I realized that I haven’t been reading enough biographies.
Which is uncharacteristic, because biographies are perhaps the best type of book you could read.
It gives you insight into the struggles, successes, and the process of the world’s greatest.
The best of war, business, and sport. Those that beat the naysayers and overcame the odds. Those that crafted a lifestyle of success.
Biographies are written about the best of the best. They are immortal.
I started to read more biographies.
♦ Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I called it The Best Business Book I’ve Ever Read for a reason. The grassroots beginning of Nike is succinctly covered in what Warren Buffet called, “The best book I read last year (2016).”
♦ The Greatest Salesman in the World by OG Mandino. Mandino spins a tale of an aspiring salesman and the greatest salesman in the world, where the wiser becomes a mentor who reveals his secret of success, a treasure trove of ancient scrolls. Each scroll contains a valuable lesson but perhaps none more important than the Scroll Marked I: I will form good habits and become their slave. Children are slaves to impulses, adults to habits. If we must succumb to habit, we must make them good habits.
Herein lies the hidden secret of all man’s accomplishments. As I repeat the words daily they will soon become a part of my active mind, but more important, they will also seep into my other mind, that mysterious source which never sleeps, which creates my dreams, and often makes me act in ways I do not comprehend.”
As you repeat the words in the scrolls, they will become deeply ingrained in your subconscious. Your vigor, enthusiasm, and desire to meet the world will overcome the doubts.
♦ Million Dollar Habits by Robert Ringer. I reviewed this book for NetGalley, which is the only reason I managed to get through to the end. I usually abide by Oprah’s policy of giving a book 50 pages, and if you don’t find any value after 50 pages, stop reading. 50 pages give you enough information to review it or talk about it, but you won’t have to commit additional time to read something that you do not enjoy or value. I was close to that point with Million Dollar Habits but managed to get through it, mostly because I used it as a practice tool for the Kwik Reading Program that I am currently a part of. Ringer attempted to capture important principles (habits is the wrong word) for success and weaved in stories from his life — a proven method if you are good at writing and have interesting stories (see Shoe Dog), but Ringer does not. [end of rant]
♦ From Poverty to Power by James Allen. This book came as a companion to As a Man Thinketh and is actually a precursor to the much more famous and impactful Thinketh. Poverty to Power is too focused on the fusion of physical and spiritual. Almost every chapter is dedicated in some way to a mastery of one’s self and a mastery over one’s inclinations of “earthly things.” It is an important lesson to heed, but it is not a universal lesson. You can have nice things and still be generous, kind, free of evil, philanthropic, and spiritual. Hedonistic pursuits become a problem when it becomes a person’s sole focus: what you are, so is your world.
♦ How I Became the Fittest Woman on Earth by Tia Clair Toomey. I was interested in this book because of Toomey’s unique physical abilities. Turns out she was brought up in the best possible circumstances: lots of physical challenges, a very physical culture, with very supportive parents willing to promote more and more physical success. Environment is the crux. Especially when considering the development of physical talent. We have learned that it takes time for us to become world-class (Talent, Mastery) and that we cannot control that time development, especially when we are kids (Outliers). Still, Toomey’s competitive urge is clear and her desire to become the best shines in this quick read. I also enjoyed the appendices that she included: Macro approach to eating, dropping weight, staying motivated, goal achievement, core strength, and why it’s important to squat.
♦ Every Day is Game Day by Mark Verstegen. Verstegen introduced the importance of core training with his book Core Performance and has since built the brand EXOS around those early ideas. His methods are very functional, with his primary audience being professional athletes and covers topics such as pillar and movement prep, sleep, recovery, and regeneration. A good resource but not ideal for the everyday layman and gym goer or one that is not training for sports specificity.
Read More: The Outwork Book Club
♦ Sports Gene by David Epstein. Major League slugger Albert Pujols, at the prime of his career, strikes out against Jennie Finch, an Olympic softball pitcher who throws underhand: Perceptual skills can trump innate reaction speed. The reason Pujols was so overmatched against Finch is that the underhand release was unfamiliar to him, his years of developed perceptual skills only translated to an overhand throw. Although sport is partially governed by genetic gifts, we are often blessed with gifts that aren’t immediately known, such as the ability to train harder and longer. Science indicates that humans should not be able to hit fastballs but somehow we do because of our years of developed perceptual skills. Much of Sports Gene relates similar stories: genetics often matter and they often do not.
There is no perfect athletic gene, yet genes are crucial for certain sports. People will naturally play sports that suit them — 7 footers play basketball, skinny kids with long legs are natural runners (effective running efficiency), long arms are good for boxing and water polo. These natural advantages yield to positive feedback early on and then produces greater effort: if you’re good at something naturally, you keep playing and practicing within that domain; genes don’t matter, but then they do.
♦ Body of a Spartan by Victor Pride. Pride spent a year in China working out every day to create the Body of a Spartan program. It is simple and flexible, allowing the lifter to add or subtract options that best suits the plan for the day or week. The flexibility also makes it a good program to pair with other group classes or a conditioning program. It is still very intense and focuses on the primary lifts: squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, and chin-up. I recommend it along with Maximus Body for a good foundation of functional strength building.
♦ What Women Want by Tucker Max and Geoffrey Miller. Tucker’s cult classic, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, is one of my all-time favorite books. It is raunchy, hilarious, and really well-written. Max is a superb writer that understands how to relate to his readers and has created an entire genre of satire in the process. What Women Want is perhaps his attempt to undo some of his wrongs, such as introducing a generation of guys that are out “story hunting.” It is more than a step by step guide since Miller is a Ph.D. that studies evolutionary psychology. They combine Max’s real-world experience with Miller’s deep research to address guy’s actions and women’s responses. The book is primarily centered around the five principles of mating success: make decisions with science (not bias), account for the woman’s perspective, own your attractiveness, be honest (with yourself and others), and play to win-win.
In Pursuit of Excellence
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