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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Top Five Books for Business, Sport and Life

I read a lot.  Typically about a book a fortnight - sometimes more. Probably less than 1% of these are fiction with the majority being related to physiology, nutrition and psychology.  I also pride myself on the fact that I try to read books on views that are diametrically opposed to mine just so I can understand others perspectives (and sometime the basis for people arguments).  As an example I strongly disagree with Vegan beliefs from a nutrition perspective (from an animals rights perspective it's a different story) but have read The China Study and Forks over Knives.  I'm always curious how many Vegans have read Primal Body, Primal Mind and The Real Meal Revolution.

From a business, career and self awareness perspective here are my Top-5 (in no particular order)

How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie 1936
The title is often used in the form of an insult ("Guess they've never read How to Win Friends and Influence People..") but the tips in the book are powerful in their simplicity.  Nearly eighty years since it was first published the messages around owning up to things before they are discovered (proactive accountability) and the secret of Socrates are as relevant now as they were in 1936

The Art of War - Sun Tzu 5th Century AD.
That's right - this manifest was written one and a half millennium ago and is still just as relevant.  Messages like:-
 "To know your enemy you must become your enemy" - to think the way your competition does in order to defeat their strategy 
"He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious" - choose when to fight and when to ignore
are as relevant in business and life in the 21st century as they were in the 5th.  In a similar vein Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings published in 1645 similar applies Japanese battlefield strategy to business and life.

When Perfect isn't Good Enough - Martin Anthony and Richard Swinson 1998
When Perfect isn't Good Enough explores the line between attention to detail and perfectionism and
the negative impact on work and relationships of crossing that line.  There are many 'Aha' moments for most people in this book as it explains the difference between 'good' stress (which makes us productive) and bad stress and talks about how stress is in fact based on fear.  Being able to recognise this can significantly reduce the 'stress' and anxiety in many aspects of life.

The Antidote - Happiness for People who cant stand Positive Thinking - Oliver Burkeman 2006
Again a funny title distracts from the true value of this book. In many ways this book is the antithesis of "The Secret" as it explores concepts around applying negative thinking (working out worse case scenarios and defining whether they are that bad anyway) and the negative impact of regimented goals in terms of tunnel vision.

Sucking the Marrow out of Life - John Maclean 2005
Not a business book in the essence of the other four but incredibly powerful and motivating.  If you
ever feel like giving up read this book.  The perseverance around completing the Hawaii Ironman and swimming the English Channel will help put your (often) first world problem in perspective.