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This book is instructive on the need to stay abreast through lifelong learning especially by reading books in spite of today’s information overload, because it is a sure fire way to becoming successful in a fast paced world. And yes, it also teaches how to go about it.

This book is instructive on the need to stay abreast through lifelong learning especially by reading books in spite of today’s information overload, because it is a sure fire way to becoming successful in a fast paced world. And yes, it also teaches how to go about it.


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Who Are You Becoming?

  1. 1. a bookGUTS publication Who Are You Becoming?
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  3. 3. © 2015 Fred McLaurenceLLC. All rights reserved. bookGUTS [Fred McLaurenceLLC] 4283 Express Lane, Suite N5397 Sarasota,FL 34238 www.bookguts.com +1.567.248.0866 You may download, display, print, and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organization.All other rights are reserved. This is a FREE digital eBook. Other than Fred McLaurence LLC, no one is authorized to charge a fee for it or to use it to collect data. Attribution notice for information from this publication must be given, must credit the individual author in any citation, and should take the following form: Who Are You Becoming?: Books, Lifelong Learning & Success. Readers should note that Internet websites offered as citations or sources for further information may have become invalid or been changed between the date this book was published and the date it is read. Please note that this book is an evolving book. Newer and updatedversions will be madeavailablethrough our websitewww.bookguts.com or other distributionchannels. We recommend some tools and apps in this book. Other than bookGUTS we are in no way affiliated with the companies offering these tools. They represent a few of what worked best for us. There are lots of alternatives out there and by exploration you can discover what works best for you. The recommended books at the end of this eBook bear our Amazonaffiliate links. We earn a tiny commission if you click through and purchase any. | ii
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  5. 5. 01 Stop… and think for a moment where your life is going. Yes we take it for granted that we are headed in the right direction but I dare ask… 02 …who are you becoming? Are you really making rational decisions that will ultimately lead you to your ideal. Most of us think we are, but are we? Are you… 03 keeping pace… …with a world that is rapidly changing? Are your goals leveraging the conditions of a world that is steadily depending on our … 04 …brain, and not our brawn ; on our ability to deploy our thoughts to make informed choices in a world where technology is changingand … 05 …redefining success, with respect to what it constitutes? A world where self-directedness, fulfilment and meaning are the new humandrive. Well, only… 06 …lifelong learning… …can guarantee our success in such a world. And one sure fire way to succeed is (in Oprah Winfrey’s words) to keep … 07 …turning the page. Yes, by embracing the habit of reading books. Books are powerful repositories of human thoughts, ideas, and experiences and… 08 …the power of books… is evident by the lives they have changed, following Guttenberg's invention of the printing press. However, there's a catchor … what’s inside? | iv
  6. 6. 13 …our reading habits… …are impacted so terribly that many just give up. But even for those who still find time to read books, I do have some words which may come as a … 14 …surprise! Just reading books is of no worth. Yes, you read that right. You must think about, act upon and filter what you read. It’s quite a challenge,so… 15 …what gives? Well, the truth is that whereas we are inundated in information, the need to read is unavoidable. It behoves us therefore to find ways of… 16 …making the best of it. Let’s face it, the world isn’t slowing down so today’s winners must not just read but imbibe methods for effective learning and also master the skill of… 17 …how to read a book. Yes, I know you can read a book, but there’s a better way, and to that skill you must add the use of an array of effective… 18 …learning tools, that will leave you ahead and at the cutting edge of your chosen career, business and life objectives. These will ensure that for the successA-list… 19 ..you’re next! Oprah is the poster girl of a life changed by books. Ben Carson and Rueben Martinez are the poster boys. You? You’re next! So, don't wait… 20 Go! Stop waiting. Start reading, and learning and BECOMING more and more of the ideal or success you so earnestlydesire! Godspeed! 09 caveat!... We must choose our books carefully just as we choose our friends, because they can influence us in ways too profound. Right! 10 so, back to the question. Who are you becoming? Simply put, we become our thoughts. The sages and experts may have disagreed on a lot but on this one thing… 11 …they all agree. They also agree on the fact that books can shape our thoughts and therefore our lives, making us into the successwe crave! But then… 12 ...here’s the problem… …there’s too much information including those in books that we are literally drowning such that knowledge is threatenedbecause... | v
  7. 7. Scan this for a private message to you. Don’t have a QR code scanner? No problems. Please go now to page 69 for your message. | vi
  8. 8. A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” - Bruce Springsteen, Musician | vii
  9. 9. Let me say this before you do. I’ll admit, there’s almost nothing new in this book so I ask you upfront to permit me to sound off a pack of ‘platitudes’. In return for my candour I’ll like for you to admit that there’s so much we know (even platitudes) that we take for granted and so do not act upon to benefit ourselves. And that’s the problem. Knowing and DOING the right thing is imperative if we are to succeed and thrive. What we do know and yet do not act upon is myriad, so a constant reminder even of tired expressions is in order, especially when put in a different narrative. Perhaps this is the reason English novelist George Orwell stated that “the best books... are those that tell you what you know already.” Yes, we are long on knowledge, short on action; long on resolutions, short on resoluteness. It’s a shame. We must start by asking the right questions; questions that probe all that we take for granted, especially the direction of our lives. This is one more kick in the pants. Admit again, you’ve ignored many in the past! Put a stop to all the modern day noise and begin to ask the questions that matter. This is no rah-rah motivational claptrap. I am not selling you snake oil either. In this short volume, I have picked the brains of the sages, the experts, the brightest of minds and thought leaders in order to make a case for becoming successful by embracing lifelong learning and the habit of reading good books. I lay no claim to an exhaustive book. In return do not lay claim to an exhausting read. Unashamedly I quoted a lot of books, after all “books are made out of books” as American novelist Cormac McCarthy noted. This is clearly a collection of the thoughts of brilliant men and women. I just wove them together with a brilliant thread (come on, give me some credit too). In American writer Dale Carnegie’s words, “the ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?” "In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.“ ~ Bertrand Russell stop! | 1
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  11. 11. who are you becoming? “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” ~ Tony Robbins | 3 Who are you becoming? The majority of us do take it for granted that our lives are headed in the right direction, but I dare ask “Who are you becoming?” British philosophical writer James Allen pointed out that “men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they, therefore, remain bound.” Often in life we go after the answers without first asking the right questions - mostly looking outside of ourselves for success and for our desires to be met. The question “Who are you becoming?” probes your very existence. It probes your big purpose, your goals, your ideal - why you are here. Finding the answer to that question should be very pivotal to you. You must be willing to be inner-directed and take ownership of how your life turnsout. Look in the mirror (and I don’t mean in search of acne or razor bumps) and ask yourself that question. When you wake up in the morning and before going to bed. Write it on a piece of paper and stick it up everywhere. Make it your WHY and allow it to guide you appropriately. When there’s no mirror in sight, make the question self- probing; “Who am I becoming?”, “Who am I becoming?”, “Who am I becoming?” Ok that’s enough. A life of purpose is a life of meaning. US physician and researcher, Jonas Salk is quoted as saying that “what people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question."
