I am often inspired by the life stories of really successful people. Some, like Oprah Winfrey, have come from pretty terrible circumstances.
Others, like Bill Gates, come from rather ordinary white American upbringings. Others are the children of immigrants, like Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy. One part of these individuals’ lives I have never quite considered is what books they read – what are their favorites, and have those books influenced them, inspired them, or simply entertained them?
Here are 10 books that are recommended by some current icons:
1. Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics by Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner
These two books provide new twists on the study of economics, pulling together seemingly unrelated phenomena and showing their relationships. In the first book, such chapters as “Why Drug Dealers Still Live with their Mothers,” describes the entire corporate structure of drug kingpins and the fact that the corner drug dealer would make more working at McDonald’s. The second book is just as “freaky,” with compelling chapter titles such as, “What do Prostitutes and Department Store Santa’s Have in Common?
“I really liked Freakonomics and I think SuperFreakonomics is even better. I recommend this book to anyone who reads nonfiction…one of my favorite things in the book is the debunking of many of the studies economists have done that they use as the basis for claiming that people are irrational in their choices….” – Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
2. Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift
Johnathan Swift was a satirical writer of the 18th century who criticized England, the self-righteousness of governments that rule over others because they are somehow more enlightened or morally correct (referring to England’s ruling over its colonies), and the foibles of human nature in general.
“To learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos (slaves in the book).” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
This book proposes ways in which new startups can scientifically, more efficiently, and more rapidly test out their innovations, so that money and time are not wasted. As such, the methods proposed by Ries, are operational both in a college dorm room and in a corporate boardroom. Clearly, this is a book for today’s entrepreneur.
“If you want to read only one book on startups, you should choose The Lean Startup. It’s about one of the hottest startup theories today. Startup is all about testing your idea, hypotheses, and then finding their best combination. Like a science, not a casino.” – Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook)
4. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
According to Branson, he began reading the book while in the bathtub and was so absorbed and disturbed at the same time that he could not stop. Gore has made the case about climate change and man’s guilt in its cause, with data that really cannot be interpreted any other way.
Branson was so shaken by the book, and, specifically, the contributions of the transportation industry to the problem that he subsequently has pledged all of the profits from Virgin Airlines to clean energy efforts and has made it his mission to pressure other “dirty” industries to contribute as well.
5. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
“This is probably the book that’s made the biggest impact on my life over the past five years. The author examines the beliefs about happiness of different cultures, religions and philosophers from different periods, and then compares those beliefs with research that’s been done on the science of happiness. The book is thought-provoking and the concepts can be applied to business and to life.” – Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos)
6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
This is the story of Holden Caulfield, a teen who has been expelled from school and is in search of himself. The events and encounters he has are typical of a teen in the 1960’s, but are just as relevant today as then. This is also on the favorite list of Bill Gates.
“It’s very clever. It acknowledges that young people are a little confused but can be smart about things and see things that adults can’t. I’ve always loved it.” – Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)
7. Running on Empty by Peter Peterson
Peterson writes a scathing condemnation of all politicians who are too concerned about their own political futures than to do the right things – fix the tax code; stop huge cuts and subsidies to corporations that don’t need or deserve, pass laws that will harm future generations, and fail to fix critical programs like Social Security and Medicare.
“Today, too many of our country’s key economic decisions are being made with an eye to the next election rather than to the next generation.” – Warren Buffet
8. The Power of Now by Eckert Tolle
Philosopher and “new age” spiritualist Tolle posits that time is an illusion and that there really is only “now” for any of us. But living in the moment does not mean that we are to be superficial “carpe diem” actors – we need to engage in “mindfulness,” to become one with the Universe through that mindfulness, and that will take us to the action we are meant to pursue. There is a lot of Zen Buddhism in this book, and Oprah Winfrey recommended it many times on her iconic TV show, having Tolle on as a guest several times.
9. Competing Against Time by George Stalk
The thesis of this work is that time is now added to the other three critical factors of competitiveness – money, productivity, and quality. In fact, says the author, because changes and innovations are occurring so rapidly, that time may indeed come to be the single most important factor in remaining competitive.
Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) is so enamored with this book, that he passes it out everywhere and recommends its reading to all new hires at Apple.
10. Life is What You Make It by Peter Buffet (Warren Buffet’s son)
This book is also on the favorites lists of Bill Clinton and Jamie Dimon. This book is autobiographical, of course, and through it, Buffett expounds on the wisdom he has accumulated from his family and his experiences. From his family, he learned that “everyone must find his own way in life.” He also challenges his readers – rather than take the way of least resistance, choose the path to greatest satisfaction.
