Though it wasn’t my intention back in June, Summer 2014 proved to be the summer I read a whole lot of books in the so-called “self-help” category. The reading started rather innocuously. James Scott Bell, a thriller writer, wrote a blog post about an old book by Dorthea Brande. I read that book, and that got the pages turning. One book led to another. I broke out a brand new composition notebook. My wife called it “my secret project” because I wouldn’t tell her what I was reading or why I was spending all my free time filling pages with handwritten notes.
I’ve thought about writing this post for sometime but never could figure out how to do it without spilling my guts all over the place. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, this book helped me.” It’s something else entirely to say, “And now I will tell you in shocking detail just how it helped.” Let’s just agree these books were helpful. Very helpful. I’ll make a little annotation after each to get you a general idea of what you might learn by reading one (or all) of them. Finally, I’d rather not waste my time looking up links to each of these; if you’re reading this blog, you know what to do.
Here’s what I read. Here’s the order in which I read them. And here’s the general take-away from each book.
1) Dorthea Brande, Wake Up And Live! The thesis is simple. Stop saying you “can’t” do something. Stop telling yourself that you’re “going to fail.”
2) Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Education of a Bodybuilder. Forget what everyone else thinks is possible. The only way to achieve your goals is to work like hell. (A personal note: For someone struggling with self-doubt, ask yourself if you’re really working as hard as you can.)
3) Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within. Despite Robbins over-the-top writing, I’ve come to believe in the basic “Robbins’ doctrine”: success and failure are rooted in how you talk to yourself, in your internal communication.
4) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall. Arnold’s autobiography. Biggest lesson: You need to see it before you can make it happen. You need to convince yourself it is possible before you can do it.
5) Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics. Despite its off-putting title, this book is all about visualization (think: Schwarzenegger) and self-communicaiton (think: Robbins). The best of the lot, but maybe that’s because when this book brought together everything I had read in the other books.