  12. 12. Day in, day out we grow. In the bad and in the good alike. Progressively we are becoming more and more or less and less of an ideal. Life's not static. Even when you elect to stay still, you are becoming more still or less still. So there’s no escaping the ‘becoming’. A choice is not a thing as we suppose. It is an action. An indecision is also a decision. Again there’s no escaping it. ‘Act or be acted upon’ is a statement that also aptly capturesthe reality of this truth. Take control of your life today by finding out who you are progressively becoming. Hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. Pose the “becoming” question daily, and more importantly define the ideal you want to become and then look for the knowledge and resources needed for becoming that ideal and act upon those. This is the whole purpose of this book. American life coach Tony Robbins once remarked that “successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Moreover, in the words of the Roman Stoic philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, “if a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favourable.” | 4
  13. 13. keeping pace “Nothing remains great without a capacity to change and to accommodate the conditions of a changing world.” ~ John Ashcroft Let’s look at our world today. Shall we? The pace and scale of change is accelerating and the volume of information is exploding with no historical precedent. It’s mind numbing. All of us are under intense pressure to keep up with the need to connect just in time with the people and ideas we so desperately need to thrive. Technology advancement is reshaping everything we know and the way we live – our culture, our attitudes and our expectations. Established lifestyles, career goals and business models have mostly gone belly up. Your dog-eared business plan is obsolete the moment you put the dog ear. Shame! $10 tee shirts are the new CEO suits and the ping pong table is the new boardroom table. The demographic for the position of the CEO has been shattered forever. Infact these people care nothing about such titles as COO, CEO and the like. They simply want to GET SH*T DONE! (Words in CAPS not mine, it's an old cliché that has taken on a new powerful meaning with startups.) Kids barely of age are at the helm of multi-billion dollar businesses. Think Nick D'Aloisio of Summly(now Yahoo News).Rather than hoarding and | 5
  14. 14. herding which is what employers and employers respectively do, the traditional office has given way to incubation centres for ideas and innovation. You don’t even have to show up. Work as we know it has been reworked! Go ask Jason Fried of 37 Signals (now Basecamp) or read his book Rework or Remote and you’ll a Rethink. Venture capitalists (VCs) are falling over themselves to fund the next big thing, most of which exist virtually. Fortune 500s compete with the Fortune 1 person businesses and have the same level playing field and access to the same market. It’s no longer how big or old you are, it’s about who has the best ideas and the speed to market. Size and scale spawned success in the 20th century; ideas and impact are doing same in the 21st century. Companies risk a bust just by the tweet of an angry consumer. Small startups are springing up to dislodge the same businesses that paid the salaries of their founders’ parents and thus provided food, clothing and comfort for them as babies. How unfair you'd say. Privacy is giving way to sharing and openness. Price tags mostly read zero these days. Yes, free is the new price of stuff. The world economy is graduallybecoming driven by stuff we cannot grasp; stuff that exist only in the virtual. Mergers & acquisitions used to be only about large corporations. Today it is about the little icons on our smart phones named ‘apps’ and billions of dollars are being paid for it. The world is becoming more complex and simpler at the same time. It’s a paradox and it depends from which angle you look. The internet has demolished structures, erased boundaries, shattered myths, enabled tons, killed hierarchies and ennobled work. The world is indeed FLAT in Thomas Friedman’s parlance. Huge fundamental changes have occurred and this is only the beginning. We can’t afford to go the ostrich style; bury our heads and convince ourselves that “this too shall pass”. We must develop the capacity to change and accommodate the conditions of a changing world. We must align our becoming to leverage trends appropriately. As English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin noted “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Our becoming is therefore shaped by this responsiveness. On what does this responsiveness depend? We’ll see in a bit. In the words of John Ashcroft, former governor of Missouri, “nothing remains great without a capacity to change and to accommodate the conditions of a changing world.” | 6
  15. 15. brain, and not our brawn According to German-born theoretical physicist and philosopher Albert Einstein, “the world as we have created it is a process of our thinking”. He added that, “It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Yes, you can’t successfully live in it or become anything meaningful without adapting your thinking. Are your goals aligning properly with a world that is steadily and intensively depending on our brain, and not our brawn or raw physical strength; on our ability to deploy our thoughts to make informed choices? Value has somewhat largely shifted to virtual assets. In the past men were paid largely for the brawn, today we are paid for the brain. A new dawn is upon us. Work requiring logical or left-brain directed thinking is gradually being automated, outsourced or becoming cheap. Work depending on the more creative right-brain directed thinking is much sought after today. We have moved from the atom economy to the bit economy where things are free to roam. That’s our current reality and this has spawnedabundanceand plenty of everything. In a world of plenty, much of which is noise by the way, our attention is the new currency, our ideas the new business. Employers now only look for people with creative minds - minds that can identify opportunity in defeat, those who can take two or more totally unrelated fields and concoct a winning product or service. Consumers are now co-creators and corporations are no longer walled-in garrisons that are fully disconnected from the consumers. Two things are highly priced today; the creator’s thoughts and the consumer’s mind or attention. “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein | 7
  16. 16. It all boils down to the mind, to our thoughts, and the ideas and choices they lead us to. For the consumer, his ability to cut through the noise and reach for that which truly meets his needs and for the creator, the ability to stumble upon that game changing idea and concoct the next big thing. In no time in history has the power of thoughts been so relevant and in demand. As renowned author and innovator Peter Fisk noted, “today we start with the impossible then work out how to make it possible.” That’s some super demand on our thinking! United States Senator James W. Fulbright was emphatic when he said “we must dare to think 'unthinkable' thoughts. We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world.” British politician and Nobel laureate Winston Churchill is not to be outdone. He put it this way; “the empires of the future are the empires of the mind” Success and meaning (all integral part of our ideal becoming) will continue to depend on our ability to effectively engage our cerebral elements so improving it can only be the only way to adapt, succeed and thrive in a changing world. If you are just happening along, it is certain you are literally a threatened specie. The future is here, and many of us are still oblivious.We are waiting for a bang, but it has already come upon us with a whimper! | 8
  17. 17. redefining success The statement above is attributed to the Dalai Lama as an answer to the question of what surprised him most in the world. The Dalai Lama is right, however a lot of that is changing. This used to be the case. Many people are now realising the need for change in the way we approach life, success and what drives us and technology is increasingly making this change possible. A cardinal need for humans is the need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things and to do better by ourselves and our world. I’m aware some people just “wanna” be samosas or couch potatoes. I am not talking about those people here. If you read this far, I’m certain you aren’t one of them. In his books, A Whole New Mind and Drive author Daniel H. Pink points to the fact that a huge shift is happening in the world that is redefining what drives us and therefore what defines success. Models that organize what we do, how we think about what we do and how we do what we do, are redefining what drives humans and what defines success. Many are now into work that is self-directed, creative, interesting and satisfying as opposed to the drudgery that characterised 20th century work. Abundance is now a common denominator of our social, economic and cultural lives in many places. Man is now going beyond survival and reaching for meaning and fulfilmentas identifiers of success. “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~ Dalai Lama | 9
  18. 18. While success as a principle hasn't changed, what it is made up of, is gradually changing. My favourite definition of success is the one from American motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale. In his book, Lead the Field, he noted that “success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal”. The key words ‘progressive’, ‘realisation’ and ‘worthy ideal’ are so spot on, I’m hard pressed to find a better definition. We are tempted to see success as a fixed state but the reality is that it isn’t. While the lot of us would want it to be so, it cannot be. It’s like rowing upstream in a boat or pedalling a bike. You know what happens when you stop rowing or pedalling. More so, in a changing world, a worthy ideal is usually not fixed. A worthy ideal may be fairly fixed in nomenclature, it is never in depth, scope or extent or even relevance. Man’s positive growth and achievements over the years has depended on right or acute thoughts. It is as British philosophical writer James Allen said “all that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” With technology-driven advancements in the world, that dependence has come under intense pressure however. Success in life and business more than ever before depends on thinking or thoughts, so we can conclude that improving our ability to think right thoughts will only increase our ability to succeed and thrive. In the book A Whole New Mind, Author Daniel H Pink notes that “for individuals, families, and organizations, professional success and personal fulfilment now require a whole new mind.” That said, how do we even start? What‘s the best path to this much needed enrichment of thoughts?
