December 2015 – Get Off Your Arse
To know what this book is all about you simply need to read the title. Get Off Your Arse by Brad Burton, Decembers book of the month, is truly one way to motivate yourself to literally GOYA (Get Off Your Arse) and create a new you coming into the new year.
A truly great read especially for those thinking about starting a company up for the first time. GOYA describes in hilarious detail the trials and tribulations associated with starting up a new business. With valuable lessons about marketing, networking and imprinting a 'just do it' attitude in your mind, Brad takes you on his journey from leaving his corporate job behind, to going on social welfare, to starting up his nationwide networking business 4Networking.
Brad's book is the most straight talking book you will get. He discusses the pitfalls to look out for when starting up a business and his no -nonsense approach opens your eyes up to how hard it can really be to grow a business. His ideas on networking and socialising with people throughout the book shed a new light on how we should look at gaining new business. The book is filled with some valuable lessons throughout such as realising that although some people may not be your customer directly, indirectly they can potentially have a massive influence on your business by telling others about how great you are, or vice versa depending on how you treat them.
An honest read, the main thing you will get from this book is to simply stop looking for excuses and to start making things happen in your life. TAKE THE LEAP. Sometimes in life you just have to go for what you want and make it happen. Yes it will be tough, but without any pain how would we realise what pleasure is? Although he gets lost in parts of the book where he goes into too much detail about his story and his business I think overall this is a very motivating book and a damn good read, with valuable insights. I would highly recommend that people pick up this book and check it out.
To find out more about Brad you can visit his Twitter @BradBurton or why not check out his great London Real interview here .
November 2015 – Think & Grow Rich
Do you want to learn the secret to gaining wealth and riches in life, or even just to simply improve your success in life? Then November's book of the month, Think and Grow Rich! by Napoleon Hill, is the book for you.
Have you heard of people like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie? Well, if you haven’t you should get to know them. These are some of the most successful and rich people the world has ever known. During the early 1900s a man named Napoleon Hill decided to dedicate his life to figuring out how they (and around 500 other extremely successful people) came to possess their riches. This book has been described as being the book that inspired personal development and the positivity movement and having read it, it is easy to see why.
In this book Hill tells many stories of cases where people focused on a burning desire and used visualisation and persistence in order to make the seemingly impossible, possible. He talks a lot in the book about their being a secret in the book that if you understand from reading it, can lead to the achievement of all the wealth you require in life. Think and you make it happen, this is a big part of the thinking behind THINK AND GROW RICH. The book is a blue print to take possession of the human mind. As Hill himself is quoted as saying: “The power of thought is the only thing over which any human being has complete, unquestionable meaning of control.”
You have to have a purpose, you have to have a plan and you have to put that plan into action. He says that the fact that the plan may not entirely sound does not matter, the point is to have a goal to start working towards and to START WORKING TOWARDS IT. ACTION is the key word. He says that your plans can always be changed and modified if they are not working but the key is to have a definiteness of purpose. You need to know what you want in life, figure it out, develop a plan and then start working towards that plan.
I think the key I got from this book is to figure out what you want in life and just go for it. You have to make it happen, no one else will do it for you. Find out your purpose and goal in life and get off your arse and start working towards it. It doesn't matter if you fail, the main thing is that you tried. And if you fail don’t give up, this is where persistence comes in. If you want something badly enough, Hill says that you will continue to pursue it at all costs. This is something that most people are not willing to do. This is what I feel makes the difference between people who are content in life and people who are really living their passions.
Hill says that in order to achieve your goals and to find success you must first of all figure out what they are. What do you desire in life? Once you know what you want you must start taking steps to get it. You must visualise yourself achieving your goals. Imagine in your head achieving what it is that you want. Through auto-suggestion Hill says that you can influence the subconscious mind to guide you towards your desire. He refers to using affirmations to develop a really positive attitude and to develop your self-confidence so you can pursue your goals. Phrases such as those by Emil Coué (“Day by day in every way, I am getting better and better.”) are sighted as affirmations you should use. The point is to get yourself so determined to succeed that failure is no longer an option.
