Written by: Brock Mclaughlin
I nearly read 100 books in 2021 and to say I learned a lot would be an understatement. When my life enters a transition period as it has these last few years (big shoutout to COVID) I turn to books for the answers. Books have the ability to transport us across the universe, learn more about ourselves and have a real transformative power. With a new year comes new possibilities so I’m suggesting five of the best books I read this year when it comes to success.
“The purpose of reading is not just raw knowledge. It’s that it is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and make your life better. – Ryan Holiday”
I’ll preface this list by saing, there’s a million and one “self-help” books out there, lots claiming they will make you successful. Few of them actually will. But when you do find that certain book that resonates with you, that doesn’t feel like a chore to read, you will find yourself learning a lot. I like to read with a highlighter and notepad handy. I’m not afraid to highlight away and bend pages so I can go back and look back at what I learned. Reading isn’t easy, it takes discipline, but if you put in the work you’ll get the outcome and success you seek.
In 2022, pick just one book on this list and start your reading journey. Books are pieces of wisdom passed down from people who have already faced similar if not the same challenges that you presently face. Books have the power to change our perspective and our mindset and bestow interesting conversations for your next dinner party.
The average person reads 4 to 12 books a year. Challenge yourself to read more. Like most goal setting, start small, I suggest reading for 30 minutes a day. I find the easiest way to do this is put your phone on silent and ask yourself, do you really need to watch that episode of “The Office again? The greatest minds of history have all read countless books and owe a lot to them and so should you. A good day for me sees me reading for 3 plus hours. I am at my most calm and happy and I feel most accomplished. Start small and let the words take you away, and you’ll see more success in another turbulent year.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one." - George R. R. Martin
Here are the top five books on Success I read in 2021:
No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings
Warning: This book might make you quit your job and apply to work at Netflix. Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings reveals for the first time the unorthodox culture behind one of the world's most innovative, imaginative, and successful companies. Reed is cool as a cucumber and remains down to earth while giving some great business advice.
The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen
This one is a dense read but well worth it. A venture capitalist draws on expertise developed at the premier venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, and as an executive at Uber to address how tech’s most successful products have solved the dreaded "cold start problem”—by leveraging networks effects to launch and scale towards billions of users.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.
This book made me want to take up running (and with gyms closed down in Toronto, that’s exactly what I’m doing) and of course buy even more pairs of Nikes.
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
I don’t think there’s a page in this book I didn’t highlight or jot down in my notebook. Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create unique results in both life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Personally, Mihaly is one of my favorite authors of all time. He takes complicated subject matter and breaks it down for the normal human being (ie. ME). This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. The author's objective is to offer an understanding of what leads to these moments, be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab, so that knowledge can be used to enrich people's lives. Drawing on 100 interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists to politicians and business leaders, poets and artists, as well as his 30 years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are often seen as selfish and arrogant, and why the tortured genius is largely a myth. Most important, he clearly explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of our country, if not the world.
If you love this book, be sure to also read Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr for those looking for the best page turned I’ve read in recent memory. Go in blind, come out satisfied with this one.
There you go, hunker down on the couch, grab some blankets and a cup of coffee and get reading. I hope that you’ll get around to reading at least one of these books that catches your eye and that you’ll learn as much as I did. Happy reading.
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