6 Books That Have Changed My Life (So Far)

I've never been an avid reader. In the last three years, however, this has changed. I read to learn. I read to imbibe. I read to live. Reading has this uncanny ability to open your eyes and see the world for what it is.

Below is the list of books that have had a major influence on my life, so far. My goal is to be a lifelong learner. As Tony Robbins would say;

If you’re not growing, you’re dying

1. How To Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

Subtitle: The only book you need to lead you to success

We all have moments, moments in our lives that shape us. For me, this moment was after my first Dale Carnegie public speaking course. I enrolled because my uncle Trevor, who I consider a powerful storyteller and effective salesmen, completed the course whilst working for Ford. 

He went on to become the top salesmen at Ford, and I consider him a successful man and active role-model in my life.

I was given How To Win Friends and Influence People when I completed my public speaking course. I specifically remember the first night we had the course. Our teacher at the time, said that we should ask our parents how their day was--but, do it with empathy, sincerity and consciousness. It was the first time in my life that I had actually listened to my mom. The first time I felt a connection, an unbreakable bond between mother and son.

When I look back, after reading the likes of Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (below), How To Win Friends and Influence People is dependent on a personality-based approach. This can seem superficial if over-utilized. However, the fundamental principles do apply.

I watched Steve Jobs’ commencement speech last Sunday (I highly recommend watching it if you haven't). He told 3 stories. The first story is about connecting the dots. You cannot connect the dots going forward, only looking back. When I connect my dots looking back, that night after my first Dale Carnegie course, was my moment.

Takeaway: Remember names and Smile. Carnegie said, "a persons name to that person is the sweetest and most important sound in any language."

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Subtitle: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change

My mother recommended this book to me. In contrary to Dale Carnegie's work, it is based more on your internal paradigm.

This internal paradigm controls every thought, decision and action you make—so making sure your internal state of being is number one priority can be the greatest driving factor for external success.

Takeaway: control what is in your circle of influence. Don’t try and control what you cannot—this will only lead to anxiety and depression. Think of the "concern" as external factors; rude person on the subway, taxi cutting in front of you while commuting to work, coworker chewing food like a pig--you cannot control these and it will only make your circle of influence smaller.

Instead, focus on your internal locus of control--the things you can change; your appreciation, the lesson in the moment, your presence--maybe if the taxi hadn't cut in front of you, you might have crashed into someone else. Or shit, maybe he is just having a terrible day.

The point is, be present in the moment and don't let one negative event ruin your day.


3. Emotional Intelligence

by Daniel Goleman

Subtitle: Why it can matter more than IQ

This book was recommend to me by a friend when traveling Europe. I remember being, as you do in whilst on Contiki, hungover beyond words and I noticed Richard reading Emotional Intelligence. Which prompted me to ask him about it, which lead to me compulsively purchasing it.

It challenges the idea that IQ is destiny. Your Emotional IQ, according to Goleman, is a far greater predictor of success as apposed to your IQ.

Takeaway: I think schools should be teaching more on the subjects of self-improvement, especially the ability to listen—our modern paradigm is that of impatience. Not having the intuitive ability slowdown, understand what someone is really saying, is an underlying problem.

4. The Marshmallow Test

by Walter Mischel

Subtitle: Why Self-control Is The Engine Of Success

This book is based on the premise of self-control. Paralleled to Emotional IQ, The Marshmallow Test provides insight into how self-control, especially in young children, can be a predictor of future success.

After reading this eye-opener, I think every parent should be instilling some sort of self-control measures in place to teach their children about delayed gratification. It also emphasizes how it isn’t limited to your younger years, I believe it's a skill you can imbibe—it can be taught.

Especially, considering the latest research around neuroplasticity--showing how developed brains can form new neuro-pathways from a high-fat diet, regular exercise and brain stimulating activities--something scientists believed to be impossible previously.

Takeaway: regularly practice your own “Marshmellow Tests.” If there is something you do daily that is compulsive and maybe a little self-destructive, play with it.By this I mean turn it into a game. Start by recognizing triggers. My trigger was, after a night on the town, seeing a garage and purchasing five pieman's pies (not very Bulletproof).

What did I do? In my intoxicated state, I started taking a different route home so I would not stimulate the trigger.

For you, It may be getting a doughnut every time you enter the petrol station or even compulsively checking your cell phone for some instant social gratificiation. Self-control is a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets. 

5. Quiet

by Susan Cane

Subtitle: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking

Quiet was one of those random purchases from the book store that unexpectedly turned out to be solid gold. It has taught me that we need introverts. In a way, it has showed me where I stand on the intro-extrovert scale.

Takeaway: you can be dominant introvert (especially in high stakes business meeting), even if you're a shy introvert.

Susan shares a great story of her navigating a meeting in a forthright fashion whilst remaining calm and collected. As Rorke Denver said "Calm is Contagious"--so learn to be a cool, collected, calm cucumber my friend.

We have become accustomed to believing that to get things done, we need to shout and scream. I’ve got no time for assholes who can’t listen properly before making a judgement--I'm usually that asshole. But, it's something I conciously work on.

6. Tools of Titans

by Tim Ferriss

Subtitle: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-class Performers

This is exactly that, a Titan of a book weighing in at around 600 pages. The thing I love about Tools of Titans, it's like a modern-age Bible.

Whilst sipping your morning Bulletproof Coffee, you can open it up to a random page to absorb some valuable motivation for the day. It is one of those books, I suspect, that will be on my coffee table until the day I die. Its evergreen, and Tim Ferriss is undoubtedly my hero. 

Takeaway: There are many, many lessons I've learn't and continue to learn from Tools of Titans. Undoubtedly, this book should be on every 25-something year old's bookshelf.

The best takeaway I can think of is Instead of focusing on your goals—focus on your fears instead. This is called Fear-setting. I fucking love this. Tim recently did a TED talk on fear-setting. It creates one of those "aha" moments when you do Fear-setting. it's profoundly powerful doing exercises like this once per quarter—it may even change your life.

As you can see, I’m a huge non-fiction fan--although, I do dabble in fiction at night to help me sleep.

I’m currently reading Dune, recommended by a number of the icons in Tools of Titans. Considering I generally dislike (probably due to my inner voice struggling to keep up) vast amounts of narrative, It’s fantastic so far.

I gave up reading Game of Thrones because while reading it, all I was doing was replaying in my head what I’ve already seen a dozen times whilst watching the series.

I sincerely urge you to read, grow and live. I hope you purchase at least one of these books and get back to me on what you think.