It is conceivable that I would be able to achieve my goal of 75 plus books this year. Last year, I didn’t even come close but this is the year of everything. The year to make it happen.
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More fiction, but this time lots of historical fiction. What’s interesting here is that the fiction part could very well be true. It is the history of the greatest fighting force known to history: the mongols. It is the story of the greatest strategic commander to have ever lived: Genghis Khan.
“The strong rule. Those who are not strong dream of it.” – Conn Iggulden
Conn Iggulden has put together an a four part series on the Mongols that I consider to be excellent. Much of what we know about the Mongols comes from a single source, which makes piecing together their history nearly impossible. This is difficult to conceive because of how relatively recent the Mongols have reigned. However, what happened is not so difficult to conceive because people wanted to forget about them. The true story of Genghis was nearly lost to history because people actively sought to destroy his legacy. He was portrayed as a night terror, another beast from the wilds of Mongolia.
Much of the story of Genghis has surely been lost, but Iggulden does a good part of filling in the blanks based on what we do know about the mongols. As a true admirer of the great khan’s abilities, I highly recommend this series for anyone- but mostly for those that want a glimpse into the kind of a power a person can create for themselves. I have yet to finish the third book, but I maintain the warrior’s face in anticipation:
“The warrior’s face that gives nothing away to your enemies. It comes from a strength that has nothing to do with muscles, or how well you bend a bow. It is the heart of dignity that means you will face death with nothing but contempt. It’s secret is that it is more than a simple mask. Learning it brings its own calm, so that you have conquered fear and your flesh.”
♦ Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. The underlying premise of this book is that talent is not innate. Greatness is made through hours of deliberate practice, an effort that is monotonous, painful, but extremely effective in producing world-class efforts. There are countless examples of how environment, combined with a self-induced “rage to master” has produced history’s most recognized names. Mozart, for one, was a product of his upbringing and his father’s obsessive emphasis to teach and mentor his son. Jerry Rice is the most prolific NFL wide receiver in history but his athletic attributes are sub par at best. His secret: extreme physical conditioning, every day for several years. Eventually, he built a base of fitness that allowed him to triumph over defenders late into the game. There are very few other books that have motivated me more than this one because it implies that greatness can be trained. Anyone can become what they want, if they stay focused in the long-term and continuously put themselves in uncomfortable positions. Do what others won’t today, so you can have what others want tomorrow. My post for the Outwork Book Club is here.
♦ Hero by Rhonda Byrne. The Hero’s Journey is captured in Byrne’s follow up book to The Secret. The Secret is immensely popular but I found Hero to be much more inspiring and actionable. It provides techniques and advice to build on the Law of Attraction– going beyond just positive thinking. It paves a path of belief, visualization, heart (gratitude & kindness), commitment and the universe that leads to victory through one’s ultimate quest. Byrne captures many of the most critical mental tools that a person can develop into well-written narrative that gave me conviction in my own journey. The Hero urges you to start your quest, to go after what you really want. Life is short! (24,869 total days can be expected)
“Be the hero of your own story- you were born with immensely powerful abilities within that can enable you to realize your dreams.” -Rhonda Byrne
♦ Never Let Go by Dan John. It is a philosophy of lifting, living, and learning. Lifting heavy weights can teach you a lot about yourself. It will force you to look inward to find strength. During this inward gaze, one will also see many other things. Dan John, as I previously mentioned in this post, is the quintessential academic strongman. He is a religious studies teacher that sits on fitness centered panels with sport scientists and PhDs. Incredibly, many times the audience mostly wants to hear him talk. He has the unique ability to make the complex simple and to make the simple even simpler. He has over 30 years of empirical evidence as a lifelong competitive athlete and is undisputed in templating unconventional methods for real world results. For example, consider this paradigm shift: if it’s important, do it everyday. This is a great book for any fitness enthusiast, seasoned or beginner. It will help shape the way you think about training and lifting in general, providing some baseline principles for a lifetime of fitness and excellence.
♦ The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. The bible of success, this book is a complete approach to personal transformation. It includes all of the lessons and insights that Canfield has gained from over 30 years success. He is the creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series and has been invited to speak on practically every major talk show in America in addition to routinely conversing with some of the best across industries. It would be too much to highlight every single principle but the first principle is perhaps the most important: take 100% responsibility for your life. Give up giving excuses and make it happen, because you are the only person that can do it for yourself. Taking 100% responsibility is not easy as we often fall victim to blaming: our parents, our friends, teachers, society, the government, politicians, the system, and our genetics. Nothing matters for success except your own personal convictions to make it happen. You only have control over three things in your life: the thoughts you think, the images you visualize, and the actions you take (your behavior). Ensure that you change negative thoughts to positive ones, change your habits, change what you read, and change your friends if necessary.
In Pursuit of Excellence
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