It goes without saying that one of the best ways to forge ahead in life is to be around those who have walked the journey you would like to travel.
Commonly referred to as mentors, these are the people who will guide you. They have learned from their errors and ideally, it is their wisdom that you would like to leverage to avoid common mistakes and get to your own destination quicker. These are the people who will help you
But we know that not all mentors are great. We also know that those who are really awesome have time limitations. They can only be at one place at a time. As a result of their demand, their time is expensive. To get their time and attention, you will need to pay big bucks.
Having said the above, there is one way of getting the best in a cost-effective way. That is through reading novels written by these esteemed men and women. As Lailah Gifty Akita put it: “Great mentorship is priceless.”
Here are 10 books you can read to enable you to forge ahead in life in your leadership, career, and entrepreneurship endeavours.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carneige
People are the most important resource in life. Ideas come from people. People consume your products and services. People produce the products and services you sell. In a world that has advanced in leaps and bounds technologically, we should never forget that people trump technology on any given day.
This book will teach you how to express your ideas, assume leadership, and make people enthusiastic. Equally important, it teaches you how to make people feel valued and appreciated. First published in 1936, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide. Clearly, there’s no going wrong with this book.
2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
Often called America’s number leadership authority, Maxwell was identified as the most popular leadership expert in the world by Inc. magazine in 2014, and he has been voted the top leadership professional six years in a row on LeadershipGurus.net.
This book focuses on aspects of your life that are irrefutable: constant and timeless. Whether you are in New York or Johannesburg, in the 18th or 21st century, these are laws you can entrench into your life eternally.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey has been instrumental in shifting my paradigms in life.
While it is awesome to read and have knowledge, what really matters is application. Not only application, but consistent and permanent application of knowledge that will change your life. In this book Steve Covey focuses on how to change for good through changed habits, a struggle faced by millions of people who know the right thing but who never really master the willpower to realize that change over a long and sustained period in their life.
4. Long Walk To Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
This book depicts the true personification of selflessness, a quality possessed by one of the greatest leaders of all time.
I honestly don’t know how I would have responded after 27 years of imprisonment under a regime that oppressed every ounce of my humanity. I don’t know how I would have responded to a system that cost me two marriages and segregated me from my family, passion, and life course.
In this book, Mandela teaches us how we can respond to the most trying of circumstances and come out victorious.
5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
We often get told to “embrace our weaknesses” and turn them into opportunities.
While that is true, it is half the story. The reality is that you become less effective in life if you spend most of your time working against your natural talents and gifts. Yet we are often quick to apply for jobs that have very little to do with our natural abilities. And then we spend most of our lives collecting salaries that bring complete frustration and stagnation to our lives.
This book helps you tap into your strong points. It then encourages you to focus most of your time working on your strengths and enhancing. It comes with a fantastic online assessment tool that has been completed by more than 2 million people.
6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Oftentimes, it seems like the work place is geared at those who are vocal and assertive. “They speak their minds” is one phrase you’ll hear often, coupled with “that’s why they get what they want”.
It seems too easy for the extrovert to get ahead in the workplace. But, in this highly vocal and noisy world, the workplace needs introverts. There is an incredibly important role for those who are ‘quiet’. This book, in an engaging and easy-to-read fashion, explores introversion and its value in modern day society. It also highlights the inter-dependent relation between introverts and extroverts.
7. ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko
Entrepreneurship is about solving problems. All products and services that customers buy are bought on the premise that the product or service will solve a problem. On the back-end of solving a problem is a solution. Some solutions are rocket science while others are very basic.
When you think of Groupon, the magnitude of simplicity cannot be further highlighted. According to a December 2010 report conducted by Groupon’s marketing association and reported in Forbes magazine and the Wall Street Journal, Groupon was “projecting that the company is on pace to make $1 billion in sales faster than any other business, ever.”
They are the fastest company to make $1 billion in sales from a simple solution — giving discounts. ThinkerToys taps into this ability to develop and improve our creative flair.
8. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Ever been told “you need money to make money”?
I’ve come across entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, but crushed spirits because they ‘did not have enough money to start the business’. This book highlights the importance of entrepreneurs finding their passion. Once that’s done, they need to work on that passion in a creative way that has the potential to solve problems in a profitable way.
Passion and problem-solving attract support, including monetary support. In other words, even though money is need to fire up ideas, you don’t need to have the money upfront. In a world where entrepreneurs chase overnight riches, the book highlights the need to start small and grow humble beginnings organically and authentically.
9. “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday
To be a successful entrepreneur, you’ve got to be positive, driven and a visionary. I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
But, that’s the nice and rosy side to entrepreneurship. The flipside of that is that you WILL fail.
Where’s there’s creativity and ideas, there’ll be testing and failing. Where there’s passion, there’ll be plenty of frustration. Where there’s monetary resources required, you’ll have many a door shut in your face. Sadly, most entrepreneurs freak out when they come across obstacles that lead to temporary failure. Yet, failing is all part and parcel of the journey to success. Failing simply means you are coming across obstacles that will inspire you to be creative and a problem-solver.
As such, failing is NOT failure. This book will teach you how to turn your obstacles into opportunities, thereby turning your failing points into success stories.
10. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
We live in a world of convention. We get told to study hard, get a well-paying job, or start a business that pays us well. Then we’ll enjoy the sweet taste of success, they say. In all this, we seldom get told about the power of time freedom over financial freedom. As a result, many people get to the pinnacle of their success and still feel a void. One that feels like a trap. A trap that often robs you of your time.
In this book, Timothy Ferriss highlights tools you can use as an entrepreneur to create and run automated businesses that give you time freedom.
As an entrepreneur who has worked eight years in the corporate world, I’ve experienced the power of these books manifest in my life.
Mentors are vital. We all need them to get ahead in life and contribute meaningfully on earth. With all the time and monetary limitations that come with accessing the best mentors, it becomes incredibly difficult to access them in person.
With books though, you have the power to tap into the wealth of wisdom that these great individuals have to offer. I hope you’ll find these books incredibly useful as you forge your way to a life of success and fulfilment.