During a podcast interview yesterday, I was asked about some book recommendations for people going through certain situations.
While I had no problem rattling off a few titles in response to the questions, I realized that what I think everyone else should read is very different than what I think I should read.
Out of every 10 books I consume, I would say that 2 are not particularly useful for anyone, 7 or 8 would be valuable for most people I know, and maybe ONE truly speaks to me. This usually means I will listen to the audio version at least twice and buy the hard copy to highlight and write all throughout the pages. I also know that I will continue to revisit that material again in the near future, and probably not ever go more than a year without returning to it in some manner.
A connection this strong is rare and powerful. So in this post I’d like to highlight two of my favorite books that resolved a lot of mental anguish I previously held as an athlete and a business owner, and why that is so damn important to me.
But before we talk about them individually, I want to explain what occurs in my brain that helps me identify these game-changers.
HOW DO I KNOW THESE BOOKS MATTER TO ME?
After spending a good five years away from reading anything besides grad school textbooks or scientific research, 2016 marked a new beginning for my life as a learner. I downloaded Audible and fell madly in love with books again. It took me about four months or so to find a good groove, but once I did some patterns began to emerge.
If I was less than 100 pages into a particular book and did not feel like I had gained a single new perspective, it obviously was no longer worth reading.
If I would be somewhere around the halfway point and would find myself wondering “is this thing over yet?”, it obviously was not going to be a pivotal read for me.
If I finished it and felt myself content and slightly enlightened, then it was worth the time for me. I might read it again sometime in life. Might buy the hardcopy. Might take a few notes here and there.
But if during the reading I find a very profound and deep emotional excitement towards the material, then you got me. Now you’ve become a “resolution book” or an “exposition book” in my eyes, meaning you either explained something I was already feeling and couldn’t yet phrase or you shed light on something so profound that I would have never had the pleasure of knowing about it otherwise. When I finish these types of books I often get saddened when I reach the end because I wish there was more of it. And I do not take that lightly.
The common thread between the two books below is that they are the strongest resolution books I’ve read to date.
They shed some light on my EXACT feelings in many situations as an athlete and entrepreneur. I thought I was a weirdo, I thought I was thinking unhealthy thoughts, I thought I was crazy, I thought I was selfish, and I thought I was mean — until I stumbled upon these.
In short, I feel alone in my thoughts almost all of the time. These books made me feel like I was not alone. And that is why I hold them so dear.
MY FAVORITE ATHLETIC PHILOSOPHY BOOK
Tim S. Grover’s book, “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable” lays out an attitude of arrogance, excellence, and high expectations.
…Success isn’t the same thing as talent. The world is full of incredibly talented people who never succeed at anything. They show up, do what they do, and if doesn’t work out, they blame everyone else because they believe talent should be enough. It’s not. If you want to be truly successful, you can’t be content with “pretty good.” You need to find an extra gear.
…Here’s the key: I’m not going to tell you how to change. People don’t change. I want you to trust who you already are, and get to that Zone where you can shut out all the noise, all the negativity and fear and distractions and lies, and achieve whatever you want, in whatever you do.
To get there, I’m going to talk to you about some provocative topics, and you’ll get no apologies from me if that makes you uncomfortable. Success is about dealing with reality, facing your demons and addictions, and not putting a smiley face on everything you do. If you need a pat on the back and a “Good Job!” to get your ass off the couch, this is not the book for you. Because if you want to be unstoppable, you have to face who you really are and make it work for you, not against you. Truly relentless people — the Cleaners — are predators, with dark sides that refuse to be taught to be good. And whether you know it or not, you DO have a dark side. Use it well and it can be your greatest gift.”
The entire basis of the book compares three types of competitors: Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners.
Also known as good, great, and unstoppable athletes.
Here are some examples from the text:
A Cooler thinks about what he’s supposed to think about.
A Closer thinks, analyzes, and eventually he acts.
A Cleaner doesn’t think at all, he just knows.
A Cooler tries to fight his dark side and loses.
A Closer acknowledges his dark side bus isn’t able to control it.
A Cleaner harnesses his dark side into raw, controlled power.
A Cooler does a good job and waits for a pat on the back.
A Closer does a good job and pats himself on the back.
