Friday, May 23, 2008

If You Want to Succeed, You Need to Read

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body: as by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated; by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed.” (Joseph Addison, The Works of Joseph Addison, Volume III, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1864) p. 42) “When we read inspired, thought-provoking books, we grow richer in all phases of our lives. In short, reading has the power to transform us from what we are right now to what we could be in the future.” (Burke Hedges, Read & Grow Rich, (Tampa, FL, INTI Publishing, 2000) p. 3)

Reading is a shortcut to success. The Greek philosopher Socrates taught, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” A book provides a powerful way to learn in a few hours what others have learned in a lifetime.

Block out time each day to read positive, inspiring books. In 2006, the average American watched 4 hours and 45 minutes of television a day and read 18 minutes a day from books. (Publisher Weekly, September 18, 2006, p. 4) The libraries of the world are full of knowledge free for the taking. In the words of Mark Twain, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read.”

I read books frequently and have built a nice personal library. I have read well over 1,000 books during the last 14 years when I first developed a passion for reading. I am often asked what my favorite books are so I went through my library and wrote down the books that have had a significant impact on me. Most of the book on this lists I have read multiple times. They are in alphabetical order by title.

1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
A wonderful novel on the principles of capitalism and the effects of government interference. If you don’t want to read it’s 1200 pages, I would highly recommend the abridged audio book, which has a very entertaining reader. Quote from the book, “Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of the moment. The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the material value-equivalent of his own contribution to the process of production, and leaves no further value, neither for himself nor others. But the man who produces an idea . . . is the permanent benefactor of humanity. . . It is only the value of an idea that can be shared with unlimited numbers of men, making all sharers richer at no one’s sacrifice or loss, raising the productive capacity of whatever labor they perform.”

2. But Grace is Enough by Ken Radke
This book greatly helped me understand and apply the doctrine of grace to my life. Quote from the book, “Have you ever felt the need for a second chance? Have you ever wanted to erase the last several days and start over with a clean slate? If so, what you are really longing for is grace. It’s more than a theological concept. It’s the most powerful life-changing force in the world today.”

3. Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom by Cameron C. Taylor
Even though I am the author, I still regularly read this book for inspiration and to continually reinforce the principles that are taught.

4. God Wants You to Be Rich by Paul Zane Pilzer
Paul Zane Pilzer shares the following story at the beginning of the book:
“Professor Pilzer!” the women exclaimed, following me into the elevator after my speech. “I must tell you how much your work has changed my life!” “In what way?” I asked. “All my life I wanted to be rich,” she replied. “But I always believed that I could only succeed in business at the expense of someone else, and as a good Christian I could never do that. Reading your book and hearing you speak has shown me how wrong I was!” The women explained that two years ago, at age fifty-five, she had gone into her own business, and that she was now making three times more money than she had earned after working thirty-two years for someone else. “How does your new financial success relate to your religious beliefs?” I inquired. “That’s the real tragedy of my life,” she replied. “For fifty-five years, I believed that God didn’t want me to have money, that the economy was always heading downhill, and that the only way to climb to the top was by stepping on someone else. But I was wrong! Now I realize that these views were just excuses for my lack of initiative, and that the one thing God wants me to do most as a good Christian is to be rich. That’s why he created a world where the more successful I am, the more wealth there is for everyone else to share.”

5. Good to Great by Jim Collins
Jim Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11—including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo—and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Quote from the book, “Investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.”

7. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

8. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is a brilliant writer. I have read most of his non-fiction writings and this book is my favorite.

9. More Than a Hobby by David Green
A fantastic book by the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby on how he expanded his $600 start-up into a $1.3 billion per-year enterprise. Provides great examples of how he has applied the principles of the Bible in his business. Quote from the book, “There is a God, and He’s not averse to business. He’s not just a ‘Sunday deity.’ He understands margins and spreadsheets, competition and profits. I appreciate the open door to discuss all those things with Him.”

10. Sam Walton by Sam Walton
I have read numerous biographies and this is one of my favorites. Quote from the book, “There’s absolutely no limit to what plain, ordinary working people can accomplish if they’re given the opportunity and the encouragement.”

11. The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith
The creator of the Franklin Day Planner shares powerful laws on life and time management.

12. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
This book explains four ways to make money: employee, self-employed, business owner, and investor. This book helped me take the leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship.

13. The Choice by Og Mandino
Og Mandino has a wonderful way of weaving principles of success into stories. I think I particularly liked this story because the main character is an author.

14. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
The authors performed an extensive study to find the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that enabled millionaires to build and maintain their fortunes.

15. The New Testament (Bible)
This book changed my life in an instant. My brother was listening to the Sermon on the Mount while I was in the car, and I was filled with the Spirit of God so strongly that I went from a declared atheist on a path of sin to a believer in God with a strong desire to be a disciple of Christ.

16. The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
A little book with some great insights on prayer and becoming a good receiver. Quote from the book, “When Christian executives ask me, ‘Is it right for me to ask God for more business?’ My response is, ‘Absolutely!’ If you’re doing your business God’s way, it’s not only right to ask for more, but He is waiting for you to ask. Your business is the territory God has entrusted to you.”

17. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The seven habits are: 1. Be Proactive, 2. Begin with the End in Mind, 3. Put First Things First, 4. Think Win/Win, 5. Seek First to Understand, Than to Be Understood, 6. Synergize, 7. Sharpen the Saw.

18. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich is the distilled wisdom of distinguished men of great wealth and achievement. This book is the result of over 20 years of research in the lives of hundreds of successful people including: Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell.

19. Washington's God by Michael and Jana Novak
George Washington was a wise and noble man inspired by the Almighty God. I have read numerous books about Washington; unfortunately many of them secularize their writing with no mention of God. This book helps illuminate the faith of Washington, which was the center of his life and success.

20. Where Jesus Walked by Ken Duncan
If you have been longing to make a visit to the Holy Land so you can see the places associated with Jesus and His ministry, this book is one way you can go, without leaving home. Ken Duncan's photos are glorious and inspirational. Surrounding the pictures are insightful passages from familiar Christian authors.

21. Winners Never Cheat by Jon M. Huntsman
From the book’s forward by Larry King, “Jon M. Huntsman may well be the most remarkable billionaire most of America has never heard of. Legendary in petrochemical circles, he operates around the globe in a quiet, determined, respected, and caring manner.”

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