“With home-spun, heart-felt wisdom Peter Buffet ponders how to make a meaningful life, while making a living. Life is What You Make It is thought-provoking, worthwhile reading.” – Ted Turner (Media Icon and Founder of CNN)
I hope you enjoyed my article! Which book is your favorite from this list?
(Part 2) Conquering the Impossible Space Between Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Be
I wrote a blog post based on a mini-series I did for my Subscribers on the Achieve the Impossible App and have packaged it up in two parts to share here. If you missed Part One, quick click here and have a read over that first before reading any further!
One of the first obstacles we’re going to face on this journey towards risk is one that often strikes a damaging blow to our pride and can sometimes take us to our knees. As you embark on this journey, I can almost guarantee that we will take a wrong turn from time to time, we will read the map wrong (I’ll take the hit, I’m the navigator – sorry!) which will send us off course.
When you’ve taken a wrong turn driving, what is your first thought? DAMN IT. (Yep, me too!) What’s your second thought? Is it ‘ahh, I’ve stuffed up. I’m gonna just pull over and sit here until either the roads and maps magically change in my favor or someone comes to rescue me?’ Or do we think ‘Ok, what’s the quickest way to get back on my path?’
When we stuff up, make a mistake, choose the wrong software, tell the wrong people or say the wrong thing, we don’t just pack up our dreams and hide. NO. We pick ourselves back up. We face the right direction (or what we believe is the right direction) and we MOVE FORWARD.
I don’t care if you start by walking one ginger step at a time, just start! Those small steps gain momentum and eventually lead to a jog, then before you know it, you’re back running!
Mistakes aren’t meant to end us, they are there to redirect us. Anytime you embark on an unknown journey you’re going to make mistakes.How you respond is the only thing I want you to focus on. Respond with reflection, movement and momentum in the direction of your dreams.
On our journey, we’re going to make mistakes and take wrong turns from time to time, but we choose to pick ourselves back up, and get back on that journey! We’re not staying stuck, we’re ‘running to risk’! As we get back on this journey, we’re going to need to make a decision to take action and invest in risk.
Sounds like I’m about to write a message on Warren Buffett’s worst nightmare. But that’s not the risk I’m talking about and it’s not the investing I’m talking about. Sleep tight, Warren. This risk I’m talking about is the thing that stands between you and your dream. The thing that you’ve told yourself is too strong, too powerful and too insurmountable to climb.
It’s often the case that the risk we perceive in our own minds is actually far greater than it truly is in reality. I remember as a child, visiting a museum and being fascinated by a scary looking dinosaur down the other side of the room. It looked ferocious and intimidating from across the room, and as I walked closer and closer, the dinosaur, through the magic of perspective, got bigger and bigger.
That’s where I feel we are at right now on our journey towards risk. We’ve identified the risk standing between us and our dreams, and we’re taking the tentative first steps towards it. As we step closer and closer to risk, it will look bigger. You’ll start to compare the size of it to you, and don’t be surprised if it grows each step you take. But, have faith.
The closer I got to the dinosaur, the bigger it became. I had a choice to let fear or faith determine my next steps. I continued walking step by step towards the prehistoric creature. Then something strange happened.
Yes, the closer I got to the creature, the bigger it became. But then something else came into the picture. The closer I got, the more detail I was noticing. What I thought were bone-crunching teeth were actually a matte white plastic, what I thought was impenetrable skin was old flaking greeny-brown paint. Those eyes that glared at you from across the room, were now nothing but big marble sized spheres of glass.
When we step towards fear, yes it gets bigger – but as we invest in faith and continue to live our lives in the direction of our dreams, we expose the master of risk…FEAR.
Invest in those extra steps this week as you get closer to risk to point out the finer details, you’re going to realise it’s not as scary as it once seemed. Those steps aren’t always going to come easy though, because the journey towards risk is an interesting one.
There’ll be times when you’re pumped full of Adrenalin, bashing down every obstacle that comes your way. There will be times where you’re cruising on a nice downhill slope, enjoying the scenery and wondering why it took you this long to convince yourself to get here!
Then there’ll be times when things aren’t easy. Just like my climb this evening up a little mountain by my home on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. I started out full of energy, pumped for the adventure ahead, then five minutes into the usually very achievable rocky steps, my legs started really feeling it.
“You’ll never know your strength until you’ve faced your struggles.”
The Adrenalin gave way to frustration, to fear and to my quickly draining self-belief in my fitness. I continued one painful step at a time. I wasn’t going the pace I normally would, but knew this mountain could be conquered one slow step at a time.
