4 Unorthodox Books The Most Successful People Have Read Twice

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Sigmund Freud said, "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness."

He meant that working on our love and loving the work we do can help us live truly happy lives.

The latter — loving the work you do — requires that you be good at what you do. Obviously, nobody likes to be average at their work. We all want to be better than our peers and our past selves.

Hence — I’m gonna state the obvious, but that’s okay — getting ahead in your career is important for your own happiness. And I feel that these 4 books can help you do that.

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Here are 4 unorthodox books the most successful people have read twice:

1. Skip The Line by James Altucher

James Altucher is an American hedge funds manager, author, podcaster, and entrepreneur who has founded over 20 companies. And he was able to do so much by skipping the line.

We’re told by society that we have to be in line. We’re told that experience, i.e. the number of years we’ve done something, is the key to promotion. But the world is changing now, and clear-cut career trajectories don’t exist anymore.

You’ve probably heard about the 10,000 hours rule, right?

The rule by Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master at anything. In this book, James demotes the rule and says that there are concrete strategies to skip those hours.

I’m one of those readers that always looks for practical steps and takeaways. I’m all for philosophy and changing my perspective about anything, but unless and until I have some concrete steps that I can take on a daily basis, a book doesn’t seem life-changing to me.

This one did.

The reason is that this book is filled with simple doable techniques that imbibe the philosophies James Altucher shares. You can literally form habits out of the techniques he shares — like the 10 ideas rule, learning micro-skills, 10,000 experiments rule, etc and practice them daily.

And these unorthodox techniques, when done over a significant period of time, will most definitely alter the course of your career. For the better.

(I tried living like James Altucher for a month after reading this book.)


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2. Mastery by George Leonard

George Leonard was a lifelong Aikido practitioner. Having taught Aikido for decades, George Leonard did the most detailed examination of what it takes to be a master in a craft — any craft.

If you’re looking to learn how to become the best at what you do, then your search is over. This is the book.

If you try to break it down, you’ll realize that any career is just a compilation of micro-skills. If you can master all or most of those micro-skills, you can learn to be the master in your career.

This book is a complete roadmap to mastery. He first begins by sharing what the journey of mastery looks like, and also, more importantly, what it does not look like.

Trust me when I say that these graphs put everything in perspective.

Following that, George shares the 5 keys which can help any person walk, or rather, sprint on the journey of a master. And to top it all off, he also shares a list of pitfalls to avoid for becoming great at anything, including your career. Truly, it’s one of the greatest books ever written.


3. The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

The 10x rule is a book with a simple premise — take your goals and multiply them by 10. And also multiply the efforts needed by 10. That’s all the 10x rule is.

So, do you really need to read the entire book to understand this simple premise? Well, I think you do.

As Grant explains in the book, most people aim too small. Why? Because we feel that aiming high also exposes us to potential higher disappointment if we fail to achieve our goals. Hence, we try to avoid that exposure altogether by chasing smaller goals instead.

Except, there are a few problems with smaller goals.

First, they’re uninspiring. They’re so small that they aren’t even powerful enough to get your butt off the bed. This will make it harder to even start working on those goals.

Second, they have a low payoff. Small goals won’t provide you with the satisfaction and happiness that comes from doing extraordinary stuff.

Third, even if you do start chasing those goals, you’re more likely to quit when obstacles arrive because well, again, the payoff is just not worth it.

Hence, the message of this book is simple. Aim hard. Work harder.

But setting smaller goals is a habit that won’t go off so easily. It’s a habit that is pushed by society, endorsed by your fear, and supported by our inherent laziness.

That is why, you need to constantly hammer yourself with the importance of setting big goals — and the right way to do that — is to bring a lasting perspective shift.

That is why you need to read this book. By repeating the importance of the 10x rule in multiple ways, this book is perfect for rewiring your brain to adopt the life-changing habit of setting and achieving extraordinary goals. It can particularly help your career a lot because Grant shares a lot about how he excelled in his own career in this book.


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4. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

This is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s a little book that asks you to make a simple switch that makes all the difference.

What switch are we talking about? Simple. The switch from being an amateur to a pro.

Ask yourself this. When people look at you, how do they see you in relation to your craft? Do they see an amateur? Or do they see a professional?

Steven says that much of our lack of success and our happiness in life comes from being amateurs. We don’t take our craft; our career seriously enough. And that in turn brings misery.

The solution, of course, is to start taking our craft seriously, which means, turning professional.

But turning pro isn’t easy. There’s this thing that we call resistance — the force that keeps us from putting in the work. Resistance stops us from being professional.

Turning Pro is Steven Pressfield’s little manual that shows people how he learned to defeat the resistance himself. In the book, he shares some key differences between an amateur and a pro. Examples —

  • The amateur tweets. The pro works.
  • In the face of uncertainty and doubt, the amateur chooses distraction, while the pro chooses to do the work instead.
  • The sure sign of an amateur is he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow. And the pro starts right now.

If you want to get serious about your thing, whatever that may be, finish this book, mark the date in your calendar and declare to the world that you have turned pro. And trust me, life is much better after turning pro.


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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.