It probably comes as no surprise that I love reading books. While I will occasionally enjoy a good fiction book, I generally lean towards non-fiction. I particularly enjoy the genres of self-help, management, leadership, business, philosophy, psychology and spirituality. Generally speaking, I only read books that have been recommended by people that I trust and it helps if a book has received endorsements from multiple sources. There are several piles of books at my house waiting to be read. It is my hope to someday read them all.
Because of my filtering system of trusting others for recommendations, only rarely do I read a book that I find disinteresting or from which I learn little. For the rest that I invest the time to complete, I classify books into two categories. The first category is those which essentially validate the things I already know. These books are great because we all drift and we can always use a reminder about the things we know we should be doing but have forgotten. The second category includes the books that include fresh, mind expanding content that changes the way we think altogether. I enjoy the validating books, but I absolutely love the mind-expanding ones.
One of the very first self-help books I ever read early on in my life was “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. At that time in my life, it was mind expanding. I was an introverted engineering student that required the aid of liquid courage to muster up any social skills. Dale Carnegie showed me another way. I only wish I had read his book a little sooner! On the other hand, for someone skilled in business and sales, reading that book may be a more validating experience. There are countless books that cover the same topics and principles, so it just depends on the order in which you read a book that determines whether it is mind-expanding or validating.
I find that when you venture into a new genre, the first few tend to be mind expanding until you get the general concept. Then you start to realize that in that “world,” many authors are writing about the same things and simply “re-packaging” old content a different way. It is possible and likely that people who pick up a “re-packaged” book and haven’t read the other older ones first, will find their minds blown before they discover the whole world of other authors out there who have written about the same topic.
I spent the majority of my twenties reading books about money, investing and financial planning. There were many mind blowing books starting with The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley, Robert Kiyoksaki’s Rich Dad Series, and Dave Ramsey’s life changing The Total Money Makeover. Eventually I got to the point where the books seemed to be repeating themselves. By no means was I finished learning, but it became harder and harder to find the mind expanding stuff. Along the way, I implemented things that I learned and become practiced enough to start doing some things on my own, my way. Things I didn’t learn in books, but rather through my own experience and intuition.
In my thirties I moved more into the business and leadership genre as I was focused on growing my own business and team. My business, as it is structured today, is a smorgasbord of concepts that I’ve learned from the myriad books I’ve read in this genre. There are too many to list here. I am ever grateful to the authors of so many great books that were written to teach systems that can be implemented into any business and help an organization grow into success. The same things have happened to me in business. I’ve learned much from others and their books, but I’ve also begun to trust my own business instincts. My team and I still lean into the systems learned from books, but we are also able to adapt and implement things we’ve learned through our own successes, failures and general experience.
Now, in my mid forties, I have begun to go deeper into spirituality and I’ve read some truly mind blowing books, including The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, A Course in Miracles, and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, just to name a few. I’m implementing as a I go. If my life history is any indication, I will get to a point where I am able to trust my own spiritual instincts more fully. I am getting there.
On Day 52, I shared the story of the Wedding in Cana from the Bible, John 2:1-12 as taught to me by Robert Holden, Ph.D. Robert explained that the story is a metaphor for spiritual transformation which begins at the level of stone when we get our knowledge from reading books. I’ve spent much of my life in this phase of a stone. As I write this post, I realize that in my twenties I progressed from a reader and learner to an experienced investor. In my thirties, I progressed from a reader and learner to an experienced and accomplished businessperson. And now in my mid-forties, I am in the middle of a shift from reader and learner to spiritual practitioner and teacher. As a teacher, that may mean simply sharing lessons with my children and my family. Perhaps there is more beyond that.
On the same day I discussed the Wedding in Cana story, I also shared a wonderful quote from Rumi: “I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my soul.” Each of us is the only one that can live our unique hero’s journey. The books are there to expand our minds and give us needed reminders, but eventually we have to trust the teaching of our souls. I am ready for that. How about you?