A great book can stick with you forever. Perhaps you’re reading one that resonates so deeply with your values that it gives you goosebumps. You can’t stop thinking about it. You’re clearing space in your diary so you can get back to reading.
Finding a book with an author, stories and messages that spark your imagination and spur you into action is a special moment and it doesn’t happen with each one you pick up. Here are the four books that I believe will change your life, whoever and wherever you are.
The Courage to be Disliked, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
This book takes the form of a conversation between a philosopher and a young man. The reader is the young man, with all of the questions and epiphanies you expect at each stage. It’s based on the work of Alfred Adler and his Adlerian psychology, as opposed to Freudian methods, and deliberately provokes thought. The young man interrogates the philosopher’s teachings and no theory is left unquestioned.
In short, the reasons why you do certain things are not as simple as cause and effect. There’s more to it and there’s more to you. The Courage to be Disliked unpacks motivators, leading to an understanding of human behaviour with benefits for life and work. It poses intriguing theories about the goal of education, the role of a leader and the reasons people act.
According to the blurb, the book “teaches simple yet profound lessons required to liberate our real selves and find lasting happiness.” For its messages to inspire action you will need to keep an open mind and travel through discomfort, but the outcome is well worth it.
The 5AM Club, Robin Sharma
A coach to billionaires and global humanitarians, Sharma poured his heart and soul into this book. Over twenty-five years of studying exceptional performers led to this non-fiction masterpiece, which follows the fictional journey of an artist and an entrepreneur. Sharma unashamedly wants you to be your best self. To reject the notion of average and be proud to appear eccentric or kooky on your quest for greatness.
Woven within the story are actionable frameworks to follow to the minute, with catchy acronyms and solid reasoning behind them. Every page is memorable and quotable, and the editing is so tight that insane value is packed into every chapter.
If you’re looking for a blueprint for excellence, this is the closest I have found so far. Even the laziest entrepreneurs could follow these frameworks and turn mediocre into extraordinary. The routine and habits created from the 5AM Club’s methods make success inevitable and you will be a different person once you finish this book.
The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
Perhaps you already have it sussed. You’re doing work you love to do, that matters, and you’re living your dream lifestyle. If so, you have nothing to learn from this book. But why risk it? Life could be so much better, you could be so much happier, and you might not even know.
Ferriss’ interrogation of common concepts including work and retirement forces even the most sceptical reader to ponder their existence. Life and work are reimagined and built back from scratch, in a way optimised for freedom and enjoyment. Lifestyle design is introduced beautifully throughout this book, with case studies and compelling reasons for why you should rethink your routine and actionable steps you can take.
The 4-Hour Work Week ensures you run your business, not the other way around. It prioritises living an extraordinary life over the hustle and grind. It shows you don’t need to choose between a successful business and a happy life.
The Art of Impossible, Steven Kotler
Kotler’s career is dedicated to advancing the concept of flow, and this book is a solid contribution to his mission. Unpacking the habits and practice of excellence leads to a scientific understanding of what it takes to achieve the impossible, where lower case impossible is that which you have never done before and capitalized Impossible is that which humanity has thus far failed to achieve.
Readers are taken on a journey of what it takes to achieve their version of impossible, with concepts such as passion, purpose, mastery and grit stacked atop one another in a logical order. The book asks direct questions of the reader and suggests specific exercises in order that they discover their personal mission.
Every human has a unique set of interests and skills and no two people are the same. Achieving the impossible is difficult, to say the least, so it’s essential to find an optimal fit to stand a fighting chance. Motivation alone is not enough. Grit alone is not enough. Obligation certainly isn’t. Finding focus and flow, where exceptional output feels effortless, takes a combination of at least seven factors, all of which are described in detail. What is worth fighting for? This book will not only help you find what you were put here to do, it will set you up well to actually do it.