  19. 19. lifelong learning “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ~ Alvin Toffler Only lifelong learning can guarantee our success in a fast paced world. A lot has changed for humanity over the years, but one thing remains unchanged - the need for information and learning as we live out our days. The shifts that we have touched on regarding our world demands that we all embrace lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is the continuing, voluntary, and self-driven quest for knowledge. This singularly not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, but also competitiveness and relevance. Technological innovation and changes have had a profound effect on our learning needs and styles. Indeed, formats, delivery and content aside, little has changed - the need has remained constant. Today, those who have early access to knowledge are at a distinct advantage in life, career and business. No generation has a more compelling reason to learn than ours. Thankfully, there are more alternatives today for continuing your educationthan ever before. It was Alvin Toffler, the American writer and futurist who once remarked that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Will Durant, the American writer, historian, and philosopher put it slightly different; “Sixty years ago I knew everything. Now I know nothing. Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” There is a key relationship between our willingness to acquire and apply knowledge, the quality of our thoughts, our ability to generate and ideas or reasoning and ultimately our success in life and business. The impact of knowledge and learning on survival is something that cannot be overemphasised. It has evolved alongside humanity. Infact, American professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant W. Edwards Deming, put it in a funny way, “Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.” I am pretty sure you get his drift. | 11
  20. 20. In his book, Read for Your Life; 11 Ways to Transform Your Life with Books, Pat Williams, VP Orlando Magic and author of over 80 books, says “The world, it is a-changing. If you are not on the cutting edge of learning every day, you will be flushed out of the parade of life so quickly that all you will be able to do is stand on the sidewalk and wave as it passes you by. And if you are struggling with change, think how it will feel to be irrelevant.” He went on to say “I can’t say it enough - having a teachable spirit that longs to learn is critical to survival in a world that is only going to be more competitive” In his book, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, author and creative guru Austin Kleon notes that “the world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit and embrace uncertainty…..” American motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale echoed the same refrain; “To try to live without constantly expanding our knowledge is to close our eyes – not just to the whole purpose of life, but to the facts of life as well. Never before has the world moved so rapidly as it’s moving today. We must make up our mind to move with it, to stay up with it, to grow and prosper with it, or to just fall by the wayside. It’s not only because expanding our knowledge is the best way to our goals, but also because it’s the way to really enjoy living – as the skilful sailor enjoys the sea.” The Christian Holy Bible is very clear about the need for knowledge and learning. In Proverbs 15:14 NLT it states that “A wise person is hungry for knowledge while the fool feeds on trash.” Further in Hosea 4: 6 (KJV) the Bible states“My people perish from a lack of knowledge.” Ok that’s for today. Now, how about the future? Will the need for knowledge diminish? Not all. As Management guru, Peter Drucker noted, “From now on, the key is knowledge. The world is not becoming labour intensive, or materials intensive, or energy intensive, but knowledge intensive.” On the website www.internet.org, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, makes bold to state that “the future of the world economy is a knowledge economy — the internet, its backbone”. There you haveit, from those who ought to know! So how do we acquire this knowledge and become successfulcitizens in this economy? | 12
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  22. 22. turning the page “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” ~ Will Rogers So, how do we acquire the knowledge to stay relevant and become successful today and in the future? The words of American actor and humourist, Will Rogers provide the answer to that. He opined that “there are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” That may sound funny, but it is true. A popular expression attributed to anonymous (not sure who that is) also has it that the road to knowledge begins with the turn of the page. The expressions or phrases “turn the page”, “turn over a new leaf” or ‘turn a new chapter’ are indicative of positive change and newness and obviously all relate directly to books. It is not surprising then that survival or positive change is tied to turning the page or reading books. American media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying; “What I love most about reading: it gives you the ability to reach higher ground. A world of possibilities awaitsyou. Keep TURNING THE PAGE”. I make bold to state here that I do not know of a better medium through which to amass knowledge and change the direction of one’s life other than through books. The core purpose of books as the repository of ideas, trends, facts, figures, experiences and solutions has not diminished from the days of yore to current day. It has done the exact opposite – increased. The ability to learn by reading books may well be the only antidote to getting lost in the future that has already come upon us. Truly, “everything in life exists to end up in a book” as French poet and critic Stéphane Mallarmé noted. Whatever you intend to do, you can find a book upon the subject! | 15
