Do you ever wonder what makes you, you?
Is it your DNA? Your surroundings? Experiences? It is probably all of them.
Allow me to add one: It’s the books you read.
Life-changing books help you get out of your comfort zone. They break your fixed mindset and evolve your mindset.
Why Books Are Your Ultimate Toolkit
Your ability to change is your biggest superpower, and it shows up when you feel inspired to take actions.
An author spends their entire life learning, failing, and writing about what worked. The entire world’s knowledge is written in books from Darwin, Albert Einstein, Tolstoy, Plato, and the list goes on and on.
If you want to evolve your mindset, books are the best tools to help you achieve that change. It’s not always hard work that helps you move forward, most business leaders have used a blueprint for success from people who came before them.
I read 100’s of books and they helped me evolve my mindset and changed my life. I hope these books do the same for you.
In the words of Rumi, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
The 5 Stages of Evolution: Where Are You?
There are five stages you need to progress to evolve. Each stage helps you push to the next level and your full potential. I’ll share a few life-changing books on each stage to get you started.
Stage 1: Purpose
“I am just starting out. I need a life purpose.”
Let me ask you something, how did you get started on your current job? Did you pick the job yourself?
We often find our first jobs while being influenced by our parents or friends. Most of us end up staying in the same profession as our first job out of college.
Our current job is the purpose we are living.
My first job out of college was at a bank. I didn’t wake up and say; I want to work for a bank. Then how did I get the job at a bank?
My friend James got $500 to get me hired. I spent the next 10 years at that job. About year 7, I was frustrated. This job didn’t hurt enough so I didn’t leave. Spending 3 more miserable years at this job were not good for my mental health.
We all spend too much of our lives living through a job that others pointed us towards, or that we happen to get through a random job interview on a job site.
If you want the same, this is the first book to help you on your journey to becoming a better human being.
#1: Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Have you ever met someone that quit their job to pursue their dreams?
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild come to mind. These authors left their regular world to find the real meaning of life and they inspire us all.
Herman Hesse writes a story about a young man, Siddhartha, that is not content with what society and his family want him to be.
Siddhartha has quite wisdom, courage and he learns to use his own mind. He takes you on a journey that will help inspire you to find your purpose. He is an ultimate seeker.
The book will help you understand that we all evolve in life. We are all seekers. We want to live our truth. Our purpose.
This book can help you answer one of the most important questions in life: What am I here to do?
Taste of the book: “When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal.”
#2: The Autobiography of Benjamin Frankin by Benjamin Franklin
If you want to meet a true renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin is it. We know him to be the founding father and on the $100 bill.
- He taught himself how to write.
- He was a successful businessman.
- He invented lightning rods and bifocal glasses.
- He had the foresight to set up the post office in The USA.He was a diplomat to France.
- Franklin’s purpose in life to learn and evolve. His story will show you how to live to your full potential.
Taste of the book: I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of the first.
Stage 2: Values
“I feel like I know my purpose. I need better values.”
If the purpose is a map to life, then values are life rules. Without rules, how would you know if you are true to yourself?
For example: If you value freedom, you will not commit to a five-year work contract. If you value self-love, you will not allow someone to walk all over you. If you value giving, you will make sure you give.
Our values become the rules we live by. We make decisions by our values. Values are empowering to living our purpose.
We all have values whether we can name them or not. We want to pick our own values so they align with what we want in life.
#3: My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to fight for equal rights with non-violence.
In this book, Gandhi covers his early years. He explains how he stood up for his number one value: Truth.
After reading this book, I had one of the biggest personal growth moments in my life. I realized that truth is my biggest values.
Gandhi’s motto: The truth starts with you.
As you read this book, you will see Gandhi did not wait for anyone to inspire him. He lived by his biggest value. This value ultimately helped him get India to independence.
Taste of the book: Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine of truth the richer the discovery of the gems buried there.
#4: Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger
This is probably the best business book I’ve ever read.
Charlie Munger is the business partner to Warren Buffett. Munger shares his number one value: Learn, learn, and learn more. Learning helped him become a billionaire and allowed him to course-correct in his life. His book encourages you to develop a growth mindset by reading and learning more fundamentals.
Munger shares that a few correct decisions could be the difference between success and average life.
Note: This book is only available in hardcover.
Taste of the book: In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads — and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.
