How awesome would it be if you could absorb decades worth of knowledge and experience, from someone you admire and respect, in just a few hours? Well, this is exactly what you can do when you read a non-fiction book. When an author creates a non-fiction work, they have to distil a complex web of information from their brain into an understandable linear form, so that you can easily grasp what they are trying to communicate. It’s literally the fastest way to download the contents of someone else’s brain and anchor them into yours.
Reading and listening to books has certainly helped me shift my mindset, grow my business and understand the world around me a little better. The thing is, you don’t know what you don’t know. There’s so much information out there that you are totally unaware of right now, that, if you were to discover it, the impact on your life could be huge!
I was never really a massive fan of reading until I started my first online business. The timeless classic “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, was recommended to me, and since then I’ve read hundreds of books over the last 6 or 7 years. The books I’m about to share with have had a profound effect on the way I live my life. Hopefully, my summaries will inspire you to explore some new reading material!
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- Becoming Supernatural – How Common People are Doing The Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- Your Next Steps
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
This book draws upon the ancient wisdom of the Toltecs, who were thought to have inhabited what is now Mexico, thousands of years ago. The core premises of the book are that we have been domesticated from childhood, that most of the beliefs we have developed actually hurt us, and that we can disrupt these beliefs and replace them with a new set of agreements with ourselves. These are the Four Agreements:
1 – Be Impeccable With Your Word
This encompasses the words you use to speak to yourself, internally, how you describe the events in your life when telling your story, and how you communicate with others. Being impeccable with your word is being truthful and saying things that have a positive influence on yourself and others.
2 – Don’t Take Anything Personally
Everyone sees their own unique version of reality, a reality that is filtered and molded by their specific set of beliefs. Sometimes, when the beliefs of others don’t match with ours, conflict ensues. By not taking anything personally, we acknowledge the existence of their personal reality and realize that the views and opinions of others do not, necessarily, describe us accurately.
3 – Don’t Make Assumptions
For me, this agreement is absolutely critical. Assumptions were the biggest source of stress in my last relationship, and could easily have been avoided, looking at the relationship in hindsight. None of us can read minds. When we think we know what someone is trying to say, especially using text messages, we often are wrong. This is why it’s so important to give others the benefit of the doubt. If there is any ambiguity in your communications with others, assumptions about intent and meaning will start to creep in. This is why it is very important to use clarifying questions to figure out exactly what the other person is trying to say, and what they really mean.
4 – Always Do Your Best
While this may seem obvious, there are times when we succumb to laziness and we kick ourselves when we come to our senses, after wasting three hours binge-watching Netflix. This is your Internal Judge rearing its ugly head. To avoid subjecting yourself to this internal criticism, you must always do your best, whatever that might look like in your given situation. It’s also important to recognize that your best will vary from moment-to-moment. Nor should you strive to do better than your best, which could cause pain, injury and illness.
“Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive – the risk to be alive and express what we really are…”Don Miguel Ruiz
To listen to the audio version of “The Four Agreements”, click here to get your free credit on Audible.
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
This book was recommended to me by my younger brother, George, as a practical guide on how to think about, and solve, problems. Although I had been a fan of Stoic Philosophy for several years, I still had little idea of how to live by its key principles. This book seemed like the perfect introduction to solving the problems of my own life using the ancient Stoic wisdom, presented in a digestible way.
The book presents the process of overcoming obstacles by employing a discipline of three critical steps, which is how the book is structured. It begins with perception, how we look at our problems; followed by action, how to break down problems and come up with creative solutions; and, finally, will, which allows us to handle difficulties and cope with defeat.
1 – Perception
Perception is how we see and interpret the events around us, together with the meaning we attach to them. Perception can either be your best friend or worst enemy. Often our perceptions are clouded with emotion and judgement, which give us an inaccurate map of reality and the true nature of our problems. Instead, we must learn to see events objectively. When we view our problems from an objective, calm and rational perspective we can make better decisions about how to act.
The book stresses the idea of “Right Action,” which requires deliberation, boldness, and persistence. Courage and creative application of our own unique set of skills and talents are the tools we use to move ourselves forward. With each step and action we take, we dismantle the obstacles in front of us.