  23. 23. Author Pat Williams puts it this way; “Friends, I urge you to make the world in which you live, the time in which you live, historical for absorbing knowledge, using knowledge, and passing it on. No matter what kinds of electronic marvels we invent, books have long been and continue to be the best place for that kind of information exchange to take place.” He goes on to say “Knowing how to read is critical to your survival in this world” Patti Smith (ahem, something about ‘Pats’ and books) in her acceptance speech for National Book Award 2010 (Nonfiction), November 17, 2010 said something similar; “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don't abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautifulthan the book.“ Well, again there you have it. From those who should know. Don’t be the one who missed the bus, the flight, the train and even the boat! American comedian, actor and writer, Steven Wright was right when he said “There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” What I love most about reading: it gives you the ability to reach higher ground. A world of possibilities awaits you. Keep TURNING THE PAGE” ~ Oprah Winfrey O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2006. | 16
  24. 24. the power of books August 24, 1455. Life changed forever for humanity. This was the very day Johannes Gutenberg minted his first Bible off his revolutionary new invention - the printing press. Reading was finally possible for the majority and with this, traditional institutions like the church were threatened because the church leaders’ centuries-long control over what people believed was diminished. God’s word was now available to the man on the street. It was the ipod of the day! Trust me. In his classic novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame Novelist Victor Hugo paid tribute to Gutenberg's invention when he wrote, “The invention of printing is the greatest event in history." The orator and lawyer, Wendell Phillips noted that “what gunpowder did for war, the printing press did for the mind”. You couldn’t fault these statementseven if you tried hard. There’s a book for every choice you make in life be that a goal, a direction, a plan or a profession. No matter the scope or what point you are even on that choice, someone has gone down that road before you and in books we have their experiences frozen waiting for you to make your own experience less tortuous. "The things you're looking for,Montag,are in the world, but the only way the average chap will see 99 percent of them is in a book" ~ Professor Faber in Fahrenheit 451
  25. 25. People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book.” ~ Malcolm X It is as French poet and novelist, Victor Hugo said “Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself… Gutenberg's letters of lead...supersede Orpheus's letters of stone...” American motivational speaker and author, Earl Nightingale opined that “Books extend our narrow present back into the limitless past. They show us the mistakes of the men and women before us and share with us recipes for human success. There’s nothing to be done which books will not help us do much better.” The book is the only place you get the best of ideas (well, short of a trip to the cemetery.) In books you’ll find kindred spirit. And lots of them too. Books are a great source of motivation and we really can’t improve without reading them. Once we see the connection books have with our development, we’ll enjoy the best of reading. There’s practically nothing that hasn’t been written about. You only need to pick an area of interest and illuminate your mind with other people’s works. A lot of the problems we face as humans from little household, work or personal issues to global menaces, spring from ignorance. The power of books is also illustrated by the fact that history is dotted with cases where despotic governments and powerful tyrants embarked on book burning because of the fear that once people’s minds were enlightened, they will rise to upturn their maltreatments and oppressions. These despots would rather the people they oppressed remained in darkness regarding knowledge. The truth is liberating. Renowned Nigerian-born literary giant and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka once noted that “Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.” In a USA Today article, American author, narrator, historian, lecturer and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, David McCullough referred to those who fought the American Revolution, as people who discovered the power of thinking for themselves and had a love for learning. | 18
  26. 26. I really like this one | 19
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  28. 28. caveat! “Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.” ~ Paxton Hood CAVEAT! Books are powerful and good but then we must have to make choices. What sort of books should we pay more attention to? In his book How They Succeeded : Life Stories of Successful Men Told by Themselves author Orison Swett Marden recorded his interview with Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone. He asked Bell the following; “Did everything you ever studied help you to attain success? “ Bell replied; "On the contrary, I did not begin real study until I was over sixteen. Until that time, my principal study was reading novels." Bell laughed heartily at Marden’s evident astonishment, but then continued. "They did not help me in the least, for they did not give me an insight into real life. It is only those things that give one a grasp of practical affairs that are helpful. To read novels continuously is like reading fairy stories or “Arabian Nights" tales. It is a butterfly existence, so long as it lasts; but, someday, one is called to stern reality, unprepared.”
