Three Books That Will Change Your Perspective

When I was in my early to mid-20s the books I read were almost entirely of a technical nature. At that point in my life I thought reading those types of publications were the most important thing I could do for my career because I considered myself to be in most need of knowledge. Little did I realize at the time how important it would be to supplement that knowledge with wisdom. For the record, I consider The Holy Bible to be the most important book ever written, but my faith is something I keep very close to my heart and personal which is why I do not include it in this article. This article is intended to be more about personal productivity and the psychology of professional self-improvement rather than one of faith.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
My first realization of the need for wisdom came when I was 26 years old when I had lunch with a mentor. Loren Claypool was around 35 years old at the time and I was amazed at his success, self-discipline, and knowledge. I asked him the simple question, “How do I get to where you’re at by the time I’m your age?” Loren replied with the simple answer, “I’m going to give you a book to read.” I’ve never been much of a reader so it took me at least a week to read it, maybe two weeks. I remember my best friend and roommate at the time telling me, “You were weird while you were reading that book.” He was referring to how quiet I was while I contemplated life and how the book was causing me to question all of my decisions. The book Loren assigned for my reading seemed to have the most odd and random title I could imagine. After reading it, I realized it was anything but odd or random. This book taught me to have more patience and to carefully analyze information before making decisions. In fact, nearly 10 years later I took a personality profile test that stated that I like to have information because I do not like change for the sake of change alone. For anyone struggling with life decisions, I firmly believe this book can be life changing. I’ve also read it at least four or five times in the past 25 years.

Good To Great
Oddly, the same person who suggested I take the personality profile test I mentioned above also suggested that I read Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. Unfortunately, It took me around 15 years to get around to it. Since I’m not much of a reader, I was glad by this time I was able to listen to the audio book rather than reading. Jim Collins read the book himself and honestly it ruined many audio books for me because he reads it with the same passion I imagine he would have as if he were teaching a class. After Good to Great I failed to surpass chapter two in three consecutive audio books. For someone like myself who is an information and data geek, yet consumed by business knowledge, Jim Collins’ books prove to be very enlightening as he applies real data to theories and proves them out.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
This is perhaps one of the greatest self-help books of all time. Steven Covey outlines seven simple concepts that when practiced diligently can propel your effectiveness to levels you never imagined. There are several books I considered for this slot such as The Effective Excecutive, How to Become CEO, and others, but Covey’s book edges them all out since it focuses on seven specific areas most everyone can relate to–and improve upon. The book is an easy read and not overly long. It’s also one I recommend having in hard copy.

I have an entire bookcase full of self improvement and business books and I could have selected most any three of them for this article. But when I looked at the entire set, these three stood out as having an impact on me personally that I couldn’t quite say about the rest. All three of these books are excellent reads and are sure to provide anyone with perspective they did not consider. Combining the qualities and wisdom they all bring from different angles teaches one to adhere to the old adage “Think before you speak” for different reasons. I don’t expect everyone will get the same level of wisdom out of these books as I did, but reading them with an open mind is sure to introduce you to new perspectives, nonetheless.

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  1. When my spouse and I were younger we owned 3 motorcycles. I bought the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance not understanding the Zen part. I think it is still around here somewhere and perhaps now I am almost 77 but don’t have a bike anymore I’ll try to read it in full and think about what might have been.