“I train for the first shot. It’s all I need.”
How did you spend lockdown? Gained a few extra pounds? Lost them again through worry? I certainly did!
However, there is always something positive to be gleaned from even the darkest of situations.
One of the main things 2021 emphasised for me is the importance of books. We can learn anything, feel anything, BECOME anything, all from the glorious process of reading.
I am now reading, on average, a book a week. However, I do not just want to discuss books that impacted me in 2021. Instead, I want to guide you through the books that have helped me through various stages of my life and made me who I am today.
Don’t simply read these books. Make notes, but most importantly, take action. That first step separates the winners from those who will still be reading self-help books in twenty years, wondering why they are not achieving anything in their lives. Each of these books provides actionable advice. Make the most of every one of them.
From wealth to spirituality, there is something here for everyone.
1. Watch My Back by Geoff Thompson.
Goodreads score: 4.25/5
“Words without action are like wheels without traction. It is how you live that counts.”
Watch My Back pulls no punches. Mr Thompson details his adolescence as a weak and bullied young man. He had no confidence in himself, and he felt paralysed by fear of confrontation — not just physical but of any kind.
Mr Thompson decided to make a fear pyramid. At the bottom, he wrote the fear he felt would be easiest to overcome, gradually leading to the top of the pyramid where he wrote his greatest fear — physical confrontation.
He enrolled in a Karate school, but no matter how fit or strong he became, he could not get rid of the feeling of fear that ate him up inside. Everyone around him denied being afraid, so he felt something was wrong with him.
This misunderstanding of fear led to him working the doors of some of the toughest nightclubs in Coventry, England.
Eventually, Mr Thompson left his life of violence behind and became a spiritual, compassionate author and man. He is now peaceful but from a position of strength instead of fear.
I can personally attest to Mr Thompson’s compassion. I reached out to him via email when I was in a desperate and near-fatal depression. I never expected a reply, but within days he wrote back.
He offered to let me come to one of his training days to meet other people who had overcome similar struggles.
Honestly, I did not have the strength to attend, but we exchanged emails for a while. By this time, Mr Thompson was a prosperous author of several books, a film producer and director and the creator of many top-rated courses. He certainly did not have to bother with me.
It says a lot about this man that he engaged with a stranger who needed help.
The Takeaway: Confront your fears to overcome them.
There is no easy way to overcome fear. But there is a way:
“There has never been a greater illusion than fear. Fear exists only whilst you believe in it — whilst you fear it. So…stop believing, stop fearing. Set up a shadow inventory, write down all your fears and set out on your warrior path. Make this your life purpose and gold will be smelt from your terror.”
You have to break out of your comfort zone. Accept that you will always have those feelings you associate with fear, but realise you do not have to succumb to them. In fact, you can use fear as a catalyst to propel you further than you ever thought possible.
Start small. Each fear you overcome will boost you to greater heights. Each success will increase the odds of continued victory in the future.
Take one step towards your goals every day and remember courage is not the absence of fear but doing what is necessary despite it.
2. In the Meantime by Iyanla Vanzant.
Goodreads score: 4.09/5
“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”
After going through a break-up at University, I was feeling particularly bereft. This book came into my life at precisely the right time.
In the Meantime explains how we may all have an ideal vision of what a relationship should be, yet our desire often leads to heartbreak.
“The crucial lesson is that what we encounter in our lives is a reflection of our inner self.”
Whatever we feel about ourselves, we manifest as our reality.
Thankfully, this book gives you detailed guidance on stopping the painful cycle of repeatedly making the same mistakes.
The Takeaway: Every moment, even our most painful, contains seeds of learning.
Every break up is the chance to learn and grow as a person. Past hurts, memories, and pain damage our hearts. However, this damage is reversible.
The most important love is self-love. Only when we love ourselves can other kinds of love flourish. If you hate yourself, you will draw this toxicity towards you. This is not love:
“You can never love anyone to your own detriment. That is not love, that is possession, control, fear, or a combination of them all.”
We are often only treated the way we allow ourselves to be treated:
“You have set standards for how you want to be treated and what you expect from yourself and for yourself.”
3. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley.
Goodreads score: 4.03/5
“Good health, longevity, happiness, a loving family, self-reliance, fine friends … if you [have] five, you’re a rich man….”
This book has completely changed how I view wealth, the rich, and finances.
The Millionaire Next Door provides common traits among most wealthy people in America.
You could be forgiven for thinking that most wealthy people live in enclaves like Beverley Hills, drive Ferrari’s and flash their wealth on Instagram.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The average Millionaire drives an average car, keeps a low profile, and may even live next door:
“Many people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars do not actually have much wealth. Then, we discovered something even odder: Many people who have a great deal of wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods.”
Most rich people see money as freedom. How could you waste something as precious as freedom for a new shiny toy or a chance to show off to your friends?
The majority of millionaires are self-made. Few inherit their money. This was a revelation because my parents had taught me to be suspicious of rich people and see them as entitled and lazy. This limiting belief inhibited my ability to pursue wealth. How could I aspire to become rich with such negative stereotypes?
The Takeaway: Use money to purchase freedom, not toys.
Stop working for your money as soon as possible. Make your money work for you. This is the way to obtain multiple streams of so-called “passive income”.
Passive income is anything but passive initially, but eventually, it enables you to make money 24/7 — even while you sleep. Examples of passive income are investing in stocks, real estate, writing a book, designing a course or even blogging. These ventures take a lot of effort at first but eventually make money by themselves.
Having multiple income streams takes away your vulnerability. You won’t be depending on just one source anymore for a paycheck.
Most importantly, you have bought freedom with your money working for you. You can now spend your time as you wish. What a feeling!
As a result of reading this book, I started a budget to cut unnecessary expenses:
“Allocating time and money in the pursuit of looking superior often has a predictable outcome: inferior economic achievement. What are three words that profile the affluent? FRUGAL FRUGAL FRUGAL”
I began investing. Instead of leaving my savings to rot in a savings account, losing money due to inflation and virtually no interest, I invested in the Stock Market and made over 3 thousand pounds in a month.
I am on track to becoming a millionaire by 65, but I will do my best to achieve this much earlier.
The Millionaire Next Door was the impetus for these changes, and my life is infinitely better as a result.
Three wildly different books changed my life in three very different ways. I am forever grateful to all three authors, with special gratitude to Mr Geoff Thompson.
Mr Thompson taught me how to deal with the fear I felt throughout my school years. I used the lessons from his books to become an effective police officer and become the person I had always aspired to be.
Iyanla Vanzant got me through a sad time in my life and fundamentally changed how I view love and relationships. Me and my wife have been together for over 17 years. I must be doing something right, and if I am, Vanzant was the catalyst.
Thomas Stanley taught me the importance of frugality and what it means to accumulate wealth. He opened my eyes to the stock market, and I have never looked back.
Incidentally, fear control helps me deal with the sometimes wild swings of the stock market, so it all links together!
Thanks to these wonderful authors, I am more prosperous, happier, stronger, and more empowered. I hope you also gain something from my recommendations.
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