  29. 29. | 22 Now, this should get us thinking. All books are good but we need to pay more attention to certain books. Some entertain, others educate. As Bell pointed out in his interview, we need books that do leave us prepared when “called to stern reality”. It cannot be better said. Business and self-development books occupy that position. We also need to get rid of the mythological thinking that business books belong to ‘business people’. Let’s face it, in today’s world, business is no longer the exclusive preserve of the so called ‘business people’. There’s no such thing as ‘business people’ anymore. If anything, technology and the internet has made all of us business people (publishers, traders, advisors and so on) and we all have access to the same tools, resources and markets albeit in varying degrees. Business principles apply as much to the Fortune 500 companies as they do to the Fortune 1 person companies. Everyone is a brand, everyone is a business. Even the business of living your only life is business enough. It has been noted that there has never been a better time in human history to start a business. Today, there are $100 startups as well as $1 startups and everyone needs the knowledge to get started and build sustainable enterprises. Infact business has become too important to be left in the hands of ‘business people’. Everyone should be exposed to business principles if we are to live self-directed lives.
  30. 30. Most big organizations today are run by people with NBAs and by that I mean “No Bachelors at All” as opposed to people with MBA (Masters in Business Administration). While this is not an attempt to dilute the importance of MBAs, the point is, those sorts of degrees are no longer absolute determinants of business success. Ideas are businesses. If you have one (of course you do, because you think) you are a business person. To take your ideas to market, you need the knowledge of business principles which you can readily fetch at the speed of need. These must not necessarily be acquired from MBA classes. They can be found in business books. If there’s one thing to take away from this book, it is this singular principle. In fact author Michael W Preis made a very profound statement that captures this understanding. In his book 101 Things I Learned in Business School he noted; “Furthermore, there’s really no single discipline called business; it is ,rather, a broad field of endeavour encompassing such diverse disciplines as accounting, communications, economics, finance, leadership, management, marketing, operations, psychology, sociology, and strategy. Those most likely to be successful in the long run have the broadest and most open understanding of it.” Need I say more? Well, Muhammad Yunus Founder of Grameen Bank had more to say though when he opined that “All people are entrepreneurs, but many don’t have the opportunity to find that out”. To that I’ll add until they start reading the right books. | 23
  31. 31. | 24
  32. 32. so, back to the question “At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will BECOME.” ~ Leo Babauta. Mr. Babauta is spot on! So back to the question. Who are you becoming? Who do you want to be? Who do you want to become? My favourite version is the first question because it is asked in the continuous tense – reflecting the fact that we are progressively becoming “more and more” or “less and less” of an ideal, day in day out, sun up, sun down. I believe there's always an error of judgement which suggests that we statically become something. No. Life is dynamic, so we are progressively becoming more and more or less and less of an ideal or state. Everything is dynamic even if you don't see it or worse still, choose to deny the fact.. In the book Winter of Artifice, the author Anais Nin opines that “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” That’s an amazing way of telling it. Oprah Winfrey also once stated that “life is about becoming more of who you really are.” To get a clue of what you are becoming,you only need to examine your dominant thoughts. In very simple and clear terms, we BECOME what we think about. Truly, we are all having a BEING experience. My suspicion is that it’s the reason each of us is referred to as a human BEING and not a human BE. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. ~ Anaïs Nin, Winter of Artifice | 25
  33. 33. In his book The Strangest Secret (I highly recommend this book) Earl Nightingale opined that we become what we think about. So the big question is what are you thinking and what thought are you holding and what can you do to improve on the quality of those thoughts? Again, stated simply; Earl Nightingale isn’t alone. Many others don’t see it any differently, so we have these variations; Dieter F. Uchtdor, German aviator, airline executive and religious leader, believes that “What we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are — and who we will BECOME.” James Allen, British philosophical writer, stated that “the vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart--this you will build your life by, this you will BECOME.” and Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher, author and lecturer advised that “you must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to BE” And that’s not all, folks ! The Christian Holy Bible is also quite clear on this. In Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) it states clearly “For as he thinketh in his heart,so is he” | 26
  34. 34. Because real life’s challenges will test our knowledge and ability to think, Anthony Douglas Williams author of the book Inside the Divine Pattern, believes that “What we BECOME depends on what we can overcome” If you think about it, what you can overcome depends on how much you know. John Ruskin, English art critic of the Victorian era had it that “the highest reward for one’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he BECOMES by it” just as American philosopher Dallas AlbertWillard argued that “the most important thing about a man is not what he does, it is who he BECOMES.” Thomas Carlyle, 19th century writer and journalist made the connection to the role of books in our “becoming” when he stated that “what we BECOME depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.” Author Pat Williams nailed it too by stating that; “Whoever you want to BECOME in life, books can help you get there. Someone, somewhere, has done what you want to do before you. Learn from their mistakes; profit from their losses. Value their wisdom. Are you looking for a mentor? Books can fill that role in so many ways.” Avid reader and motivational speaker Charlie "Tremendous" Jones also believed that “you're the same today as you'll BECOME in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I completely agree. It’s a no-brainer! American life coach Anthony Robbins lends a perspective to it all by stating that “It is not what we get but who we BECOME, what we contribute... that gives meaning to our lives. Recall that meaning defines success in current day. Finally, for anyone who feels off-track of the path of his or her ideal becoming, English novelist George Elliot has these words. “It’s never too late to BECOME what you might have been.“That, my friend really sounds good and comforting! | 27