Specialised Knowledge is something you must gain in your area, but Hill says that by surrounding yourself with the right people who have the knowledge like Andrew Carnegie, you can use people to provide you with the knowledge you need. Imagination is then needed in order to develop an Organised Plan, which is your how you will put your desire to action. Becoming the master of your time and learning to overcome procrastination are the next steps needed to proceed. You must become a master of Decision Making. Hill describes the most successful people as making decisions quickly and then changing their minds (if they decide to) slowly. Basically saying that you must simply take action and not debate over everything for too long as the opportunity can pass you by if you dwell on it for too long. Persistence is then needed so you never go up, he cites Edison failing over 10,000 times as one example of why you should never give up.
The book also talks about the benefits of forming a Mastermind Group, the subconscious, the brain, the ‘6th Sense’, infinite intelligence, and also sex transmutation. I would recommend that if you are interested in any of these things you read this yourself, there is way too much detail for me to write a review about without making it pages upon pages long.
If you are looking for a self-development book I think that you should read this before you read anything else. Not only should you read it but you should TAKE ACTION. Work through it, don’t simply read it and put it back on the shelf. Use it! The book is written in more of a learning textbook style then a book you simply read from start to finish. As such, Hill himself says that you shouldn't simply read it cover to cover but actually work on each chapter and put it to use.
Creating value for people, dreaming, and never giving up are the keys he gives to becoming successful and of course TAKING ACTION. As the saying goes ‘Just Do It’. You are only given one life, live it to the full, go after what you want and make your life a life worth living. If I were you I would highly recommend reading Think and Grow Rich! so you can Think and Grow Rich.
October 2015 – How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie believed that the key to success is a lot less concerned with your professional knowledge in a subject area and a lot more about your abilities to arouse enthusiasm in others, to lead and to express your ideas. How to Win Friends and Influence People does exactly what it says on the tin, it teaches you how to win friends and influence people. One of those really famous books that more people have heard of then have read, if you are serious about becoming successful in life than this is a must read.
That last statement may seem a bit over the top but when you think about it, being successful, no matter what you regard as success, is all about human contact with other people and this book will teach you how to get the most out of every situation you are in. How to Win Friends and Influence People teaches the fundamentals of becoming interested in other people and becoming a good listener, which can make you a more likeable person. Alongside this it also teaches a lot of self-development principles and ways to become a leader.
The book starts off with the ‘Fundamental Techniques in Handling People’. These principles focus on being sincere and honest with people, showing appreciation and not criticising or complaining about others. The next part of the book focuses on ‘Six Ways to Make People Like You’. Some of these principles seem very straight forward such as simply smiling and using the name of the person you are talking to while you are talking to them. Although simple, how many of us do this on a regular basis? It is important for us to constantly renew our knowledge and to practice things that can help us in social situations such as these. He also talks about making others feel important and taking an interest in what the other person is interested in. These points are vital in business and in our general friendships if we are to create lasting relationships.
Having taught you how to win friends, Carnegie goes on to focus on the influencing side of the book in the final two parts. The first, ‘Win People Over to Your Way of Thinking’, focuses on getting people on board with you. Being able to admit it when you are wrong, getting people to do things for you in a friendly way and avoiding arguments, as well as always trying to see things from the other person’s point of view. Finally, the book ends with ‘Be a Leader’, in which Carnegie discusses how you can become a great leader like the people he discusses throughout the book such as Lincoln, Franklin and Charles Schwab. This section focuses on thinking about your past mistakes before criticising others, using encouragement and making people happy to do the thing that you suggest.
The book has been criticised by modern reviewers for doing what many sales books do which is confusing the difference between marketing and friendship. This book talks not of trust and intimacy which does seem strange for a book about developing relationships. But personally I feel this book is more about how to influence and develop social relationships, not about developing deep intimate friendships. It is a more business orientated book and is a great read for anyone in a management position. It is for learning how to approach any social situation where you are getting to know a person. If you take it from this frame of mind then you will see its value.
Practising principles such as letting another win an argument to avoid making the other person feel bad, not criticising people, simply smiling at people, will make you more socially likeable and help you to start developing more relationships. Remember that even if you think you are doing these things already, life is about constantly striving to be better than you were yesterday and reinforcing positive social skills is a great thing to do. I would highly recommend this book to anyone working on their own self-development.
