But what do we do with structures that don’t work?
Should we sit around and cry about them? Go to a therapy session for failed entrepreneurs? Give up on all our hopes and dreams?
Something I learned from author Dr. Robert Anthony is this:
We’re always doing the best we can based on our present level of awareness.
I love that statement, because it tends to bypass our instinct to judge everything as right or wrong.
You are doing the best you can right now based on what you know, your skill level and experience, and the resources available to you. Can you accept that?
When a structure doesn’t work, it’s not a matter of morality, but a matter of integrity.
Look at the second definition of integrity. It should say something along the lines of:
The state of being whole and undivided.
What we’re talking about here is wholeness!
When a structure doesn’t work, it’s missing something. It’s not whole.
Sometimes, putting the right pieces in place will make the structure workable. At other times, it will be necessary to give up the structure and create a new one. Either way, though, we don’t want to get wrapped up in morality. A structure that doesn’t work isn’t bad or wrong, it’s just a structure that doesn’t work!
After years of putting my to-do list on a yellow legal pad, recently, I started creating my to-do list in Evernote again. I had no plans of moving over to Evernote, I didn’t think a digital system would even work for me, but that’s what has integrity in my life right now. I still need to prioritize, organize, and manage my digital to-do list, but everything is searchable, and nothing gets lost. That’s huge when you have as much to do as I do!
Structures are there to be optimized, to be changed, to be replaced. They’re there to serve you, not the other way around. So, don’t make it a matter of morality. Make it a matter of integrity.
And while some might consider the content “basic,” I have read this book several times, and each time different parts of it have spoken to me more clearly and loudly.
Spaced repetition is good practice with any material you intend to internalize, but this type of magic isn’t present in many books. The Magic of Thinking Big is one of those rarities.
So, even if you think it might be too basic, too commonsense, or too obvious, give it another try. Read it all the way through. Likely, some passages will be highlighted just for you, and you will be better off for having read them.
2. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
As A Man Thinketh (affiliate link) is a personal development classic that lays everything out in black and white. Its core tenant – that our outer world reflects our inner world (the mirror principle) – is also echoed in age old philosophies and wisdom.
More in-depth reading will be required to flesh out this concept in full. The Secret, and more importantly, Reality Transurfing Steps I-V. But jumping into these books without some context and endurance (Reality Transurfing is over 700 pages long) is going to prove lofty.
I believe author James Allen’s intent to be pure. That said, you can still take this information the wrong way, believing that all “bad” thoughts must be banished lest they manifest in your reality. That is a tall order for the best of humans, and let’s face it – that passing thought you had about your friend’s head exploding isn’t coming true.
That’s why I say it may be a good starting point, but only that.
3. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
So, what is the secret to adulthood? How can we remain productive and effective? How can we find the internal resources required to make our dreams a reality?
You’ve heard much about compound interest. Well, The Slight Edge (affiliate link) shows you exactly how it works as applied to life decisions, ranging from business and finances to health and relationships.
The Slight Edge is an easy read. But you will get something from it that no summary can provide. You will gain a sense of motivation as you never have before, and a clearer plan for the achievement of your goals.
If you can find an early edition, that’s what I recommend. Newer editions are needlessly repetitive.
4. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect (affiliate link) picks up where Jeff Olson’s The Slighted Edge let off. First, you will be schooled again on the importance of the compound effect. But reinforcement is good.
Fortunately, this is not the same book. It’s just that Hardy and Olson both hold motivational speaker Jim Rohn in high regard.
In this short volume, Hardy unpacks choices, habits, momentum, influences, acceleration, and how understanding these components leads to jumpstarting your income, life, and success.
Great reading for newbies and personal development fiends alike.
5. Beyond Positive Thinking by Robert Anthony
Robert Anthony is required reading if you claim to be a self-improvement enthusiast, and in Beyond Positive Thinking (affiliate link), we find him in prime form.
Positive thinking can spark ideas and help you see possibilities in challenging situations. But maintaining positive thinking is a herculean task at best, and many have keeled over at the alter of positive thinking.
This is beyond positive thinking, though, and author Anthony doesn’t sugarcoat it. He tells you exactly what to expect as you begin climbing your personal mountain towards desired outcomes and results.
You will be inspired. But you will also understand that the path to your goals isn’t paved with unicorns and rainbows.
6. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Best known for his success with the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and appearance in The Secret movie, here author Jack Canfield explains the 67 principles, how to apply them, and how Canfield himself has seen them at effect in his life and the lives of others.
How Canfield expects you to remember or even apply all 67 principles is well beyond my grasp. That said, I don’t think you need to be a devotee to every principle to find success on your own terms. The book offers both inspiration and practical steps you can apply, and both are key ingredients to a better book.
Despite the critique already given, The Success Principles (affiliate link) is a great read for those who aspire to more. Pay special attention to the Rule of 5, which can basically be applied to any aspect of your creative projects, business, health, relationships, life, or otherwise.
7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link), author Mark Manson comes out swinging, showing the reader in daylight clarity, how personal development hasn’t made a single soul happier. Ouch.
But he does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The subtle art is a subtle shift in perspective – seeing self-improvement from an angle that’s often missed by motivational speakers parading standout successes and abnormal achievements.
Manson says instead of trying to measure up to the gurus, the prodigies, and the geniuses of the world, work on you. Embrace the ordinary that you are, stay curious and ask questions – never assuming you know it all. Then you will never run out of growth runway.
You have more to gain from Manson’s loving tough talk than many a fluffy personal development book.
The above list should not be considered definitive or comprehensive, and depending on what you’re working on right now, there are more great books to choose from. If you need a recommendation, just leave a comment below and I will get back to you.
What is your favorite self-improvement book? Are there any you think I should read?
Leave a comment and let me know.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.