  35. 35. | 28
  36. 36. they all agree “Insight, escape, information, knowledge, power. All that and more can come through a good book…If you are going to binge, literature is definitely the way to do it” ~ Oprah Winfrey O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2006
  37. 37. The rich, influential, famous and captains of industry always attribute their success to books and reading one way or the other. From Oprah to Buffet to Branson, the list is quite a long one. These men and women may have disagreed on several things regarding life but on one thing they all agree - the power of books in transforming their individual lives. Many of them have gone on to write powerful life- changing books. They got excited about sharing their findings about life. They took charge of their becoming and in so doing came out successful in life. In their findings about life we discover clues, reason for the popular saying that “success leaves clues.” Book readers have the unusual privilege of tapping the brains of the successful, the sages, the experts and the thought leaders in every industry and in these books they seem to say “Listen, you too can do this!” My advice? Well, stop hanging with the no names and the oafs. Get started reading! American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn really put it very wonderfully when he asked; “Someone makes all the mistakes, struggles through 4 or 5 years, figures it out and becomes a huge success, and writes it all down in a book so you don’t have go through what they did – and you don’t want to read the book?” “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” ― Margaret Fuller “The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I haven't read.” ― Abraham Lincoln “Getting my library card was like citizenship. It was like American citizenship” – Oprah Winfrey “You're the same today as you'll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.” - Charlie "Tremendous" Jones “When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.” - Desiderius Erasmus “Empty the coins of your purse into your mind and your mind will fill your purse with coins.” - Benjamin Franklin “Education is the most powerful weapon with which to change the world” – Nelson Mandela | 30
  38. 38. here’s the problem! “Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.” ~ Daniel J. Boorstin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who served as the Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987. We can all use some knowledge in becoming the best versions of our selves. There’s no doubt about that but then there’s a problem. There’s too much information including those in books that we are literally drowning so much that knowledge is threatened. The origins of a certain remark frowned upon by most people (not just blacks alone) isn’t clear but it goes something like this – “if you want to hide something from a black person, all you need do is put it in a book”. This statement now rings true for almost everyone – whether you are black, blue, red, yellow or even purple because with the plethora of options available today in our information-rich world, it is becoming hard to find something meaningful to read. And unfortunately what you don't read won’t help, so essentially it is kept from you. Mitchell Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2- 3, likened getting information from anywhere today especially the internet,to trying to get a drink from a firewaterhose. | 31
  39. 39. The Information Age - When did it start? Depending on who you ask, you do get different answers as to the start date of the information age. While some point to the invention of the transistor in 1974, others are quick to point to the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 or to the telephone or telegraph. It is however safe to say that Johannes Gutenberg’s development of the printing press and the roll out of the first Bible printed in 1455, may have sparked the information age. His invention was instrumental to the modern day paper. The printing press presented the first method for storing and sharing knowledge in a consistent, available and readable format. Before this time, knowledge was only available to the wealthy and powerful who were the only ones who could afford to buy books that were then only written by hand with duplicates being made painstakingly by monks. Information was hoarded by those in power both in the religious and political circles and not availableto the masses. Information Explosion! At a time it was estimated that every five minutes, we generate an explosion of digital data that equates to all of the information stored in the Library of Congress. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, at a time claimed that we now create as much information in two days as we did from the dawn of man through 2003. Books were eventually mass produced and distributed. For the first time in humanity’s history, information became available to the masses at a low cost. The world was led out of the dark ages as a result. This buoyed the Renaissance and the Industrial revolution. Gutenberg unlike his inventive peers of current day suffered greatly for his idea. He got sued, bankrupted and even exiled for years from Mainz Germany, his homeland. The powerful did not like the idea of information getting to the rest of the world. They didn’t like the liberation that came with it. That liberation also spawned more and more information, a phenomenon now termed ‘information explosion’. In the book Information Anxiety published in 1989, author Richard Wurman made the claim that the weekly edition of The New York Times has more information than the regular guy in England was likely to come across in a whole lifetime in the 17th century. There were over 70 million web servers as of August 2005 and by September 2007, there were over 135 million web servers already. At a time Technorati, indicated that the number of blogs doubled about every 6 months with a total of 35.3 million blogs as of April 2006. The early 21st century witnessed epic growth in digital output. For the first time in 2007 humanity hit upon a situation where it had 281 billion gigabytes of digital information and no more capacity to permanently store anything extra. Futurists like Marshall McLuhan and Alvin Toffler predicted this information explosion way back in the sixties. McLuhan described it in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, as being “surrounded by answers, millions of them, moving and mutating at electric speed”. Alvin Toffler in turn made the term information overload popular in his bestselling book Future Shock. Toffler pointed to the problems of information overload and described | 32