3 – Will
Adversity is bound to affect us all in the pursuit of our goals. Sometimes an obstacle is just too big to move. But this need not affect our internal will. We have the power to choose how we respond to a seemingly negative situation, turning it into a learning experience. Developing a strong will requires the cultivation of humility, resilience, and flexibility.
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”Ryan Holiday
To listen to the audio version of “The Obstacle Is The Way”, click here to get your free credit on Audible.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This classic was one of the first non-fiction books I ever read as a budding entrepreneur. Although it was written in 1937, the lessons and insights are still as relevant as ever, which is what makes this the best-selling how-to-succeed book of all time.
At first glance, you might find the title somewhat jarring, thinking that this is a book about getting financially “rich”. The term “rich” in the context of this book could mean any form of wealth like money, happiness, healthy relationships or business success.
The main premise of the book is that riches begin with a state of mind. Hill explains that thoughts can be transmuted into physical reality. What first happens in our minds, can one day manifest in the physical world.
The book covers 13 different success principles you can apply to manifest riches in your life. I’m not going to dive into all of them. Instead, I’ll highlight the most potent ones for you to try out in your own life.
1 – Thoughts Become Things
Everything starts with a thought. Look around you. I can almost guarantee that everything you can see originated in the mind of another human being. This book emphasizes that whatever you constantly think about, you will become. So, it stands to reason that, if you are always thinking negatively, you will manifest unpleasant situations in your life and vice versa.
2 – Burning Desire and a Definite Purpose
These two principles go hand-in-hand. The best way to control your thoughts is to set your mind on fire with a burning desire. A burning desire mindset is characterized by a focus on something you can’t stop thinking about, something that you’ll stop at nothing to accomplish. You then use this desire to achieve your one definite purpose.
3 – Faith & Belief
Next, we must have absolute faith that we can achieve our purpose. We must believe, unquestionably, that it’s going to happen. Only when we believe that something is possible, does it become possible. Having faith is knowing that it is already done. That on some level, what you want already exists, and you’re just in the process of bringing it into manifestation in the physical world.
4 – Create a Plan
When you want to get from point A to point B, is usually easier if you have a roadmap to plan your journey. You don’t have to stick to the exact route, but it’s the fastest way to get started working towards your goals. When you have absolute faith and a strong belief that your definite purpose is going to happen, Hill says, ”your subconscious mind will hand over the plan.” So don’t get too caught up on the “how-to.”Your plans will probably change as you make progress on your journey, but the end destination will not.
5 – The Power Of a Mastermind Group
“The Master Mind may be defined as: coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
Mastermind groups are extremely powerful because they give you access to a wider range of knowledge and experience than you would have on your own. When everyone in the mastermind group is supporting each other to achieve their definite purpose, the faith and belief of each individual member gets strengthened. Your mastermind group can also help you through the tough times, helping you dust yourself off after a setback and getting you quickly back to work.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”Napoleon Hill
To listen to the audio version of “Think and Grow Rich”, click here to get your free credit on Audible.
Becoming Supernatural – How Common People are Doing The Uncommon by Dr. Joe Dispenza
This has to be one of my all-time favorite books. It was recommended to me at a point in my life when I really needed to go inside myself and ask some big questions about the direction I was heading. Dr. Dispenza breaks down a wealth of information that merges quantum physics, the science of the heart, and experimental evidence from his workshops. The simple goal is that of helping us live vibrant lives based on new potentials and possibilities, rather than repeating the patterns of the past.
It’s impossible for me to summarize all the lessons in this book, so I’ll share my top takeaways in the hope that they inspire you to go read the book for yourself.
1 – All Possibilities Exist In The Eternal Present
The key theme of the book is that everything you want to create in your life already exists in The Field or Eternal Present as a frequency or vibration. We must move beyond our predictable future and use the tools of meditation and visualisation to tap into The Field.
2 – We Need to Raise Our Energy
To attract the experiences we want into our lives, we must raise our vibration or frequency by tuning into the emotions of love, compassion and gratitude. This allows us to feel as if we already have whatever it is that we want. This is the process of turning energy from The Field into physical matter in this reality.