As I slowly neared the end of the steps, my legs were burning, my heart pounding and my mindset weakening. Two quiet words burst through my pain…
I’m pretty sure I’ve never said this going up the mountain before, but it seemed fitting. As I climbed one step at a time, ‘stay strong’ became my repeated mantra. After the season of pain and intentional mindset building, I reached the summit of the mountain and cruised my way back down.
There is such an incredibly untapped power within our self-belief and mindset, which shapes our self-talk. On your journey towards your risk, I can almost guarantee you’ll be faced with steps that seem too difficult, too challenging, too much to conquer.
Remember…’stay strong’. You’re on this path for a reason – you’re capable of completing it. You’ve come this far, see it through. Your ‘impossible’ dream is counting on you to conquer fear and run to risk!
This blog is based off the mini-series ‘Run to Risk’ first featured on the Achieve the Impossible App, accompanied by downloadable wallpapers and daily inspiring messages to inspire, challenge and equip you to achieve your impossible dream. Download the Achieve the Impossible App and start your free trial today!
(Part 1) Conquering the Impossible Space Between Where You Are Now and Where You Want to Be
Deep down, you know exactly what you are capable of. There’s even moments where you get a glimpse of all the potential you have. You can get there. You just have to be willing to sacrifice the habits, things and situations that are standing in the way of your success. I honestly believe “Running to Risk” has the power to unlock mindsets and belief systems that have been holding you back from your true potential (I’m naturally conservative so it’s big coming from me!)
Before we do something crazy and ‘run to risk’, let’s take stock of where we are today and our foundational beliefs in our potential and true capacity. In the day-to-day act of living, waking up, coffee, breakfast, school drop-offs, work, more coffee, home, homework, dinner, finish off emails, glass or two of (insert drink here), collapse on couch, Netflix etc. We can become disconnected with our true potential and capacity.
You are being pulled from all sides – your family, your boss, your colleagues, your partner, your friends, even your dog. You can be forgiven for prioritising the present over the future.
To set up this series on healthy and personal-capacity fuelled risk, I want you to invest a moment or two searching deep within yourself.
- What’s in your heart for 2019?
- What is one thing you would look back on come 31st Dec 2019 and be proud of your personal accomplishment?
- What’s something that scares you?
- What’s that one thing that has been on the back of your mind that you’d love to put your name to in your lifetime?
The answer to the above is the thing we’re going to focus on in part one of this post. We’re focusing on it because with every achievement that challenges our personal capacity and unlocks our potential, there will be an element of risk.
Risk Is Scary!
Risk stares you in the face from afar and says ‘don’t you dare approach. Don’t even try’. This is when you’re faced with a decision to make, and the best (and also worst!) thing about it is you’re the only one who can make it!
As you make this decision to ‘run to risk’, the regret of not running has to be stronger than your personal comfort. Your comfort must give way to your calling. Your present must give way to your potential.
Think about the one thing on your heart – the thing that helps you step into your calling and potential. The thing with risk looming all over it. Let’s build the strength, self-belief, courage, boldness and tenacity to ‘Run to Risk.’ But what about timing? I’m not sure if I should be pursuing my dream now.
“You can’t always wait for the perfect time. Sometimes, you have to dare to do it because life is too short to wonder what might have been.”
We’re not running to risk for a laugh and a good time, we’re running to risk because that dream in our hearts for 2019 is worth pursuing. When faced with the potential of risk, we often come up with thoughts and reasons to justify our lack of momentum or progress.
I don’t know how!
I don’t have the money!
I don’t have the connections!
But one of the most common excuses I hear (I know, because I hear it from myself) is a little sentence that has killed more dreams and crushed more souls than most. ’It’s not the right time’.
It’s one of the most powerful excuses because it bulldozes every other excuse by default. You’ll always meet more people, money comes and goes, but once time is gone, it’s gone forever. This excuse becomes our default without us even realising it.
I remember when I was wanting to launch a few online courses, a podcast and a book. (These are all my risks for 2019). But they were also my goals for 2017 and 2018. Sadly, I put my insecurities ahead of my identity and my convenience over my calling. Looking back now, each excuse I held to for not launching these projects was based on timing.
First, the IG algorithms were affecting posts, then someone else launched a podcast in my niche and gosh, I couldn’t do that! Next, as I was writing my IG Online Course, another one came on the market. Nope, can’t do that now. I’ll wait until the marketing heat dies down on that one. The exact same situation with my book launch…it just wasn’t quite the right time.
Here’s what I learnt and something I want to share with you, there’s never a right time to do the thing that’s on your heart. The right time will never simply show up, you’ve got the time, now it’s up to you to make it right!