  40. 40. Future Shock as “the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” Toffler wrote: “When the individual is plunged into a fast and irregularly changing situation, or a novelty- loaded context … his predictive accuracy plummets. He can no longer make the reasonably correct assessments on which rational behavior is dependent.” We are at that point in history today. We know so much but only very shallow and we have no deep connection with knowledge, the sort that aids decision making. The launch of MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004 and YouTube 2005 sparked the social media revolution. In just 3 years Facebook hit 50 million users and by 2010 it had hit over 500 million users. YouTube garnered 100 million videos views per day in 2006 and by 2010, it had exceeded 2 billion views a day. In an interview about 1968 Marshall McLuhan predicted what this social media revolution would look like when he said “All the walls go out between age groups, ethnic groups, between Google Worries! Google could well be described as the most beneficiary of our current overload, helping us filter junk and make sense of it all but then they too worry. In a March 6th, 2009 interview Eric Schmidt, then of Google said; “I worry that the level of interrupt, the sort of overwhelming rapidity of information — and especially of stressful information — is in fact affecting cognition. It is in fact affecting deeper thinking. I still believe that sitting down and reading a book is the best way to really learn something. And I worry that we’re losing that.” | 33 family groups and national groups and between economies. The walls all go out. People suddenly have to adjust themselves to this new proximity, this new interrelationship.” Again, we are at that point in history today and when we have a situation, we turn to Google for answers. Nothing wrong with the tool per se until you understand that even they too at Google worry. In a second interview in January 29, 2010, he went on to say “The one thing that I do worry about is the question of ‘deep reading.’ As the world looks to these instantaneous devices … you spend less time reading all forms of literature, books, magazines and so forth. That probably has an effect on cognition, probably has an effect on reading.”
  41. 41. Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook in announcing his 2015 challenge (Reading Books) stated on his Facebook page; “I'm excited for my reading challenge. I've found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I'm looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.” Twitter style chunked and quickie reading is today’s norm and this indeed does have an effect on our ability to read deeply and therefore our cognition. Most people can do deep reading regardless of medium (paper, eBook, web) and that is encouraged. The content is key or as they would say “king” or “queen”. The “king” or “queen” is in the message, not the media. We all have the ability to switch media and reading modes going from quick reading to deep browsing and deep reading, and by engaging all types of learning we can make ourselves better and better as the days go by. The important thing is to retain the ability to focus or have prolonged attention on the content and have our imaginations stirred and provoked. What Toffler pointed to fifty years ago is so true today: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn,and relearn.” We all have to watch therefore to see we do not lose the ability to learn effectively. Failing that, is to lose the ability to cope with current day mind numbing changes and get hit not by a bus but by “future shock”. Too much information diminishes our ability to think deeply, to truly understand and to really learn. We resort to the shallow style of looking stuff up. Our retention is therefore terribly diminished and we therefore lack the ability to connect memory to experiences. The result is our thoughts are thin and scattered. The book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr also corroborates this principle. It makes the case that phones, computers and the internet not only radically alter the content of our thoughts but the structure of our brains — our ability to process certain kinds of thoughts and experiences. Unfortunately and even scarier is the fact that the kinds of thoughts and experiences that are exposed to this drastic alteration are those that have defined the essence of our humanity. The antidote appears to be to fight to retain our ability to read and think deeply and this we can do through books – the harder the material, the better. “In your thirst for knowledge be sure not to drown in all the information.” ~ Anthony J D’Angelo | 34
  42. 42. When it comes to books the story is no different. In the United States alone, thousands of books are spewed into the market, every year. In one account, 11,000 business books were published in the United States in 2007. And that’s just business books alone. As a stack, this would be the height of a 9-story building and the 880 million words contained therein would take six and a half years to read! Hidden in these books, like needles in haystacks, are knowledge nuggets that can change lives and turnaroundsituations and businesses. Self-publishing or publishing on demand has worsened the situation. Franz Kafta, the German- language writer of novels and short stories once stated perhaps in frustration “Too many books, too little time.” Baltasar Gracian, Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher sings a similar tune ; “There is so much to learn and so little time to live” We are drowning in information and lacking in knowledge. Time is shrinking because too many things have our attention. For books, there are too many titles, too many formats and even worse a lack of structure. But then even with books. Gosh!!!! | 1| 35 In his book So Many Books, author Gabriel Zaid says “The reading of books is growing arithmetically; the writing of books is growing exponentially”. He goes on to say “The human race publishes a book every thirty seconds.” Further, he explained that “Books are published at such a rapid rate that they make us exponentially more ignorant. If a person read a book a day, he would be neglecting to read four thousand others, published the same day. In other words, the book she didn’t read would pile up four thousand times faster than the books he did read, and his ignorance would grow four thousand times faster than his knowledge.” Finally, according to The Reuters Guide to Good Information Strategy, 2000) around 1,000 books are published internationally every day and the total of all printed knowledge doubles every 5 years. More information is estimated to have been produced in the last 30 years than in the previous 5,000. Should we then give up? No! Far from it. Adopt American philosopher, educator, and popular author Mortimer J. Adler’s saying which goes; “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
