02 Mar

The Four Books That Shaped My Life

I am addicted to books. A week ago, when a company setup a huge book sale event near my home, my wife and I, with an 8-month-old in tow, actually went at 5 am just so we can have early access to the event. Needless to say, as we were driving home, our car was much heavier and our wallets much lighter.

I find that books have a profound impact in my life. Growing up in a third-world country, at a time when Internet wasn’t prevalent yet, limited my access to great thinkers and mentors. Good thing I found a love for books – and thru the authors, I found a way to learn from enlightened men and women who I may never get a chance to personally meet.

Here are the four books that have not just enlightened me – but actually shaped how my life will be lived. These are the books that I keep rereading because they serve as reminders on how I believe my life should be lived.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen Covey

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to make a decision. And when I came across this book in 2005, I learned how to make them. With the second habit of “Begin with the end in mind”, my life changed. I was not going to live my life anymore without a clear end-goal. I was challenged to understand who I really am and more importantly what is my purpose and my calling. And when I learned who I was, what my purpose and calling were, I found it much easier to make decisions.

No longer were my decisions tied to emotions or spur of the moment things. Every decision I had to make moving forward, I made by asking myself if it fit my “end in mind”. Since I was very clear with my end-goal, it was easy to see if a choice would help me get closer to it, or farther from it.

Strengths Finder

Author: Gallup Organization

My first job was with a very stable 170-year-old multi-national company (Procter & Gamble). And I was blown away by the talent of people around me. I didn’t feel I belonged – everyone was just so skilled at what they do, so articulate, and so full of leadership chops. I had neither of those three – I was ok, but not great. I was having a hard time catching up with my peers.

And then I read this book. This book’s thesis is that there are 34 known strengths. Each of us will have a top 5. And if we did our work in way that we are able to maximize our top 5 strengths, then we will both enjoy our work and do very, very well in it.

I embraced my top 5 – and not only did I start enjoying my work more, I was actually standing out without putting in the effort to stand-out. My results, that were driven by my Top 5 Strengths were making me stand-out.

The First 90 Days

Author: Michael Watkins

Life is a about change. And careers are about transitions. If you can embrace and master handling change and transitions, then you will have a leg up.

The First 90 Days book helps us manage career transitions. It suggests that the first 90 days on a job or a role will determine how much impact we will have in the next 2-3 years. Therefore it is important to have as vertical a start-up as possible. It talks in very practical terms of what we can do to have a great first 90 days – the alliances we should form, the quick wins we should deliver, and even the mindset we should have coming in.

I have made multiple bets on my career – jumping from one role to another. And in each jump, the First 90 Days became my guide.

Book of Proverbs

Author: King Solomon

How should one live his life? How should one lead? How should one think of fame, fortune, sex, faith, honor, work, and other things? These book answers that. You don’t have to be of Christian faith to appreciate and learn from this book.

I will not talk about its contents because I can’t give it justice. I can only say that you should read it. Read one chapter a day for 31 days. Then go back and read one to 5 verses per day. If you do, you will really be enlightened.

Your Recommendations

These are the four books that have shaped my life. I would really appreciate it if you can share your favorite books too so I can read them as well. Thank you for reading. Continue being positive!

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