Our attitude towards the events that happen in our lives and around us has a huge impact on our outlook on life. It affects our mood. It determines our level of success (or failure). The choices we make determine if we are going to help make the world a better place or contribute to making it worse.
In Your Greatest Power, J. Martin Kohe examines the power of choice and how to use it to make a positive impact in your life, the lives of those around you, and the world in general.
Goodreads tells me I’ve finished 29 books so far this year, but the pace has been very uneven. Some have been a slog that felt more like work. I almost gave up on one or two, which I rarely, if ever do. Others have been a breeze. Fortunately, my latest read, The Term Sheet by Lucas Carlson, fell into the breezy category. It took me less than a week start-to-finish, which is a good pace for me.
On the other hand, the internet could also be considered the greatest invention of our time. It’s the collective hive. I use it to learn how to fix things around the house, to make all sorts of baked goods, and to program, which is essential to my career. I also discover intriguing content on it. For example, one of my favorite bloggers posted the link to a speech that I would have never found, heard about, or otherwise read.
You can read the full text of the speech by clicking here. It’s a long read, but well worth it. The speech, delivered to the plebe class at The United States Military Academy at West Point by William Deresiewicz in October 2009, is about the relationship between solitude and leadership.
So how is this related to a post about the benefits of reading?
It turns out it has a lot to do with it. It made me think about why I read, what the benefits of reading are, and why I encourage others to read.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve developed an interest in Stoicism. I’m not sure how it started, although I’d bet it had a lot to do with Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s book The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living, which I read in 2018. What triggered me to dig further was the relevance of the passages in the book. They were written by philosophers over 2,000 years ago and are just as applicable today as they were then. It’s a testament to the constant of human nature. The times, the problems, and the technologies change, but the way we are wired is constant.
To develop a better understanding of Stoicism, I decided it was time to read the writings of the more notable Stoic philosophers from ancient Rome and Greece. I’ve read plenty of quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, Socrates, Zeno, Cato, and others, but I wanted to read the books and letters where the quotes originated since it’s not uncommon for quotes to be taken out of context.
For my first in depth reading, I choose On The Shortness of Life, which is a collection of three letter written by Seneca.
Projecting technology ten years into the future is a challenging task. Just look back over the last 10 years. The advances in phones, tablets, electric vehicles, home networking, machine learning, and medicine have been amazing. As a wise person once told me, we over estimate how technology will advance over the next year, but we under estimate the advances 10 years in the future.
I’d been vaguely aware that the ability to tell a good story was important to building your business. People like to be entertained. People can relate to stories.
What I didn’t understand was how to tell a good story. In the past, when I’ve tried to tell a story about my business, it fell flat. It was a meandering tale that I had a hard time condensing into a narrative that would capture someone’s attention. Basically, my stories lacked structure.
It turns out there is a formula that good books and movies use to tell a story. I had no clear concept of this formula until a close friend suggested I read Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. In his book, Miller walks you through the formula that writers use to capture and keep their audience’s attention. As he does so, he shows you how you can apply it to create a strong brand message and grow your business.
So how do you tell a good story, why does the ability to tell a good story matter, and how does it help you grow your business?
Life is full of ups and downs. It seems like a fundamental law of life. When things are going well, something bad happens. And when things aren’t, they can’t get any worse. They can only get better, right?
What if there was a way to break this law? Would it be possible for one to experience an abundance of good things in life? Is it possible that we are at the root cause of the valleys in life because we don’t know how to handle or are afraid of achieving ever higher levels of success?
In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks explores how we define the limits of our success. He examines the actions and tricks our minds play to keep us in our comfort zone, or ‘Our Zone of Excellence’ as he likes to call it. Above all, he proposes that we are capable of enjoying ever increasing levels of success and love in our life. He shows how we can make the big leap into our ‘Zone of Genius.’
His latest work, Recursion, has been on my reading list since it came out last year. I was determined to get it to this year, but it was a ways down the list. When my oldest daughter told me she finished reading it, I decided it was time to move it up in the queue. And when my middle daughter said she wanted to read it too, well, that sealed it. I moved Recursion to the top of the heap.
It’s up to you to decide what you want to get out of life and what you want to give.
As I read books from my morning reads, which are business and personal development books, I’ve started the habit of capturing notes from them. When I finished Principles by Ray Dalio, there was a lot to capture and digest. But if there was one key takeaway, it was the lead-in to this post. I’m a firm believer that life is full of choices, and it is the choices we make that shapes the life we live. But I would be short-changing Dalio’s efforts if there was only one key takeaway. There are many, many pearls of wisdom contained throughout the book.