  43. 43. | 36 Anybody that’s got time to read half of the new books has got entirely too much time” ~ Frank Hubbard “As I cannot read all books, I will only read the best.” ~ DeQuincy “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all ~ Henry DavidThoreau “The wise man reads both books and life itself.” ~ LinYutang “Great books are the ones we need” ~ Charles Bukowski “Life is too short to waste your time with bad books.” ~ Michael Krüger
  44. 44. our reading habits Not so fast Bill. I actually have them in four classes or quadrants! People can nicely be profiled depending on how they approach the subject of reading books. Some people fit nicely in one of the quarters, some others cross quadrants occasionally. The greatest determinant of quadrant position remains the amount of information that we are exposed to and how we chose to handle it. Lets go see the Quadrants. I divide all readers into two classes: Those who read to remember and those who read to forget.” ~ William Phelps | 37
  45. 45. Quadrant BQuadrant A I have these words for the QAs “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them” ~ Mark Twain, American author and humourist. “The man who has ceased to learn ought not be allowed to wander around loose in these dangerous days” ~ M.M. Coady, Canadian Priest & Educator. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn,unlearn,and relearn.”~ Alvin Toffler I have these words for the QBs “The book you don't read won't help” ~ Jim Rohn. “A book thatis shut is but a block”~ ThomasFuller . “There is much to discover that's not on the back cover!”~ E.A. Bucchianeri. Quadrant A’s stay off books. First, there are those who can’t read or write and then there are those who can. The former have no idea what you are talking about because they are illiterate and the latter can read and write but simply won’t read books. The second group have their reasons, one of which is the belief that books belong to the academia, something read for exams, so you can imagine the relief some of them have after school. It’s bye-bye books. No love lost! Another reason is that many are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books available today. Truly there’s not much difference between the two groups technically speaking. In a world that is evolving very fast, both are illiterate. Quadrant B’s aren't really overwhelmed. They are still connected to books albeit in a very funny way. The love all the book titles, the book covers, the book smell, the illustrations and all. They will do everything, including carrying the book around, all but read the book. You know as humans, we have a funny way of believing our own BS. Just by buying the book, enjoying the paper smell and carrying it out around for a while and later shelving it, we somewhat convince ourselves that we have read these books. A lot of people can identify with this fact. Listen, to think you know when you don’t is more fatal than being totally ignorant. | 38
  46. 46. I have these words for the QCs “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting”~ Henry David Thoreau,Americanauthor & poet. “A man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” ~. Albert Einstein, physicist and philosopher. “The ability to read becomes devalued when what one has learned to read adds nothing of importance to one's life.” -Bruno Bettelheim, Child Psychologistand Writer . Quadrant C Quadrant C readers only have head knowledge and no heart knowledge. In fact, their knowledge if anything is indeed a problem. They over analyse and know all the reasons why something can’t work. These are the ones that make people shun books. If you want to come out discouraged (at best) or confused (at worst), go meet them for some advice. They know Plato, Aristotle, Emerson (add to the list), yet they don’t know any better than to just KNOW. They do not apply their knowledge properly. They know to reel off beautiful names of authors and the books they wrote…7 Habits of Really CrazyPeople by Yours truly.It’s a basket case, albeit,borderline. Quadrant D These are truly the guys to watch. These are the world's thought leaders and industry captains. They learn and they actively engage their curiosity. They seek knowledge and they act on the knowledge. These are the true champions. To these guys I’ll ask that they keep it up. I have a word to you the reader of this book. This is the quadrant to be found in. Life truly starts in Quadrant D!!!!. A common trait runs through all true achievers. They may not have MBAs or college degrees, but they all have the knack to seek out knowledge and to remain curious as well as the drive to try out the things that they learn. It is therefore no surprisethat they succeed. | 39 My final take? Well, being a Quadrant A,B or C doesn’t scale!! Make your way to D. Now!
  47. 47. Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labelled ‘This could change your life” ~Helen Exley | 40
  48. 48. surprise! “I’ve known countless people who were reservoirs of learning, yet never had a thought.” ~Wilson Mizner Brace for this! No matter what good we have so far said about books, they are in and of themselves of little value. Yes, you read that right! All books are useless and of no value. The value of a book depends on the reader. American playwright Wilson Mizner pointed out that he had “known countless people who were reservoirs of learning, yet never had a thought.” Oscar Wilde the Irish writer and poet noted that “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” That sounds weird but it is true. British gynaecologist and writer Alec Bourne put it a little differently when he posited that “It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated."I’ll explain. You see, the word “education” has interesting origins. It has Latin roots; deriving from the word ‘Ducere’ meaning to draw or lead. The prefix "e" means "out of." What the teacher does then is to draw out the potential and gifts that lie undeveloped in a student. Seen this way, we can then appreciate the word “education”, not in the way we erroneously do, only thinking that the teacher’s duty is to put something into the student. And this explains why people who are inclined to certain potentials cannot be persuaded to be otherwise. You cannot draw out a footballer from a chef no matter how hard you try. We all have gifts and we must find the teachers to draw out those gifts. Books can do that effectively. Scottish poet, moralist and philosopher James Beattie says that “the aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think—rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.” Author Paulo Coelho, writes in Veronika Decides to Die that “People never learn anything by being told. They have to find out for themselves.” In summary, it is the reader that makes a book potent and valuable, not the other way around. When it comesto books, you must think, you must act and you must be selective. | 41
  49. 49. | 69 If you got this far…you’re curious! Curious people are successful people!!
  50. 50. End of preview Want the rest of this book? Get it here. It’s free! http://bit.ly/viz2aud