“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – President Harry S. Truman
I love this quote, and not just because I love reading.
I average about 55 books a year – more books than there are weeks in one year. While all of this reading is super relaxing, can be entertaining and is always eye opening, it’s also made me a better leader, businesswoman, and mother.
Another advocate for reading is Dr. Alan Zimmerman, who has written a handful of books on gaining success in business as well as one’s personal life, along with being a successful speaker.
In a 2012 blog post he gave his take on the importance of reading: “One of the most important things you MUST do to achieve extraordinary success at work as well as at home? Reading.” Zimmerman says reading will open you up to professional success and a wealth of opportunities that can lead you down a new and exciting path. I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a new and exciting path!
So with all the great reasons to start reading, what should you read? Here is my personal top 6 list of must-read books:
Why read it: You may be familiar with Jack Canfield from his feel-good Chicken Soup for the Soul series, but Jack’s real goal is in The Success Principles. If you’re a detail-oriented type, you’ll love how Canfield spells out 67 strategies from highly successful people that you can adapt to your own life, no matter your goals. My new book, How to Live Your Best Day Ever, is loosely based on how Jack Canfield organized his own book, with short, digestible and actionable chapters.
The takeaway: Jack’s book is all about the power of belief and mindset. In order to be great, you must first fortify your mind. This is done with positive lifestyle habits, surrounding yourself with phenomenal people and finding your ‘why’ and working towards that every day. This book is a foundational book for living your best life.
Why read it: This classic has been a must-read for nearly 30 years, and with good reason: Covey’s 7 habits are simple and focused core values that resonate with many of us. From “win-win” to “sharpening the saw,” Covey’s ideas have shaped much of the business lexicon.
The takeaway: This system for living provides a strong framework to scaffold an elegant and meaningful life. Stephen takes you through each core step, similar to climbing a ladder, to help you achieve your highest potential in a world filled with distractions and quick-fixes.
Why read it: This New York Times best-seller draws on the Toltec wisdom of Ruiz’s ancestors to give us the Four Agreements: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. Use the agreements to bust the self-limiting beliefs that create roadblocks and get in the way of your happiness.
The takeaway: Though this book starts out a little on the mystical side, it gets down to the practicality of what it takes to build and maintain strong relationships in every area of your life. It doesn’t take money to lead a life of connection and integrity; it takes a moral compass. This book draws that map and couples it with a dose of hard-love to inspire action.
Why read it: Burchard makes the case that each of us is looking for personal freedom, and keeping the fires of motivation burning can be one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. Burchard draws upon the fire of the Founding Fathers to inspire our own motivation.
The takeaway: Written in a distinctive style that builds strongly upon itself to come to a rousing conclusion, you cannot read this book without being compelled to act, and to act today. Every moment is valuable. There is no time to waste. Find the gift that you have to offer the world and start moving towards your big goal, today.
Why read it: Life isn’t easy. It has never been. But too often, we quit before we reach our ultimate destination. In this book, Ryan draws on the wisdom of the Stoic tradition to inspire, regale and motivate you to overcome any obstacle, climb any mountain and burrow underneath any roadblock in your way. Ryan apprenticed under another titan of motivation, Robert Greene, and it shows in this short, easy-to-digest book.
The takeaway: It turns out for any problem you’ve ever had, someone has dealt with the very thing you’re dealing with. And, there’s a tried-and-true formula and method for overcoming it. This book doesn’t let you off the hook for achieving your dreams. It gives you both the motivation to push through and also practical techniques and tricks to moving through, up and around any obstacle.
Why read it: LaPorte provides a roadmap to loving the life you live by using your core desires as your guidance system. The Desire Map is part-book, part-workbook aimed at your getting clear on how you want to feel in life, and how those feelings can inform your goals.
The takeaway: Goal setting isn’t always about the end goal; it’s about how you want that achievement to make you “feel.” LaPorte turns goal-setting on its side by having you approach the entire experience through the softer lens of feelings. If you hate the militaristic way most business books approach goals, you’ll be relieved and invigorated by this unique exercise-based book.
Happy reading, leaders!