She told me to turn off the light.
It was 8pm and it was time to sleep according to the adult’s house rules. These were non-negotiable. My desire and passion for reading that I had discovered after mastering “the cat sat on the mat” sentence at the age of five, made this a cruel and arbitrary time.
And a seven year old’s passionate response…
…”But I want to keep reading“.
Despite protestations and mumblings, the light switch was flicked to the off position. First battle lost. The adults (sometimes referred to as my parents) had all the fun. But they didn’t count on my patience that was driven by an inherited trait of passionate persistence.
As the house went silent I grabbed my bedside lamp and positioned it under the bedcovers so that an orbiting spy satellite would have trouble knowing what I was doing. Parents score zero and child chalks up a win.
This was the start of a reading habit that has sometimes bordered on obsessive.
Glimpses of genius
Inspirational books are your access to the best minds in the world. From creativity, to business and marketing and beyond. They distill the essence of what often is a life of learning into a few pages. It is where you will discover ideas, tactics and habits that are the seeds to success.
A great book is one that reveals the ideas with clarity. They expose the genius but don’t hide it in dross and words that don’t matter. Often the best books are the short books.
It’s also what you do with those concepts that will define you.
Self publishing doesn’t need permission
Some of us may want to not just read but write. Today you do not need to beg for permission to publish a book. You can write it in a word document, send it to your designer (that you found on Freelancer) to create a great looking cover and then upload it to Amazon.
You are now an author!
New age writers and authors are taking advantage of that and building a lifestyle and businesses based on their creative output.
But you must keep in mind that becoming a good or even a great writer requires practice and also that means reading and more reading. Steven King said that “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Great ideas do not emerge from a vacuum.
It’s a new age and you need to reinvent yourself
In an age of video, multimedia and digital innovation the book and the business landscape has evolved. You can read books on tablets, book readers and even your smart phone. You can gain ideas that were made public just a few seconds after the author hit the publish button on their blog.
In a digital age that changes every day, the role of books, blog posts and self-education are more vital than ever. We cannot rely on just the wisdom of the last century or even a decade that has just passed. We need to continue to hunt down the new ideas and innovations that are driving an ever changing world.
Here are some inspiring books to read that are woven into my creativity, business and marketing habits.
1. Elon Musk: Tesla SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
In this book, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world.
Vance spent over 40 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, and to characterize a man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation while making plenty of enemies along the way.
My key lessons from this book are the three vital ingredients that all successful people have. An appetite for hard work, passion and a higher purpose that is not about money. It’s what you need if you want to change to world or make a dent in the universe.
Sorry…I forgot one other lesson. Dare to dream big.
2. The One Thing
This inspirational book by Gary Keller reveals the power of focusing on your “one thing”. His New York Times bestselling books have sold more than 2 million copies.
He also reveals the “One” thing that made Keller Williams Realty, Inc., one of the largest real estate companies in the world. What was that? It was writing a book that positioned him and his company as the authority in real estate in the USA.
In The ONE Thing, you’ll also learn productivity tips such as:
- Cut through the clutter
- Achieve better results in less time
- Build momentum toward your goal
- Dial down the stress
3. Steal like an an Artist
Creativity and genius is sometimes thought of as being that one insight or flash of inspiration that appears from nowhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In this this very insightful book by Austin Kleon explains that you don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself.
That’s the message from Austin, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
4. Now, Discover Your Strengths
The biggest challenge for all of us is discovering what your mission on this planet is. That is often the journey of a lifetime.
It also means working on your strengths but many of us don’t know what they are.
Or how to find them.
Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents, by our teachers, by our managers, and by psychology’s fascination with pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected.
Marcus Buckingham, (who was also coauthor of the national bestseller First, Break All the Rules), and Donald O. Clifton, have created a revolutionary program to help readers identify their talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy consistent, near-perfect performance. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths.
This book comes with free access to the web based “Strength Finder Test” that you will find very revealing. I know I did.
5. The Lean Startup: How Relentless Change Creates Radically Successful Businesses
The digital age has turned almost every aspect of our world on its head. This extends to our personal lives and how we do business.
Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. The author Eric Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
I found this a great book to challenge my thinking and grow my business.
6. Insanely Simple: The Obsession that Drives Apple’s Success
This book by Ken Seagall caught my attention after reading Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson while travelling by train through Italy. After that 630 page exposure to the mind of a genius, I became a bit of a Steve Jobs fanboy. So finding out more about the person that has redefined our world was tempting.
To Steve Jobs, simplicity was a religion. It was also a weapon. Simplicity isn’t just a design principle at Apple—it’s a value that permeates every level of the organization. The obsession with simplicity is what separates Apple from other technology companies. It’s what helped Apple recover from near death in 1997 to become the most valuable company on Earth in 2011.
What does this book cover?
- Think Minimal: Distilling choices to a minimum brings clarity to a company and its customers—as Jobs proved when he replaced over twenty product models with a lineup of four.
- Think Small: Swearing allegiance to the concept of “small groups of smart people” raises both morale and productivity.
- Think Motion: Keeping project teams in constant motion focuses creative thinking on well-defined goals and minimizes distractions.
- Think Iconic: Using a simple, powerful image to symbolize the benefit of a product or idea creates a deeper impression in the minds of customers.
7. Do the Work
This short but powerful and inspiring book by Steven Pressfield was revealing about a problem that many of us have. Having a lot of great ideas but not doing the work. This book led to me adopting the Mantra “Done is better than perfect”.
It also helps answer questions such as:
- Could you be getting in your way of producing great work?
- Have you started a project but never finished?
- Would you like to do work that matters, but don’t know where to start?
So the answer is Do the Work, a manifesto by bestselling author Steven Pressfield, that will show you that it’s not about better ideas, it’s about actually doing the work. Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door.
Over to you
Books are great and reading them is fun. You can gain many great ideas that are inspiring, motivating and lead to many conversations.
But if you don’t take the key lessons and start the work then nothing happens. I hope this list of the best inspirational books will help you get started.
Over to you.