Looking back, I’ve felt the pain of regret and don’t want to let the fear of risk lead to regret again. Now is the time to look risk dead square in the eyes and say ‘ready or not, here I come’. Yeah, the I could start now I guess…I know what I want to do and I kinda believe now is as good of time as any…I’m honestly not sure where to start.
“Never be afraid to try something new, because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know.”
Now It’s Time!
We’ve just told risk we’re coming for it. We’ve made the decision to put our calling over our comfort and choose to be lead by faith not fear. Now it’s the time to start. We’re starting right now because we have been given the time, and we’ve got complete power and control to make it the ‘right time’. We’ve made the decision to go after that thing that’s on our heart, the thing we’ve always wanted to do, the thing that has been too risky.
Not anymore. Today, we start.
There is huge power in the start. When we start, we have the luxury of being on home ground. We are making more decisions for ourselves, rather than having to make decisions based on responses which we will have to inevitably do down the road.
Today, we start.
We’re filled fresh with enthusiasm, passion and driven by our desire to accomplish something meaningful this year. Yesterday, we may have had a loss to our name, we may have stumbled and fallen…but you’ve picked yourself up.
Today, we start.
We look to the future with our heads held high, the hopes of a brighter future with that dream in our heart knowing that we are valiantly pursuing it despite the risk. We know our dream, we know we are capable of achieving it, we know we’ve got the time and today, we start.
We start the journey as we ‘Run to Risk’.This blog is based off the mini-series ‘Run to Risk’ first featured on the Achieve the Impossible App, accompanied by downloadable wallpapers and daily inspiring messages to inspire, challenge and equip you to achieve your impossible dream. Download the Achieve the Impossible App and start your free trial today!
It’s What You Do On A ‘Bad Day’ That Matters.
Last Friday was a bad day for me. I woke up late, missed the gym and didn’t meditate.
None of this was intentional.
I then turned my computer on to do what I do every day: blog. I was not prepared for the whirlwind that followed.
As I opened up my social media channels, there were a lot more than usual, direct messages. I started reading each one and they were from colleagues and friends who wanted to warn me that I had a large amount of hate-fuelled comments on social media. I’m usually pretty good at dealing with hate comments. Not on that day, though — I was having a ‘bad day.’
I turned off the computer and didn’t respond to anybody. In the same week, I’d been told I was now a LinkedIn Top Voice for 2018.
I should have been celebrating and I didn’t because I didn’t feel worthy. If anything, I wanted to give up there and then. Luckily I didn’t follow through with any of these ideas. I knew it was just noise in my awful day.
I went away to sit on the couch and think about what I’d just read. Without really thinking about what I was going to do for the rest of the day, I began thinking about my team at work. There were several leadership challenges that I had to solve.
One was from a customer that was being abusive to female staff. Another was a rejection I had to deliver to someone that wanted to work with us. The hardest part about delivering the rejection was that I’d already said yes.
Despite the day being bad, I made a fundamental decision — to keep doing what I do and not stop. I said to myself “How can I inspire people while simultaneously solving both these challenges?”
I’m a big believer that it’s not what you say that matters; it’s what you do. Talk is cheap. I came up with a bold plan to address both challenges.
I was going to do something that made me see the good in the people involved.
Even if the people in both situations had let me down, I was going to assume they were still good.
I concocted a plan to help both people and try and show them a more positive way to move forward. If I break down the plan, it was about being an inspiration in both situations.
I didn’t feel like being inspiring.
It was not the day to be inspiring.
But it was the only way I could motivate myself to finish off this bad day and wake up the next morning fresh. It’s funny how a good nights sleep takes away all the pain and negativity from the day before.
So, by the end of the day, I enabled both plans. I set out to release inspiration in both scenarios and that was my only focus. I didn’t look at anymore hate fuelled comments or go near social media.
On that bad day last Friday, my actions helped me keep moving forward and not give up.
It’s not about necessarily seeing the good in your bad day.
I’ve read this sort of advice heaps, but it requires a lot of willpower.
“Using your actions to make the day better rather than trying to think your way out of your bad day seems to be a lot easier to implement”
It’s not about the bad day.
Bad days will happen.
It’s what you do on a bad day that determines if you’ll feel the full effect of all the negativity that can potentially knock you out like a Tsunami that comes your way when all you wanted to do was lay on the beach and soak up some sun.
I’ve learned to find situations during a day that’s not working out well for me, to do something good, and often that’s not something that benefits me. If I was to look at it another way it would be “How do I not focus on my own bad day?”
Trying to make someone else’s day good distracts you from your own bad day.
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