10 Books That Inspired me to Change my Life

After two rough drafts of this exercise today I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy making lists. For some reason, my mind feels the need to explain things in great amounts of detail rather than short summaries. So instead of going crazy and overthinking this entire post, I’ve decided to make a list of the top 10 books that inspired exponential change and rapid growth in my life.

“The man who does not read good books have no advantage over the man who does not read” – Mark Twain

Books have helped educate me on becoming better in the critical areas of my life; son, brother, lover, communicator, employee, and overall contributor to humanity. I say this because we all have a past. For me, I lost a lot of confidence when I made a big mistake months ago now. I’ve since made a substantial change in my daily routine and activities. I realize now how lucky I am to be alive and how much greatness I have to contribute back to society. When I came to the realization of the skills, knowledge, and capability I had is when I changed my habits. I woke up and said I no longer want to be apart of the 99%. I want to be apart of the 1% that values giving over receiving. I desire to lead by example and be remembered for what I did right not what I did wrong. It’s easy to be negative, complain, and talk about what is wrong in your life or the world around you. I’ve committed myself to no longer blaming anyone else in my life for downfalls except myself. To no longer thinking about what is wrong in my life and focusing on what is right. I’ve taken action to change the course of my life and want to share what I’ve learned with you.

Here are 10 books that I’ve read this year that changed my perspective on life and redirected my future. They have all been read in the past 3 months. Check out the links for details and more.

1) “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek

Why? I consider this the most simple yet powerful question known to man. The ability to ask yourself why and understand the importance of your purpose. Simon Sinek does an incredible job of explaining his message of “how great leaders inspire everyone to take action”. I received this book from a previous employer in the midst of an early twenties career change. I picked it up and finished it within a week.  It changed my life. I began asking myself difficult questions and working to answer them to help determine my purpose in life. My why. This question can change the course of your life, career, family and more. Become crystal clear on your why. Why do you want that job? Why do you need to go on vacation? Why do you want that promotion? Why do you want more money? Why did you choose this career? If you keep digging around your ‘why’ you’ll surely find your ‘how’ and your ‘what’ right around the corner. Check out a review I did of his book in more detail here.

“And it’s those who start with why, that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” – Simon Sinek

2) “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

It is rare to not come across this book high on the list of some of the worlds most successful people. I’m glad to be apart of that list and believe that it is one of the most inspirational books today. It has inspired me to change how I dealt with other people. I now make a conscious and consistent effort (even when I’m not feeling it) to be as genuinely interested in the lives of other people as possible. Here is what I’ve personally used this book for:

  • Sincerity and appreciation
  • Smiling, even when I’m not feeling it
  • Remembering and using other people’s names. Everyone loves this.
  • Genuinely listening to others and understanding their story.
  • Admitting when I am wrong.

For a more complete list of what this book can inspire in you, check out this simple summary on Wikipedia.

“Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving” – Dale Carnegie

3) “How Successful People Think” by John C. Maxwell

This book comes everywhere with me. I have the print copy and am in the middle of a second reading. It is remarkable how much a second reading can deepen your understanding of a book. The second reading for me is the application of the material. First is understanding, then the application. This time I’m annotating the book and asking myself questions of each of the different thinking styles. If you haven’t read this one yet I can promise it will be worth it. Here are John C. Maxwells’ “Final Thoughts” towards the end that may inspire you to give it a chance:

  • Everything begins with a thought
  • What we think determines who we are. Who we are, determines what we do
  • Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy
  • People who go to the top think differently than others
  • We can change the way we think

You will not regret reading this short but incredibly insightful book. Mine never leaves my side.

Successful people…focus on the rewards of success: Learning from their mistakes and thinking about how they can improve themselves and their situations.” – John C. Maxwell

4) “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren

Go read this book. I don’t even want to summarize it. The title explains it all. If you think you know how to read, you’re wrong. If you haven’t read this book you are wrong. It may be the single book that has given me the ability to learn and understand things I read better than ever before. This includes articles, magazines, books, periodicals, news, social media, and more. If you are looking to start a new habit of reading, look no further and start here. It is a simple book that will have a profound impact on your ability to understand the meaning of books at a deeper level.

“Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men” – Mortimer Adler

5) “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

I have these 7 habits highlighted on the vision board in my office. For anyone who has NOT yet read this book, it is vitally important to understand that these habits are divided into two sections: independent and interdependent, and a third called ‘sharpening the saw’. As Covey explains, personal victory comes before public victory. For us to serve others, we must be capable of best serving ourselves. So work on yourself; Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. Once you have a foundation of yourself you can begin incorporating some other disciplines impacting the lives of others. This is another timeless book that has changed the lives of many successors over the years.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

6) “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn

“OF COURSE” this book is on my list. I have Jim Rohn’s words echoing in my ears each and every day. If you want to change your life, design your future and pursue your dreams this is a must read/listen. His recordings are powerful and will help you reassess your life and establish clarity through disciplining your life, changing your habits, setting goals and more.

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better” – Jim Rohn

7) “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Life is all habit. The book incorporates an extensive amount of research and science backed studies to explain how habits run our lives. At the core of every habit is something called the ‘the habit loop, explains MIT Researchers. It consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward. He explains many scenarios proving this research correct and will certainly get you thinking about your daily routine and habits that you have now and are probably unaware of. Any habit can change as Duhigg explains here. This process starts by identifying the routine of your habit, finding your rewards and experimenting with new ones, isolating the cue of your habit and having a plan when that cue occurs. Trust him over me, but it will work.