3 – Specific Practices to Apply The Teachings
Dr. Dispenza doesn’t just give you the information and insights that will change how you view your life. He also offers practical meditations as tools to raise your vibration and balance your energy centers. I have personally downloaded many of the guided meditations on his website and use them every day. They have had a profound impact on how I feel and operate. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to start their day feeling filled with gratitude for the life they are creating.
“You have to feel empowered for your success to show up, you have to feel abundant for your wealth to find you. You have to feel gratitude to create the life that you want.”Dr. Joe Dispenza
To listen to the audio version of “Becoming Supernatural”, click here to get your free credit on Audible.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Although this book is about the science of productivity through the application of Deep Work, which is working in a state of high concentration on a single task, without distractions, there is a more profound message that the book delivers. It’s the idea that Deep Work is a highly valuable skill that you can apply to almost anything in your life, allowing you to make substantial progress. I personally think everyone should be working on some kind of skill using the practices of Deep Work, whether you’re playing the guitar, writing a book, or learning a new language.
The book is split into two parts. The first part establishes why Deep Work is more important today than ever before, together with the serious effects that social media and technology are having on our ability to focus our attention. The second part shows us how to actually do Deep Work, making it a consistent practice. I’m going to share with you the 4 Rules Of Deep work from the second section of the book.
Rule #1: Work Deeply
To work deeply, you must focus on a single task without any distractions, and with intense focus for long periods of time, usually for 1-3 hours. If you’ve never attempted this before, it’s going to be difficult and uncomfortable. Like with any skill worth learning, however, you’ll soon adapt and reap the benefits of going deep.
Rule #2: Embrace Boredom
Intense concentration is a skill that must be developed through practice. If you give in to distractions at the slightest hint of boredom, you’ll struggle to develop the type of intense concentration necessary for Deep Work. You need to get comfortable with sitting on the sofa or heading out for a walk without giving in to the distraction of checking your phone.
Rule #3: Quit Social Media
Social media is a prime example of what Cal Newport calls “shallow living.” Just because social media offers a little benefit, doesn’t mean it’s worth the time we give it. Facebook and Instagram have been engineered to keep your attention, but unfortunately, flicking through your news feed is going to make Deep Work much harder.
Rule #4: Drain the Shallows
If you want to do Deep Work then you must spend less time doing shallow work, which refers to answering emails, making phone calls, attending meetings, and other inevitable, but ultimately low-value, tasks. Some of these things are unavoidable and the book doesn’t advocate removing them completely from your life. Instead, prioritize your time for Deep Work and then batch all the shallow work together so you can plough through it in one session.
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”Cal Newport
To listen to the audio version of “Deep Work”, click here to get your free credit on Audible.
Your Next Steps
Now you have a pretty good idea of the key lessons from each of the books I’ve summarized here. But in order to benefit from these teachings, you must incorporate them into your life, consistently. One of the dangers of reading a whole heap of books is getting stuck in information-gathering mode,convincing yourself you are making progress by reading yet another book.
New information is great and I love reading books on a whole host of topics. Some important questions to ask yourself before committing to that next book purchase on Amazon or Audible are:
- Why am I buying this book?
- What problem or challenge do I want to solve?
- What benefit is this going to bring into my life?
Answering these questions will give you some added motivation to follow through and implement the new teachings in your life. If you’re curious about one of the books I mentioned above, I’d recommend getting the book or audiobook and immersing yourself in it for at least 30 minutes every day. While the summaries and lessons I’ve shared above are useful, in order to really get inside the mind of the author and feel the full impact of their message, you must work through the book from cover-to-cover.
If you really want to absorb as much as possible from your new book, take notes at the end of every chapter. It doesn’t have to be much, just a few bullet points will do. Then, the next time you want to review the key lessons you learned from that book, you can easily flick through your notes and find them. Although this takes more time and effort, I have found that whenever I makes notes on a book, I always internalize the teachings on a much deeper level than I would if I was to plough through a book and then just set it aside.
Let me know in the comments below what your favourite book summary was and if you’ve already read any of the titles I covered.
If you’re interested in going deeper with one of the books I’ve mentioned in this post, click below to get your free 30-day trial on Audible and you’ll get one credit to listen to your chosen title for free!