxed, funny, supportive approach to helping you understand the only reason you are not happy is because you choose not to be happy.  Why the hell would you do that?  Turns out, you fear if you allow yourself to be happy with your current state, you will settle and never make any more progress.  This FOMO on all that cool stuff, money, beach houses, Mc Royal with Cheese, trip to the moon, whatever, makes you unhappy.  Anthony will help you understand how to be happy and yet strive for growth everyday.  Seriously, turns out you accomplish more when you are happy, duh.  So the magic is deriving happiness not from achieving the goal but pursuing the goal.  Making this change will literally ad years to your life and better yet make the rest of your life infinitely more enjoyable.

fountainhead

Hah!  I can hear the groans!  How can I put this book on the list?  Because Ayn had the balls to tell it like it is.  People only do things if it makes them feel good.  They only do things for their own benefit.  That does not mean their actions might not be good and help others, Mother Theresa, for example, she did what she did because it made her feel good.  Why, oh why do people feel this somehow devalues her work?  It doesn’t, in fact it makes it that much more impressive to me.  She got pure joy out of dedicating a life of hard work to the disadvantaged, bitchin’.  Here is the deal, people you meet who do not like the Randian philosophy, examine if the message may be hitting too close to home for them.  I coach my boys soccer team, seriously hard work, 20 boys, 14 years old, just me, because it makes me feel good.  If you are doing something that does not make you feel good then its because you feel you have to, that sucks and makes you someone’s b*%&h.  I like Foutainhead better than Atlas Shrugged because Foutainhead felt more like a story vs Atlas more like a pulpit for Ayn’s philosophy.  After I read this book I was never surprised by self-centered human behavior again.  Accepting that reality seriously diminished the power all those dicks had over my life.

Writing to the Point

You think you are a good writer.  I bet you are not.  At least you could be better.  Based on my experience at work, less than 1 in 20 is a good writer and less than 1 in 100 is a great writer.  What is the problem.  The reality is most people write 3 time the words they need and end up rambling all over the place watering down their message.  This book provides a basic 6 step process to focus your writing.  It is simple, effective, and most of all fast.  You will deliver shorter documents, in less time, that are more effective.  Writing is second only to verbal communication as the skill that determines the level of your success.  This was my freshman writing text book, it was used when I bought it, it has 3 different peoples notes in it and I still pull it out several times a year to refresh key details for me.  It is out of print so you have to buy it used and in some places it is so valuable it sells for close to $50.  Don’t pay that, you can find it for $11 as of my writing this blog you just have to look around for it.  My writing skill earned me every early promotion in my career.

 

Getting to Yes

This is the grand daddy of them all.  For me, this book has started relationships, saved jobs, improved parenting, built friendships, its like spinach for Popeye.  The concept is simple, engage in conflict in a more positive way, better shit happens.  Its a simple 4 step approach, its not a process but they do come sequentially…

  1. separate the people from the problem
  2. argue interests not positions
  3. invent options for mutual gain
  4. use objective criteria for moving forward

This simple approach to conflict, avoiding emotion and focusing on mutual benefit will change every relationship you have.  If you read only one book on this list, make it this one…

Now go and change your life.  Seriously get off your ass and take positive action.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s