“More than 40% of the actions people perform each day, aren’t actual decisions, but habits” – The Power of Habit

8) “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

What is 1×1? 2. What is 2×2? 4. What is 10×10? 100. The message I received from the compound effect is this. Similar to interest compounding daily, weekly, monthly or annually, our habits and disciplines do the same. If we treat our bodies poorly, the health risks will compound over time leading to the negative results. Instead, if we exercise daily and eat healthily, the health benefits will compound over time leading to longevity and a better quality life. It is important to know that the Compound Effect works both ways. It is a great extension from “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn to help set goals and design your life. To assess your surroundings and who is affecting your life. You are one discipline or decision away from a different life. Take control of future and change your life.

Check out Darren Daily for his daily mentoring emails which will keep you inspired and focused on your purpose each day!

“The accomplishment of any goal is the progressive accumulation, or compound effect, of small steps taken consistently over time” – Darren Hardy

9) “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins

Here is my review of her book I did recently. Mel Robbins does an incredible job with her audio book on this one. A very personal, comforting tone throughout. She explains how decisions are made within five seconds and how this rule or ‘tool’ as she refers has changed her life and the lives of many others. Take a look and if you struggle with decision making or simply getting out bed in the morning, her tool will help you make those critical decisions to changing your life. One small 5-second decision at a time.

“If you only ever did the things you don’t to do, you’d have everything you’ve ever wanted” – Mel Robbins

10) “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Well, this book takes a different approach opposed to most of the books above. This book says f*ck positivity, and stop giving a f*ck. Stop thinking that you need motivation and positive thinking to lead a successful life. This is not the case. Mark explains how so many of us focus so much on being happy, that we give too many f*cks about being happy, only to never end up happy. Maybe that is true? Regardless this book sheds some great insight into reality and for someone going through extensive personal development was a great wake up call to stop giving a f*ck. In reality, it is true. We need to stop creating fear while worrying about what other people may say or do. We spend so much of our time over-thinking our lives that we never end of taking action. I decided that I was going to stop giving a f*ck about that and live my life. This blog is a start, right?

“To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action” – Mark Manson

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!

Innovate Adapt or Die

InnovationYou want to change the world? Recognize the fact that innovation does not exist without the interaction of people. You want to inspire the world and surround yourself with leaders and create a way to approach them in a way that they cannot say no. Provide them the help they did not know was needed or existed. Is there a reason that our society is lopsided with 1% of people having the greatest wealth? Are they happy? Maybe they are, but to me, I find the inspiration in the journey towards personal success. It’s only when personal victories are met that we can begin to strive toward successful interdependence. If you want to be in a position to innovate, inspire and change the world then do it! Put words to your mission in life and begin establishing action items to fulfill your purpose… Two books that dramatically impacted my life are “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen Covey, and “How Successful People Think”, by John C. Maxwell. There were many crucial takeaways for me from these books, including how to understand and apply new information into my life. One, you CAN change your thinking. Big picture thinking is step number one. To conceptualize your life and define your vision is an absolute must but this does not come easy. The ability to do so will then lead to other ways to think differently, this includes focused thinking, creative thinking, reflective thinking, possibility thinking and more. The difficulty was in changing the way my brain thought about almost every aspect of my life. I had disciplines and habits that were deeply rooted from childhood. It was time to change these habits once and for all. I did this through continual and repeated testing and learning of each different mode of thinking to put these concepts into action. I will be doing this for the rest of my life intermittently or until I find true success and feel confident in my mission in life.

Incorporating the habits of effective people Stephen Covey describes changed my life, “Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first” being the first three. These habits, in particular, helped me evaluate what I valued most deeply. I learned how to focus on doing what is truly important over everything else. I would recommend clearly writing, revising and defining your personal mission/vision in life whenever you feel it in your gut that it is time to change. Write it down and speak from the heart when writing it. You may realize your time and effort each day may be spent towards actions that contribute little to your personal bottom line. Your success in the one life you have. These actions may be preventing you from taking yourself to the next level and to become better at what you’re already great at. Are you an artist? In real estate? An investor? A recruiter? Or maybe you’re a mountaineer. It does not matter. What matters is that you are in control of your life and that each and every decision you make reflects your character and how you are viewed by society. I’m not saying to act as others would expect, act in a way that truly reflects who you are and what makes you uniquely valuable in this world. This is not easy, but with discipline and a desire to change you can achieve great success. As Nicholas Sparks said, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that.”

As I divulge into lifelong personal development, I understand this journey will be forever demanding. We all have a unique strength that when enhanced will change the world. To me, the greatest achievement in one’s life is to become increasingly more useful to the world. I strive to be the 1%. The 1% that never back down from a challenge to be the best at who they are. If you feel you need more direction and clarity to your vision, read “How Successful People Think”. Use this book to help promote personal growth and understanding of your own journey and path in life. I’d then recommend “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to expand your mind and apply the new ways of thinking about life. There is no such thing as coincidence. To me, it is merely a result of wise decisions over and over again.