The people you admire are sometimes a reflection of your aspirations.
Such was the case when early in my adult working life when the CEO of the company, who was revered by all for his unrivaled business acumen as well as his profound insights on a seemingly endless range of non-business topics, stepped into an office where I and two other men (also just starting their careers) were meeting and said the following after a bit of small talk:
“I bet you guys think I’m pretty smart don’t you?”
Mind you, the three of us had had many conversations where we marveled at how smart we thought he was so it was kind of funny to hear him say it. I guess there must have been times when we behaved more like fans than employees.
Anyway, we quickly nodded yes and he followed up by asking the following:
“Do you want to know how I got that way?”
We all said yes, again, and his reply was this:
“I read a lot. I read books. I read newspapers. I read magazines. I just read all the time.”
I don’t know if the other two guys took to heart the “secret” that had been shared with us, but I did and I believe it has made a huge difference in my life.
Incidentally, that former CEO, who is now one of my dearest friends, recommended lots of books over the years. Some were business-related and others were not.
Knowing imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I offer and recommend the following very quick reads to you to get your new year started:
The Precious Present - This was one of the first books he recommended to us. Its wisdom is timeless. (The next two are not among the books he recommended. This is where the imitation comes in.)
The Energy Bus:10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy - The title pretty much tells you what you're in for. If you read this one I guarantee you'll pass it on to at least one person.
The Alchemist - This is the longest of the three but I bet you won't notice that or won't care.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
The very first book he recommended (actually he gave me his copy when he was done reading it) was the most impactful. It was called Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. It takes a little longer to read but it is well worth it. If you're only going to read one of the four mentioned here, I'd pick this one.
What's Your Motivation?
The author of the WSJ Best Selling book, Ultralearning, Scott Young, recently wrote a thought-provoking article called "The Paradox of Effort". It's a brief but fascinating look at motivation and shortcomings. The last few paragraphs are key and have been excerpted below:
"You have the ability to put in far more effort into things than you normally do. The reason you don’t is that, most of the time, a full effort isn’t necessary.
We think that a full effort will be draining, that we ought to save our energy for when we really need it. Yet, more often than not, the opposite is the case. When we really use our full effort toward a central concern that matters deeply to us, we feel more energized — not less.
The paradox is that life is often easiest when it is hardest. When you’re working on a pursuit that may fail if you don’t take it seriously, you find the energy to take it seriously. And, in doing so, you find the other nagging things in life that needed effort weren’t so hard either.
The key is to find the one thing that will necessitate all the rest."
Just A Thought
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” - Chinese Proverb