I’ve read over 100 business books, courtesy of ignoring homework and summers uninterrupted by school. Most business books begin to blur together after a while, because the concepts which they rely upon are, for the most part, the same. Theoretically, by reading any combination of business or self-help books with a discerning eye, you can pick up the key ideas for our generation. This series of posts will cover the books I’ve found most clearly illuminate those key ideas.
I’ve arranged the most useful books into a framework similar to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which distinguishes between habits of Independence and habits of Interdependence. It is exactly what it seems: Habits of Independence involve self-mastery, while habits of Interdependence involve success within an organization.
Stephen Covey’s classic is missing one element, though – being so focused on habits of individuals, it forgoes a bigger picture view that I found in other resources. So, to paraphrase Mr. Covey’s imperatives and add one of my own, I divided these resources into three categories, each of which I’ll cover in its own post:
Make sure to sign up for updates at the end of the post to get the series as they come.
These are the three books I found the most helpful for developing a mindset of changing the world for the better, whether it’s your personal life, your business or organization, or literally tackling a world problem.
Disclosure: The links provided are Amazon Affiliate links. If you do decide to purchase through them, I receive a percentage of the revenue.
Top 3 Books for Individual Independence
This is a classic, and for good reason. As advertised, it goes over seven simple, yet profound habits that will change your life for the better, if applied. Again, while they are simple concepts, it’s remarkable how easy it is to forget those steps when starting any new venture. I found Habits 4 and 5 the most shocking and useful:
- Habit 4: Win Win Solutions (or nothing at all)
- Habit 5: Seek first to Understand, Then to be Understood
A quick rundown of the 7 Habits can be found on Wikipedia for those who don’t want to buy the book or can’t afford it. Even so, you can find a copy at your local library or bookstore and leaf through it. It is worth writing the habits down on a piece of paper and carrying it with you until they are ingrained in your mind.
Give it a try.
Getting Things Done is another classic, though I found it to be more of an actual toolkit than a mental toolkit. In it, David Allen describes a state of productivity Zen that can be achieved by having everything accounted for and in its proper place, in an exterior, trustworthy system. The most important concepts I got out of GTD were:
- Commitments, problems, and ideas that are not written down or otherwise recorded negatively affect your energy and thus, your performance.
- These thoughts must be placed into storage and reminder systems that are utterly reliable and thus not a source of worry in themselves.
- Every project should have a “Next Action” that is actionable and explicit. “Meet with Mark” becomes “Call Mark to confirm meeting time and location”
David goes on to describe many systems that he uses to remain productive. After trying many of them, I finally heeded his advice to read the book more like a toolkit or a cookbook than a bible, and cherry picked the systems I liked.
This website covers almost everything in a thorough manner, but again, this book is well worth reading through. If we were computers, we could read something once and follow it to the letter, but we’re human. It sometimes takes a few hundred pages to hammer the thought in just right.
There is one driving thought behind all of Timothy Ferriss’s works, and that is the Pareto Principle:
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
The 4-Hour Workweek applies that to concept to income. How can you best use your limited time on Earth, and how can you create disproportionate cashflow with almost insignificant behavioral changes?
There is such a significant body of tools and methods in this book that it is almost impossible to summarize other than what I have already said. Suffice to say that it is a compelling read.
So now you know how to achieve any goal and why it matters ( 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) as well as what to do at the right time and the right place (Getting Things Done). Furthermore, you should know that almost anything is possible (The 4-Hour Workweek).
In the next post, I’ll cover books I found useful for Organizations.
Questions? Comments? Did I leave out a book, or should I take one off the list? Comments are love, so leave a comment! And don’t forget to sign up for updates by email.