I’m lucky to have a happy family life with a busy and demanding, yet rewarding job, as well as my own sideline business.
Our wonderful 11-year-old son has special needs which present a variety of challenges for him and us as his parents. The biggest challenge being a lack of sleep — which is a killer! Also, my wife doesn’t work so she can do the school and medical runs for our son and keep the house in order whilst I’m at work. Without her, things would fall apart!
As for many people life can be a bit of a roller coaster, with one day everything feeling under control, the next, things can seem to be falling apart. One of our biggest causes of stress, if not the biggest, is the lack of feeling of control.
I’ve found that I can get by if at least one side of things feels controlled, whether it’s home or work, as long as one is less challenging than the other at that moment in time you usually have enough capacity (I call them spare “slots”). Sometimes when both are full on and “the slots are all full”, that’s when the stress can kick in. Over the years this has affected how I eat, my mood with my loved ones and productivity at work.
I don’t know what kick-started it but a year ago I started reading books again.
The reason to give you this background is to explain how the following books have helped me in life across the board, including mental health, physical health, work skills and more.
I thought I’d share them with you, hoping you will find these useful if you’ve not come across them before. I’ll share my own comments and the impact the book had on me.
So on with your new reading list!
Mind: “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” — by Amy Morin
I first heard about Amy on a Podcast where she was speaking about her experiences and some highlights of the book. I hadn’t heard of her well-known blog post before but it resonated with me as it clearly had with others.
A great book to change your outlook on life and how to not feel like a victim of circumstances. How to get over worrying about things you can’t control and focus on what you can.
This helped me greatly in coming to terms with our son’s challenges and my inherent instinct to try and fix things for him- i.e. somehow fix his disability which of course is impossible, which can make you feel quite helpless.
It will also give you tips for dealing with difficult people in your life whether it be bullies at work or difficult periods of change.
I’d suggest reading this book first as having your mind in a good place will help you absorb the other books in this list.
Health: “Escape the Diet Trap” — by Dr. John Briffa
I’ve never been what I would expect people would describe “fat”, but in my early to mid-30’s, looking back at photos I had clearly put on some excess weight that I hadn’t really noticed at the time. It gradually crept up on me with the challenges of life, home and work and probably quite a bit of mindless comfort eating as a result.
After seeing a photo that made me realise I’d fallen off the wagon somewhat, I decided to take action. I tried a few different diets I had found online and they didn’t last for long. I needed to find another way. That’s when I came across this book during a TV program on the benefits of fasting.
This book title sums it up. Diets whilst they may work in the short-term, more often than not don’t last with you rapidly putting fat back on.
The book covers the science behind its proposals which is a variation on a “primal” approach to eating — basically aiming to eat at least 80% unprocessed food aiming to be more like our cave-dwelling ancestors. It includes meal suggestions as well as some simple and easy home based workouts and exercise tips. It stresses the majority of fat loss is down to diet — not cardio.
I have seen huge results and am in the best shape I have ever been now I’m in my 40s, even better than I was in my 20s. I have more energy, less body fat and get ill a lot less often. I hardly do any cardio either. Just a simple home weight based workout every other day and eating in the way advised in the book (I do have the occasional lapse into treat food from time to time, though but that’s allowed!)
Business and Human Relations: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” — by Dale Carnegie
Considered a business classic. Fascinating insights into human behaviour both in and outside of business. Some great real-world examples and powerful tips for daily business and how to get along with people. I had some Dale Carnegie training about 12 years ago and had a copy of the book, but never got round to reading it at the time. Highly recommended.
Business and Human Relations: “Getting to Yes Negotiating an Agreement without Giving In” — by Roger Fisher and William Ury
One of the key skills of a Product Owner (my current day job) or another business leader is to negotiate with colleagues and customers as to the prioritisation of the never-ending requests for work for a finite resource. This will sometimes result in disagreements, a worst case, full on arguments.
The natural human approach is to get territorial and argue over positions. This book shows you how to keep relationships intact through separating people from the problem, but also insisting that objective criteria are used in order to reach an agreement.
Many people will come to a debate without any evidence or reliable criteria for which to make a fair case. A great book for any business leader, or anyone else for that matter.
Public Speaking, Human Relations: “Steal the Show” by Michael Port
I had seen Michael’s videos online and as an ex-actor, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to presentations and public speaking. Whilst I do tend to get positive feedback on my presentations and workshops, I have yet to get a standing ovation as promised on the cover! so I’ve clearly got more work to put in to master the craft!
Great tips for interviews as well, in fact, any kind of “performance” as Michael describes. If you get a chance it’s worth checking his videos out online as well.
Business, Entrepreneurship, General life: “How To Be F*cking Awesome” by Dan Meredith
If you only read one book from this list, make it this one. Dan doesn’t pull any punches and this easy read book pulls together a lot of the key concepts found in other books listed on this page. It’s a raw and honest book that I found impossible to put down.
As described on Amazon “This book shares 11 devastatingly powerful principles you can apply immediately to start getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t want.” It certainly delivers as promised.
I will be carrying this one around with me as a reference and handbook for life. It really does give you the kick up the backside you may be needing. Inspiring stuff.
So there you have it. I hope you found this list useful. I’d love to hear how you get on with any of the books and if they helped you with your own stories to tell.