I think if you want to be a leader in your field you need to read. Nothings beats books for getting access to the best business thought leaders for a small financial investment.
Because of that, I read around sixty books a year, with about forty-five of them being focused on business or personal improvement.
Here are the ten best books I read in 2016. I’ve listed my favorite book first, but the remaining books are listed in no particular order.
When people ask me what the one book I’d recommend to them is, I now say How to Read a Book. Yes this is a book about reading books, which is fairly meta. The thing is, that even if you only make it through the first few chapters, you’ll still get more out of everything you read.
I’ve been reading many, many books a year for many years now, and with the new knowledge I have about how to read effectively, I’m going back to many of the books I’ve read before to get more out of them.
This is not an easy read, so give it time and take notes.
Ever want a fairly straightforward set of questions you can use to make every interaction with friends and employees better?
Ever want to go deeper with your relationships so you make others feel appreciated?
Ever want your employees to feel like every conversation with you is valuable because they come out of it as better people who can do their jobs better?
Then read The Coaching Habit. The 7 Essential Questions provided are going to help you achieve those things you want.
3. Deep Work
I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about all the distractions that surround you. It’s the text messages that keep coming in or the emails that never stop.
It’s the compulsion to check Facebook or Instagram on your phone when you should be doing anything but checking in on those things.
It’s these games that are designed to get you to pay just a little bit more money for them and give them just a bit more attention.
This zone of distraction is where so many of us live and if you want to get truly amazing work done, you should be as far away from it as you can be.
If you’re looking for clear strategies to get into that zone of Deep Work then you should be reading this great book by Cal Newport.
4. The Shallows
This is one of the books referenced in Deep Work and it starts with the following assumption.
In the end, we come to pretend that the technology itself doesn’t matter. It’s how we use it that matters, we tell ourselves. The implication, comforting in its hubris, is that we’re in control. The technology is just a tool, inert until we pick it up and inert again once we set it aside. – The Shallows
Where Newport gives you practical steps in Deep Work, The Shallows is more about framing the conversation. If you’re interested in digging into why we are distracted and the role technology plays in it, read this.
5. Ego is the Enemy
Are you ever worried that your ego is getting away from you? Sure you’re good at your job and all, but are you thinking of yourself as something over and above special?
Is that special snowflake feeling getting in the way of you getting real work done?
It’s always nice to be made to feel special or empowered or inspired. But that’s not the aim of this book. Instead, I have tried to arrange these pages so that you might end in the same place I did when I finished writing it: that is, you will think less of yourself. I hope you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.
Ego is the Enemy reframes our thoughts so that we can accomplish those big goals we have.
6. The Big Leap
Have you ever wondered why great things start to happen and then … bam it all goes to hell in a hand basket? Maybe you’ve hit your upper limit challenge.
The Upper Limit Problem is our universal human tendency to sabotage ourselves when we have exceeded the artificial upper limit we have placed on ourselves.
The Big Leap is a great little book about how to overcome your upper limit challenge so that you can keep going to to higher levels of success.
One of the times I feel happiest about what my work lets me accomplish is when I can give someone around me a gift. Maybe it’s the best baby carrier I found for a new parent, or an AeroPress because…coffee is life.
You should be using gifts in your business as well. Even if it’s as simple as a hand written card.
There’s a life-changing advantage to treating people well and developing an attitude of gratitude — the added bonus comes from seeing it positively impact your business’s bottom line.
The truth is that almost no one in our digital age is going to take the time to write a card by hand, so be the exception. Read Giftology for way more ideas about how you can use gifts to make your clients happier and win more work.
8. The Happiness Advantage
I assume you’re reading my site because you want to be successful. No, success for you may not mean a huge house with three indoor swimming pools, and ten cars in the garage, but maybe you’d like to just have a constant flow of clients.
If you have that ‘success’ you’ll be happy…right?
If you work hard, you will become successful, and once you become successful, then you’ll be happy. This pattern of belief explains what most often motivates us in life. We think: If I just get that raise, or hit that next sales target, I’ll be happy. If I can just get that next good grade, I’ll be happy. If I lose that five pounds, I’ll be happy. Success first, happiness second.
The Happiness Advantage proposes this thinking is ass backwards. Almost everyone who’s gained the success they wanted was happy first. So read The Happiness Advantage to see how you can work on being happy so the door to success is open.
9. The Obstacle is the Way
I’m sure you’d like an easy life. One where you put out a call for clients and they are stampeding your door. One where your kids sit like angels at dinner and say please and thank you. One where those same angelic kids don’t touch anything at the store.
It sounds wonderful to me as well, but it’s never going to happen. In fact, while it sounds great, I’d never want that life, because it’s the trials and troubles in life that help us grow into the amazing people we are.
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Learning to work through these obstacles is the focus of The Obstacle is the Way.
This book will share with you their collective wisdom in order to help you accomplish the very specific and increasingly urgent goal we all share: overcoming obstacles. Mental obstacles. Physical obstacles. Emotional obstacles. Perceived obstacles.
Using ancient Stoic wisdom, The Obstacle is the Way is going to help you…get over obstacles as they come your way.
Many of the books I’ve already talked about have much in common with this ancient work.
To read attentively — not to be satisfied with “just getting the gist of it.” – Meditations
We see the same ideas in How to Read a Book.
So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. What is done to me is ordained by nature, what I do by my own. – Meditations
See The Obstacle is the Way for ideas like above.
In fact, The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy are both heavily based on Stoic Philosophy and Meditations is one of the great works of the Stoic thinkers.
Meditations is a great set of bite-sized letters that will help you live a better life.
That’s it, the ten books that had the most effect on me in 2016. If you liked that look into my thinking on books then you should sign up for my newsletter. Expect an email five days a week and many of them will be thoughts pulled from the books I read.