Knowledge is truly the foundation of our power in life. However, if you don’t learn to apply it, it’s for nothing. My lifelong love of reading has shaped how I approach things and given me a greater perspective on the world. It’s easy to get lost in the comfort of our own realities and personal beliefs. In fact, that’s one of the very things that can hold us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves. As 2020 took an uncertain turn, I leaned on the power of reading to learn how to apply my knowledge to life. I even started my Audible subscription as a promise to myself to read 8-10 titles a month. Some titles were new to me, and others were old favorites I needed to reread. Are you feeling lost or confused? I know exactly how you feel. These are books that will teach you how to win at life, regardless of your starting point.
How Do You Make Time?
I’m sure by my previous statement, you’re likely thinking to yourself that 8-10 a month is nuts. You’re not alone. I honestly thought I’d fail at it. It wasn’t until I started replacing music with audiobooks while cleaning on weekends, showering, or running that I knew it was a lie. Granted, I’ve always been a speed reader. What I love about the audiobook version is the fact that I can put it in my sweet spot of 1.6x speed. With meatier subjects, I set it to 1.3x. Is reading a chore to you? Put it in audio form. Relisten to them. You’ll absorb it better, and find more time to pick it up. So, turn off Netflix/scrolling your social feed. Those aren’t getting you anywhere toward your life goals.
I have a small arsenal of classics that always kick me in the ass when I need it. Rereading titles also help you build greater clarity on the subject at hand. How often have you perfectly executed tips you read in books after the first try? I’m willing to bet it’s never.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck
Fear. While as a Christian I know it’s of the enemy, it’s still a common struggle for me at times. It can often get the better of me in situations. However, what you think always becomes your reality. Has someone told you that you couldn’t make it? That you’d fail? Pick up this title to remind you exactly who you are, and how to not care what people think of you.
How To Own Your Own Mind
I’ll be honest, I’ve let my own mind get the better of me in tough situations. It’s a constant battle to stand strong. I’m willing to bet you can relate too. It’s not easy to know how to get out of it. A few years ago in a very dark time in my life, I knew what I needed to do, but not how. This book is a blueprint on how to apply this knowledge directly. I highly recommend you start with this one first.
Women & Money
THIS BOOK. A gift from my parents back in 2010, this set me up for success as an adult, and for that I am thankful. Early on, I set myself up to take control of my financial future by investing. Sure, today I may be a bit cash poor. I was in my early twenties too, and even had some stumbles in debt. However, I have a full safety net of a 401k, a Roth IRA, and several investment accounts I pay into every year. It’s never too late to start. This book is easy to understand and gives you actionable steps on how to do just that.
Tools of Titans
I urge everyone to read this, regardless of whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or corporate leader, or neither. This is a book I often refer back to when situations get tough. In 2016, it gave me new insight into leadership beyond my military experience. The best part? It teaches you how to stay strong, how to create habits that will breed success, and how to be a leader in your own life. It also gives you actionable steps on how to do it. It’s not another self-help “success story” that leaves you even more confused.
Think and Grow Rich
If you think money is the enemy, I want you to read this. Here’s the deal: no matter what you want to do in life, it requires money. Do you want to give back? You need money. Why not build wealth to use it for the greater good in your own life or another’s? This book will help you shift your mindset to do just that. This is a great book to read after you read the author’s other book: “How To Own Your Own Mind.” Things just click.
Ever wonder what it is about Navy SEALs that make them so unstoppable? This book helps you understand and apply the same unwavering spirit to your own day to day tasks. As a former Marine officer, it’s a book that has helped me hone my own personal leadership skills to be the best leader I can to my subordinates. If courage is difficult for you, I urge you to read this. Do you feel your team at work holds back its own success? Read this and apply it.