Stage 3: Habits
“I know my purpose and values. I want better habits.”
We are all creatures of habit. Successful people have habits and average people have habits.
You can create a habit to surf the internet or read life-changing books. You can create a habit to gossip or meditate. Habits determine our outcomes. They put us on autopilot.
Successful people figured out how to replace average habits with winning habits. So does Tom Brady, Oprah, and Hemmingway.
#5: Deep Work by Cal Newport
Is there one super habit to change your life?
This one super habit is the most scarce today. Newport explains how if you master this habit, you can achieve excellent things in life.
This one habit can help you work on complicated things and solve them. This habit helps you make exceptional things in your life. This habit is hard or everyone will do it.
The one habit is the focus. We can only accomplish deep work with focus. Deep work helps us understand why we need to focus, what stands in our way, and how to get to our full potential. After reading this book, you won’t need any motivational speeches to work, you will just know the focus is a habit.
Taste of the book: Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy 1. The ability to quickly master hard things. 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.
Here is my book summary of Deep Work.
#6: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
When I worked in banking, we had 10 teams. One team was consistently 100% compliant and the rest of us would never come close.
One day I asked the manager of that team, “How do you get 100% consistently?”
With a straight face, she said, “I inspect.” I said, “So do I.”
She asked, “What is on your checklist?” Somewhat confused, I asked, “What checklist?”
The solution to my problem was: a boring checklist.
Gawande took the checklist approach from the aviation industry and applied it to the hospital. He learned to create a checklist you can review in less than a minute.It saves you time so you spend less time fixing problems.
Results: Savings thousands of lives.
Taste of the book: Good checklists are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.
Stage 4: Mindset
“I feel like I got my life in order. I want to fine-tune my mindset.”
What makes you average to strong-minded? Reactive to proactive? Cynical to optimistic?
I would argue it all starts with the mindset shift.
Most of us mimicked people from our childhood. Our own thoughts are formed from our surroundings. Mindset is something we need to update on our own. Psychology is the best place to start.
#7: Influence by Robert Cialdini
Do you want to understand your own behavior better? How about others?
I don’t know about you, but I have been a victim of saying YES to too many things. Later, I always felt sick to my stomach.
I wanted to understand why I always said yes, even when I didn’t want to. This book helped me understand how marketers use psychology to sell. This book covers the six universal principles to persuade others and to defend yourself.
You will never see an advertisement in the same way. Anytime a friend convinces you to do something, you will know exactly which principle she used.
Taste of the book: Indeed, we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.
Stage 5: Inner Peace
“I Have Many Accomplishments. Now I need inner peace.”
You can have money. You can have a wonderful family. You can live a beautiful life. But wellness only arrives when you have inner peace.
Inner peace is when you can control internal events. This is where appreciation for the NOW comes.
This is where you appreciate your failure and don’t mind the outcomes. This is where you let go of your desires. You work on your inner world.
#8: Change Your Thoughts- Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer
An uncle, who has read thousands of books, gave me this book about 10 years ago. He was right. I still often think about the lessons from this book.
Wayne Dyer based the book on Tao Te Ching’s 81 verses. Dyer adds his thoughts to each verse. This book will have many answers to your inner struggles.
Taste of the book: Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.
#9: Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant
This is the one book that I put off for a while because I thought it’d be a woo-woo read — the title of the book scared me off.
This is also the one book — outside of Siddhartha — that I have gifted the most.
This book helps you to love yourself.
Even if you love yourself, still read it for two reasons. First, you will remind yourself that self-love comes before giving love. Second, you can apply the techniques in this book to evolve your inner world. It could be joy, a positive mindset, or inner peace.
You will enjoy Kamal’s vulnerability, and it is contagious.
Taste of the book: This I know: the mind, left to itself, repeats the same stories, the same loops. Mostly ones don’t serve us. So what’s practical, what’s transformative, is to consciously choose a thought. Then practice it again and again. With emotion, with feeling, with acceptance.
Which book to read first?
The answer is not one shoe fit all. You may be in a different stage 1 or 2 or 3 and that’s okay. Start where you are and read the books for the stage you are currently in. Once you pass it, read the books for the next stage.
Remember, to evolve your mindset is a long-term journey. I’ll end with the wise words of Carol Dweck, “I don’t mind losing as long as I see improvement or I feel I’ve done as well as I possibly could.”