September 2015 – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
In this months book club we have read one of the most influential and inspirational books ever written: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In this book Covey teaches some of the most valuable lessons that you can learn about first becoming an independent person and thinker and then becoming an interdependent and socially focused member of society. Filled with valuable lessons this book is definitely worth a read if you want to unlock the huge potential you hold within yourself.
The book is a blueprint for personal development and is structured based around 7 habits that once developed will help you to powerfully change you life for the better. Like all great things the 7 habits are relatively simple to understand but slightly more complicated to put into practice. The book is brilliant as it focuses on developing and furthering your own personal integrity and humanity and therefore is is applicable in many different areas of life such as your relationship with your partner, parenting, business and all other socially focused situations.
The book starts off with the focus on developing yourself as an independent person. The first habit is to ‘Be Proactive®’. What he means by this is to focus on your ability to control your environment, rather than to let it control you, which is something we don’t do enough. This habit teaches us that we always have the choice and the power to decide on our response to changing stimulus and circumstances in our environment. We have the power to be proactive and to make the changes necessary to improve our situations and our own lives, as well as the lives of others around us. But in order to do this we need to take action and be proactive in all the decisions we make in our lives.
The second habit is to ‘Begin with the end in mind®’. By this Covey encourages us to look at the aims we have in our lives. What are our goals and dreams? What visions do we want to accomplish? Only when we have these goals in our minds can we start to work on them. Knowing our goals allows us to be more proactive in order to work towards them and also allows us to look for things in the environment which can help us to achieve our goals. Habit 3 is to ‘Put first things first®’ and to start carrying out activities that can help us establish the aims we set ourselves in habit 2. If habit 2 is the mental creation then habit 3 is the physical creation. This section includes doing things such as time management. This section has really had a positive impact on the things I am doing and is important to read for anyone chasing their dreams.
Once you have developed your independent self with the first 3 habits Covey asks us to start to develop our interdependent selves in which we can work with other people to achieve both our own aims and the aims of others. This starts with habit 4 ‘Think win-win®’. Here he challenges our mental perceptions to see past preconceived notions of their only being one winner and to try to find win-win situations for both parties in every situation. This is based on the assumption that we live in an abundant world and that there is plenty for everyone. If we help others to succeed then we in turn will succeed.
Habit 5 ‘Seek first to understand then to be understood®’ is a great lesson in communication. In it Covey describes how we need to listen more to the person who is speaking and to seek to understand them fully before responding. So many times in life we concentrate more on thinking of a reply while a person is speaking then on fully listening and this is something we all could learn from in order to help us maintain more positive relationships in life. Habit 6 ‘Synergize®’ concentrates on seeing the good in every person’s contribution and looking to co-operate with people to help both parties to achieve their goals.
Finally habit 7 is entitled ‘Sharpen the saw®’. This was my favourite chapter in the book and taught me some valuable life lessons. It encompasses all of the other habits and how we need to constantly renew and work on them in order to allow ourselves to grow and become more successful. Covey splits our lives into four main parts; spiritual, mental, physical and social/emotional. He encourages us to work on our roles in each every day in order to develop and become more effective people.
The 7 habits of Highly Successfully People really does deliver powerful lessons in personal change. It is a must read for everyone and a book that will have a profound effect on my life for years to come. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Note: Various phrases on this page are registered trade marks belonging to Stephen Covey.
August 2015 – See you at the Top
If you are looking for a motivational read then this book is for you, especially if you work in sales. Filled with inspiring and catchy phrases, See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar is written to try and drive you towards taking control of your own life and realising that it is only you that can use your potential.
The book is structured based on a staircase, with the idea that when you build on the foundations created in each step before moving to the next one, you will ‘make it to the Top’ and find success. I particularly enjoyed the early steps which are about constructing your self-image, creating positive relationships with others, defining your goals and positively setting your attitude. Although similar to what you hear in a lot of other self help books, Ziglar uses interesting stories to illustrate each point which makes you pause and think.
