Three Big Things I Learned From Reading 125 Books In five Years

read books

What is it about books that makes us believe we are getting smarter when we read? Why do we tell our kids to read? Why is reading important? 

Seriously, I’m asking this question because it doesn’t make a ton of sense if you think about it. Books are someone else’s words on paper. Why would reading those words make you smarter? Why would reading those words to your young kids at night help them in school, or even more crazy, help in their brain development

When I try to answer this question, it begins to make a little more sense, but it also depends on what books you choose to read. About 95% of the books I read are non-fiction because it makes me feel like I’m bettering myself every time I open another one. Still, these are words on paper, why would they make me smarter? There are times when I can read through three to four pages and have no idea what I just read because I was thinking about something entirely different! I don’t know the science behind that, but it makes me feel like a really distracted superhero when I do it.

Regardless on how it makes us smarter, I learn every time because of one thing I do. I go into every book I read with two questions: What can I steal from this and how can I use it in my life? The best part about this goal and questions is that I have never read a book I haven’t learned from. Yes, I’ve read books and haven’t finished them because it didn’t keep me engaged, or it got redundant, but I always received something from it that I could use. 

I have a problem

Over the past five years, I’ve made a point to read at least 25 books a year. I’ve exceeded that goal every year, because I have a problem. That problem is I feel like I am missing out and I’m playing catch up. I hated reading up until college and never finished a book until my sophomore year! Yes, you read that, I had never actually finished a book! Thank GOD for cliff notes, or I would have never passed a summer reading test. 

After these five years, I’ve learned a little too much to share in one post, but I’ll share a few of my favorites that keep me going. Enjoy!

1. You are always selling. Once you realize that, the more success you will have in your life

everyone is in sales reading books

Yes, you read that title right. You are a “Salesman(or woman).” In every sense of the word. Now you can decide what adjective you put in front of that term on what kind of salesman you are, but you are a salesman. You can be the dirty, used car salesman or you can be the nicest salesman ever, but you need to take this pill and swallow it. 

Here is what I mean. If you are a parent like me, you are constantly selling your kids on something. I find myself saying things like this to my two year old son Easton. “Easton, would you like to eat green beans or carrots?” This is sales 101! You give them two choices and neither one of them is “no.” I’m trying to get him to eat some sort of veggie, I’m not going to ask him if he wants to eat veggies, because that’s a definite no. I’m also not going to climb up the waterfall of telling him to eat his veggies, because no one likes to make a scene in a public place. I’m now using my sales skills on my own children and it’s neither dirty or sleazy, it works!

Examples

The more you think about instances in your life where you are trying to get someone to do something that you would like them to do, you’ll notice it even more that you are selling.

  • Getting someone to go on a date with you = sales
  • Asking someone to marry you = long sales process
  • Applying for colleges = sales!
  • Interviewing for a job – sales! You are selling them on who you are and convincing them to hire you.
  • Offering a current client another product – Sales – easy one
  • Asking for a raise = sales
  • Parenting = sales
  • Marriage = sales
  • Convincing your friends to stay in and watch Netflix instead of going out. = sales

I could go on and on about this, but you get the point. Now, the more you develop your sales skills, the more successful you will get in life. You can see how you will be a better parent, a better spouse, a better employee, or a better boss if you are a better salesperson. 

A good salesperson asks very good questions. So good of questions, that by the time they are done, they know exactly what the other person wants and is able to convince them that their value fills that want or need. This is not moving the product to fit every person, it’s being able to give someone exactly what they want, by getting them to do what will get them what they want. . .savvy?

The book “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink is the first place this mindset came to me.  Pick this book up if you want to dive even deeper into this topic, and then immediately after that, grab “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. This is a must read for basically any human that walks this earth. After that, pick up “Influence” by Robert Cialdini. Read these three and I guarantee you’ll have better relationships, you’ll be a better parent and you’ll be better at your job. It definitely did for me. 

 

2. You Can Accomplish Anything

Now, before you roll your eyes and think I’m trying to talk self-help, “ra ra,” motivational speaker type of stuff, hear me out. Pick up the book “Midset” by Carol Dweck. What I learned from this book has reshaped what I am able to accomplish in life. It has also changed the way I think about parenting and will change the way I speak to my kids moving forward. It also has changed the way I talk to my wife and friends. Please don’t just read this post and think you know the book, go and read it today. Carol goes through the research on why anyone can accomplish anything and why it’s ingrained in our brains to believe that we can’t. We believe that the Michael Jordans and the Steve Jobs, and the Elon Musks of the world were born a certain way and that’s why they are the best in the world. Wrong. I know that probably makes you cringe, and that’s why you need to read this book. 

Growth or fixed?

Carol shows you the study after study on the “Growth Mindset” and the “Fixed Mindset.” We are all leaning towards the fixed mindset and that is why we believe we are “fixed” the way we are from the start. We think a person is “smart,” or that the other guy is “athletic.” “They were born that way and that’s why they are good.” No, our human nature likes to think that way because it gives us an excuse to not have to achieve as much. We can say “I wasn’t born smart” or “I’m not good at that, so why should I even try hard?” Done. You are done when you say that, but if you change your mindset to a “growth Mindset” you can accomplish anything and Carol proves this over and over. 

There are also things you can say to other people that will put them into a fixed or growth mindset. Especially kids. If you are a parent – read this book! Did I sell you on reading the book? – See what I did there?

Also, on this topic is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill which proves that blue collar, or non-educated men can be the richest people to ever walk the earth. 

Next, pick up “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell where he goes into the 10,000 hour rule, proving that anyone, anywhere with the ability to do deliberate practice for 10,000 hours will be an expert in that one thing. 

3. “Put on your own mask before helping others” is a life lesson worth remembering

read books fix your mask first

If you have traveled anywhere on any public flight you have heard the term, “Please put your own mask on before helping others.” For the longest time I thought this was ridiculous! I thought, I can hold my breath for much longer than the kid next to me, I’ll just hold it and put his on first then I can get mine on. Yes, that might work, but what if it doesn’t? What if you go to put his mask on him and he’s trying at the same time and you have never done it before so you struggle through it and the next thing you know you are both passed out. Hopefully they fix the cabin pressure or you are both goners. 

In life, this is the same. A lot of times we give advice without doing it ourselves, or we try to help others (because that’s what we are supposed to do) without first thinking about helping ourselves. For instance, we go through an entire day, responding to email, answer calls, working and serving someone else, go home to play with our kids, and then when we have the “me” time. We sit on the couch and binge watch our favorite show. Then we wake up and do it all over again.

What part of that day, were you focused on helping yourself? You are exhausted because there was no time for you to empty your brain out of your thoughts. No time to think about what you truly want to accomplish for the day or week. There was no time for you to feel good about your well-being. You are stuck in the motion of helping others, because we were taught that is what we are supposed to do. Yes, do that, but put your own mask on first.

Focus on yourself

Once I learned that I needed to focus on myself for at least 10 minutes every morning, my life felt like it took off. I was more productive. I had more energy, and accomplished more because I knew where I wanted to go. Now, I can help so many more people because I helped myself first. 

Read “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod, this book has changed the way I function every day, which essentially changed my life. This will give you a tactical guide to starting your day focused on yourself. 

Once you’ve read Miracle Morning – pick these up next:

My challenge to you…pick a goal for the next 12 months on how many non-fiction books you will read this year. 

I’ll leave you with this quote, because if you are not growing you are dying. 

“Leisure without study is death- a tomb for the living person.”

– Seneca

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