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Book Review

What to read this holiday season. Books that will help you achieve your highest performing self.

Source | LinkedIn | Alin Sneha Abraham | People & Culture Specialist

There are different types of serious readers.

Type #1: Once they start a book, they owe it to the universe to finish it, no matter how crappy it is.

Type #2: They were probably type 1, until the day they realized that they won’t live forever, so they decided to stop reading anything sub-standard. They have learnt to stop a book and move on to better things even if they are mid way through it.

Type #3: They take careful note of recommendations, read countless reviews, ask other people’s opinions, think through whether they want to spend time on the book before actually starting to read it. This type readers also go by the name ‘non existent’.

If you belong in this category, have a good long look in the mirror and know that you are special. Please also drop me a note so I can learn from you.

As for me, I was type 1, progressed to type 2, but I believe type 3 is the way to nirvana, so when a dear friend recommended “the subtle art of not giving a fu*k” by Mark Manson, I immediately got myself for a copy from the library.

I enthusiastically read the first 20-25% of the book.

Then I returned it.

It is a subtle art to know when you should stop reading a book, and that is what type 2 readers like me are good at. Experience teaches this art quite quickly.

There was however one principle that Manson and I agree on, but I, unlike him, choose to drop the f-bomb more reservedly.

Manson’s take: The desire for more positive experience is in itself a negative experience, because going after something means that you don’t have it in the first place. Knowing this fact will only make you feel miserable, don’t do it. Also, you suck, so don’t go about feeling too good about yourself.

In a version close to Manson’s language: Fu*k this, Fu*k that, Fu*k you (there is a chapter titled “you are not special”). Fu*k positive thinking. Fu*k 100 other things that sound like hard work.

I did not read the rest, so I don’t know what happened in the end. All I got was don’t work too hard for things that you don’t haveThen he starts contradicting himself after a few chapters. Apparently there are a few things that you should allow yourself to work hard for. (What a surprise!)

Where I do agree with Manson is that you should care less for some things. Looking at life from a macro view, You have given plenty “fu*ks” (as Manson likes to put it) thus far to varying things in your life and have finally realized that giving fu*ks cost you. Your fu*ks should be like those limited edition merchandise, Limited. That is the end, we did not agree any further.

I would have actually been curious and might even have finished Manson’s book if he had based his point of view on research and data. But the book was just of a series of frustrated blog posts. I have returned it to where I hope it stays, on the library’s shelf.

Beyond….

We’ve all been around a while, we’ve experienced things. By now, if you are like me, you have failed some, but have also enjoyed some successes. You have probably realized that no one actually died from embarrassment. You have worked really hard for things that matter and occasionally on some things that turned out not to matter in the end. In short, you have learnt some stuff.

You gradually form certain principles and start identifying yourself with certain values. Your personal brand becomes better articulated, to you and to people around you. You may continue to learn and grow, but you are not the empty vessel you started off as. Furthermore, Although you know what values and ideas you identify with, You are not threatened by the ideas that do not resonate with you.

And that is why I knew that I am ok not to subscribe to Mark Manson’s advice, but was not disturbed by the wild success of his book. There are a lot of people who do not think exactly as I do and thank god for that. The world is an interesting place because of that single fact.

Having said that, I do feel the need to share some ideas that I subscribe to. Over the past years, I have formed many beliefs and values based on experiences, conversations, and books.

Since book knowledge is easy to share, I repeatedly recommend these books. Most of these books are based on many years of research and experimentation. They have a series of concepts, followed by replicable tips/actions that anybody can try. Anybody who is willing to work for what they want.

My “Work Hard Club” recommendations are:

Mindset by Carol Dweck. The summary is that People with a fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed — are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset — those who believe that abilities can be developed. The book has many chapters on figuring out your mindset and also on how to change your mindset if you wish to.

Good to great – Jim Collins and his research team identified a set of companies that made the leap from being good and intentionally progressed to giving great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. The concepts are easy to understand and repeat.

Power of habit – Charles Duhigg gives an entertaining report of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.

Influence by Robert Cialdini – the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”. You’ll learn the six universal principles of persuasion and how to use them to become a skilled persuader.

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This book lays down the nature of change. You will learn how to understand change, break it down to bite sized pieces and successfully manage it to achieve success.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you want to be happy but know you are currently not, find meaningful ways to be happy and then go after that with all your might and resources. Glibert shares theories on how to develop a “talent in happiness”.

And I must squeeze in just one TED talk, Amy Cuddy with her fabulous message to fake it till you become it. It has been viewed over 55 million times just on TED website.

To summarize, If you know that you do not have something, and would like to have it, there is nothing shameful in working hard for it.

Do what works for you, but do.

Do it more.

Fail, fail better.

Listen. Read. Learn. Do it again.

Fake it if you must, fail when you fake it.

Get embarrassed. Know that it is ok to be embarrassed. Of course it sucks right now, but ‘now’ is not forever.

Take your time feeling ok, but then do it again.

You may achieve it, you may half achieve it, you may decide to let go and walk away.

But you will know you worked hard, and that matters.

Originally published @ LinkedIn

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