Never Split The Difference
While not entirely military, this is another excellent read on how to apply similar concepts to influence the world around you. Learn the art of negotiation in this book from a former FBI interrogator. This was a book I picked up years ago when I started a career in sales. Knowing nothing about sales, this book gave me powerful insight into how people think, and what I could do to persuade them. This also applies to your personal life. Do you have trouble getting others to understand your point of view? Do you feel lost on how to advocate for yourself in asking for a promotion? This book will open your eyes to exactly where you’re going wrong, and what to do instead.
How To Win Friends & Influence People in the Digital Age
You’re likely familiar with the original title. However, it’s so old, it’s hard to see how to apply it in the current age of social media and digital marketing. I didn’t really grasp the concepts with the original, this one made all the difference.
I have 2020 to thank for the time I gained to dive into the titles below. Some have been on my to-do list for years. A few were introduced to me through my business school reading list this year as well. Whether you struggle with making ends meet, anxiety/triggers, or depression, these books deliver. I really learned how to heal some leftover social trauma from years ago and gain a better perspective on my own thoughts and how our brains work.
Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter
This book is hands down one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read. All my life, I was a book smart person but lacked street smarts. It finally bit me in the ass in my early 30’s. It wasn’t until reading this book did it all click. I admire Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) for his ability to truly understand and see the big picture in life and business. He teaches you exactly how to see the writing on the wall and adapt and overcome. How to not sell yourself short, EVER. I haven’t been this moved by a book since my parents had me read Michael Jordan’s “I Can’t Accept Not Trying” as a child. No matter where you are in your life, you can overcome hardship and thrive. You are not a victim. If you read nothing else on this list, read this one.
This is such a powerful read, especially for women. Do you struggle with reading people and situations? I know I have before. Written by a female former secret service agent, you’ll learn first hand how to do exactly that. I picked this book up first in March with my Audible account, which sent me down the rabbit hole to the rest of these recommendations.
The Lost Secret
In this book, you’ll read the unpublished chapters of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. I’ll admit, the first book didn’t really click until I read this one. It’s also written from a woman’s perspective, making it even more powerful. Pick this up after you finish the original book, and everything will fall into place in your mind.
You’re Not Enough, and That’s Okay
This one is for all my Christians out there. Do you struggle with the concept of “self-love” that’s shoved down our throats every day? I have. It didn’t dawn on me until I read this book that we have it all wrong. Looking back on my stumbles in life, it all made sense. We are nothing without God in our lives. I had to be knocked down hard enough to finally get that. No amount of self-love will help you out of your darkest moments. Sure, this book will spit in your eye. Honestly, I hope it does. Parts of it did to me. It’s an uncomfortable read that will oddly leave you feeling secure and free in the end.
Tribe of Mentors
My MBA cohort was assigned this book. What makes this book great is the ability to read it in bite-sized chunks. Every chapter is different, with advice from a different notable figure. It’s a second title by the same author of Tools of Titans. Do you want to ask celebrities questions on how to find the same success? You don’t have to. This book does it for you.
Can’t Hurt Me
This is another powerful account of leadership and life from a Navy SEAL. It will teach you exactly how to master your own mind in tough situations. Our mind is the most powerful tool we have to overcome adversity. The author understands your starting point. He was depressed, overweight, and defied all odds to master himself and succeed. No excuses. Learn to live the life you dream of with actionable steps on how to get there.
The Partnership Charter
This book was recommended to me by my MBA curriculum. While it is a business book on how to form better/fix partnerships in business, I gained another perspective. It can totally be applied to your own personal relationships. Apply these principles to broken relationships, marriages, and beyond.
Unfuck Your Brain
Fixing your mindset is the hardest part of growth. It’s so easy to get stuck in what “we KNOW” vs. what actually is. This book takes a science-based approach to understand our minds, and how to fix them. Don’t give up on your dreams because of continued failures. It’s likely your mind that can turn it all around.
The Biggest Bluff
This author tried her hand at becoming a poker champion to better understand herself. This book blew my mind in so many ways. I struggle with this game myself. I assumed it was because I wasn’t street smart. This gave me valuable perspective into removing all emotion from certain situations, and what it meant to really trust my instinct. Apply the techniques of the game to your own life, even if you suck right now.