A Cleaner just does a good job, that’s his job.
A Cooler accepts what he can’t do and gives up.
A Closer recognizes what he can’t do but keeps working at it.
A Cleaner knows what he can do and stays with it until he decides to do something else.”
These pieces are obviously elaborated throughout the text, but these comparisons get straight to the heart of athletic responsibility. (At least to my heart anyway.)
Grover uses his many stories, anecdotes, and lessons learned from his decades of training the NBA’s top players of all time to illustrate his points in a very blunt and straightforward manner.
After training Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade to multiple championships, Grover has the chops and the confidence to admit some pretty rattling details about what makes these legends different from the rest.
It’s dark, it’s dramatic, it’s honest, and I love every bit of it.
MY FAVORITE BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY BOOK
Although Grant Cardone is a bit too obnoxious for me to want to hang out with, his latest book, “Be Obsessed or Be Average”, hit home in a whole lot of meaningful ways.
It wasn’t the business-specific tactics he gave, but more so his outlook on life as a business person that hit me over the head.
There are a lot of lame ass business gurus out there telling you “how to make money so you can work less and enjoy your life more”, but that never felt right to me.
I don’t work hard so that I can chill out to enjoy the afternoons and retire before I’m 50. I work hard because I LOVE MY WORK.
I want to continue to grow within my career for as long as I live so I can always have more options and freedom to expand my life’s work and get everything I can from it.
And in this book, Cardone, the multi-millionaire real estate king, sheds light on how he used a similar mindset to create the life HE WANTED.
Here is my favorite chunk from the introduction:
I’ve been called a work addict, compulsive, obsessive, never satisfied, out of balance, tyrannical, and impossible to work with. I’ve been told I’m too demanding and that I have unreasonable expectations for myself and others. I have had “professionals” suggest that I have ADD, ADHD, OCD, and much more. Friends and family have told me to chill out, calm down, relax, and take it easy.
The reality is that no matter how much I have tied to squelch or control my obsession with success, it has been the one thing most-responsible for my being where I am today. My obsessions have taken me from lost and broken in every way at the age of twenty-five to owning five privately held companies with sales of $100 million a year, being named one of the top ten most influential CEOs in the world, and being a New York Times best-selling author of five books, an internationally acclaimed speaker, an attentive husband, a doting father of two girls, and a contributing member of society.
I am not bragging — I just want to make it perfectly clear that what I’ve achieved in life is not because of some particular intervention, luck of timing, inside deal, or special intelligence. I am where I am today only because I embraces my obsession with success.
That being said, before I gave myself permission to fully own my obsessions and harness it for good, denying my obsession almost killed me. I learned the hard way that denying your obsession or being obsessed with the wrong things can be very destructive.
I’m going to share my story about discovering my obsession and how that alone has given me this super life. I will share with you the tools I’ve discovered along the way to put my obsession to work for me. I want to give you permission to be completely and unapologetically obsessed too — regardless of who you are, where you come from, what your family is like, or what your crazy big dream is.”
Personally, I do not want a real estate empire like this dude. But I do want people to stop making me feel like I’m crazy for loving my work.
Being insanely focused saved Cardone’s life many times, and reading his book made me realize it has done the same for me as well.
I can 100% relate to this as both an athlete and a business owner — I bet that many of you can too.
IT’S ABOUT CLARITY, NOT CONFIRMATION
As I finish my gushing session about these reads, I also realize that it may seem as though I enjoy reading about ideas from people who agree with me and see things the way I do. It might seem like some sort of confirmation bias.
While is may be true, I don’t think I care. As I mentioned above, these are TWO of the very few standout books that lit me up emotionally in some kind of way and I think it would be stupid to ignore that.
When I first read them, I felt understood. It was as if someone had been secretly collecting the thoughts from my head that I didn’t have the words for and laid them out for me on pages plain to see.
When I revisit them, I feel a sense of clarity, drive, and doggedness that helps me attack my days just a little bit harder.
I don’t know if these books would do the same for you as a reader, but I can only hope that you can find your own books, movies, songs, poems, or articles that shake your soul into action towards whatever your ideal situation may be.
Your life’s work is all you have, and anything that enhances your efforts towards that is completely worth the search.