The book teaches you some great foundations to build your life upon. The self image section is about not allowing anybody to make you feel inferior without your permission and becoming comfortable with who you are, whilst also realising the potential you have inside you and thus, who you can be. I really enjoyed the relationships section as it talks about how if you help enough other people get what they want, you can achieve everything you want, which I think is what more people in the world need to realise. But generally what the book focuses on is having the right positive attitude and seeing every situation no matter how bad it is as an opportunity. Ziglar describes the need to get rid of your ‘losers limp’, by which he means that you need to stop looking at the things you don’t have and concentrate on the great things you can achieve with what you do have.
The big let down to this book however is the last chapter which describes how we need to be aware of Communism taking over, why America is so great and about how the Free Enterprise system works so well, as well as talking about mainly his views on things that are bad or ‘evil’. Basically it feels at the end like he has just tacked his views onto what up to that point had been a great personal development book. So if you are to read this I would just say that you are as well off skimming over the final few chapters of this book. It also needs to be taken into account that this book was written in 1974 and thus some of his ideologies throughout do seem a bit backwards for 2015.
Having said this, the overwhelming positivity about what we can achieve with our lives is what you need to take from the book. Remember that even if we disagree with someone on certain issues they can still teach us something. Overall I found this an interesting read and think that it is important that we do keep striving to create a better self image for ourselves, to work on our relationships with others, to keep our attitudes POSITIVE and to focus on our goals. If you are looking to expand your knowledge on these topics, then this book is worth the read.
July 2015 – The Slight Edge
The SLIGHT EDGE by Jeff Olson is our book of the month for July and boy is it a great book all about, well, giving yourself the 'slight edge'.
As Jeff explains throughout, many of us do little things that can positively or negatively impact our lives everyday. They can be as small as positively learning by reading 10 pages of an inspirational and educational book everyday, to negatively allowing bad habits to form such as bad mouthing a colleague. Jeff outlines how it is necessary to replace our small bad and negative habits with positive ones in order to get the slight edge (over people).
I am a firm believer in the slight edge and the book gives vivid descriptions and stories throughout as to how you can positively change your life for the better through the compounding of little acts and habits you incorporate into your daily routine. These may be small habits but when you add these things up over time they can have a profound impact. For example people wanting to lose weight could simply choose to eat a piece of fruit in place of a chocolate bar and running for 10 minutes everyday. These may seem like small changes but if done everyday the run will likely increase and so will your choices in healthier foods.
The book is essentially about looking at the bigger picture instead of focusing on the short term like so many of us do. Focusing on positive things we can do everyday to better our lives full stop. The book has sections that focus on your goals and dreams and starting a daily discipline in each of seven key areas of your life: Your health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career and your impact on the world
I would strongly recommend The SLIGHT EDGE and feel it is a book that should be read by everyone. Whether you take a lot or a little from it, if you understand and enact the main point of doing little daily positive disciplines I truly believe you will be living a happier, healthier more productive life in no time.
June 2015 – Who Moved My Cheese
Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson is our book of the month for June, and with over 2.5 million copies sold worldwide it is easy to see why.
The story is told in a parable form that helps you to see real truths about yourself and people around you. A very amusing tale about four characters who live in a 'maze' (the symbol for all of our lives) and are constantly looking for 'cheese' (which symbolises all our goals and desires) to make them happy. The maze symbolises all of our lives, what we do, where we are looking for what we want. For example the maze could be the company you work for, where you live, the road you travel everyday. The Cheese symbolises what you desire in life and your goals, whether they be having a loving and happy relationship, a great job, more money, a big house, good health, or spiritual well being.
The book highlights how no matter how much 'cheese' we have it will keep moving just as our desires and goals in life change from week to week and year to year. The characters in the story encounter changes in where their cheese can be found and they must face up to these changes. The book is a very easy and short read but teaches you valuable lessons about how to adapt to change, how necessary it is to be on the lookout for change and to anticipate it at all times and also the willingness that we all need to be ready and able to change whenever we need to.
As one of the characters starts to learn how to deal with the changes in his 'cheese' he writes valuable lessons on the maze walls along the way for you to discover. The book is all about becoming less stressed and worried about encountering change and instead to learn to take change head on and to try to have first mover advantage when change occurs.The book is only short taking maybe one hour to read but the lessons last a lifetime. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, especially people who are going through changes in their current lives and even for managers to give to their employees to read if the company is going through a change.
Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life is the ultimate tale of change and if you haven't yet read it I would say it's worth every minute of the hour it will take you to read.