It’s a tiny book with some powerful principles on how to create the right philosophy to be successful. It's not just for sales people. The principles this book teaches could be applied by anyone.
Og Mandino published the Greatest Salesman in the World, in 1968 at the age of 45. It was his first book. It was also his most successful book. In all, Og has sold more than 50 Million copies of his 19 books!
During WWII, Og was a bombardier, flying 30 missions over Germany. After the military, he became an insurance salesman, but he just couldn't get his life together. He became estranged from his wife and young child, developed a drinking problem, and was contemplating suicide, when he went to a library and started reading self-help books. The one he credits with changing his life is Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and Clement Stone (I've put it on the list to review). He was so moved by the book that he took a job with Clement Stone's sales organization working his way up and breaking sales records.
Fun fact: actor Matthew McConaughey says the book changed his life. He started reading it right before taking exams to go to law school and says that it gave him the courage to pursue acting.
The book is a parable about a young man named Hafid in in Biblical times. Hafid gets his hands on 10 Scrolls that hold the secret to becoming successful. You're supposed to read each scroll 3 times a day, morning, noon and night for a month straight before you move onto the next. So, in theory, the book should take you 10 months to read.
Top 3 Takeaways:
"The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure."
"One step at a time is not too difficult. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. I will persist until I succeed."
"Action, alone, is the tinder which ignites my dreams, my plan, my goals, into a living force. Action is the food and drink which will nourish my success. I will act now."
Potential life impact: 8
Fun to read: 7
Likely to recommend it to others: 9
Amazing conversations that it can start: 9
Total score: 8.25
When I want to read it with True:
I cannot wait to read this book with True. I've already told him about it. I think it would be best in the 11th grade. That's my current plan.
I love this little book.
I will say, that in the final two chapters, it takes a hard left turn towards Christianity. And that’s either going to be bonus content for you, or you can ignore it, it doesn't negate any of the books value. Just know that it's coming, and it will be less jarring.
It's a book I want to keep close by so that I can review it again and again.
"I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. "
"I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered into this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny. I will persist until I succeed."
"Only action determines my value in the market place and to multiply my value I will multiply my actions."
"If I become overconfident I will recall my failures. If I overindulge I will think of past hungers. If I feel complacency I will remember my competition. If I enjoy moments of greatness I will remember moments of shame. If I feel all-powerful I will try to stop the wind. If I attain great wealth I will remember one unfed mouth. If I become overly proud I will remember a moment of weakness. If I feel my skill is unmatched I will look at the stars. Today I will be master of my emotions."
"My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, prejudice, greed, love, fear, environment, habit, and the worst of these tyrants is habit. Therefore, if I must be a slave to habit let me be a slave to good habits. My bad habits must be destroyed and new furrows prepared for good seed."
"As a child I was slave to my impulses; now I am slave to my habits, as are all grown men."
"I can accomplish far more than I have, and I will, for why should the miracle that produced me end with my birth? Why can I not extend that miracle to my deeds of today?"
(Note: this quote isn't from the book, but it's an Og quote I had to include). Most of us hide behind our busy work. Most of us spend too much time doing things we think are important because they are disguised as urgent. Most people don't really do what's important for their own success. They always seem to be "too busy" to succeed.
The Big Idea:
To beat the overconfidence effect in yourself and others you need to argue like you're right but listen like you're wrong.
Adam Grant was the youngest tenured professor at Wharton School, receiving tenure at the age of 28. He specializes in organizational psychology. He has been Wharton's top-rated professor for seven straight years.
He's authored four New York Times Bestselling books. Think Again is his latest work, published in 2021. It has 12,000 customer reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.6/5.
Fun fact: Grant was named an All-American springboard diver in 1999 and he worked as a professional magician during college.
Top 3 Takeaways:
The smarter you are, the more likely you are to fall for overconfidence and the harder it is to see your own limitations.
"The goal is not to be wrong more often. It's to recognize that we're all more often than we'd like to admit, and the more we deny it, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves."
To check your overconfidence, you should think like a scientist.
This means seeing your ideas as hypothesis that require testing and retesting.
It helps to define yourself by your values rather than your opinions. People often feel as if admitting they are wrong about an opinion is somehow letting themselves down. If you remove your opinions from your self-concept, and instead identify with values like curiosity and flexibility, changing your mind will be a lot less scary.
Invite others to question your thinking.
Strategies for helping others change their mind:
Use fewer arguments. Don't think of all the reasons you are right, the fewer strong points you make the more likely you are to succeed.
Use questions to convince rather than statements. Here are three examples of better questions:
Question how rather than why. When people describe why they hold extreme views, they often intensify their commitment and double down. When they try to explain how they would make their views a reality, they often realize the limits of their understanding and start to temper some of their opinions.
Ask "What evidence would change your mind?" You can't bully someone into agreeing with you. It's often more effective to inquire about what would open their minds, and then see if you can convince them on their own terms.
Ask how people originally formed an opinion. Many of our opinions, like our stereotypes, are arbitrary; we've developed them without rigorous data or deep reflection. To help people reevaluate, prompt them to consider how they'd believe different things if they'd been born at a different time or in a different place.
Potential life impact: 5
Fun to read: 7
Likely to recommend it to others: 4
Amazing conversations that it can start: 6
Total score: 5.5
I don't know of another business book that more people have owned but not read. Which is ironic. I was one of those people. My neighbor Becky kept telling me how much it aligned with my curiosity work, and in my head I was like, "Yea, yea, I teach this stuff, what could I possibly learn?" And the answer is quite a lot.
This book should be required reading for every senior leader. And it would be of significant value to parents, teachers, politicians, and those of us who don't want to stop growing and improving ourselves.
At What Age Will I Share it With My Kids?
I think this is a post-college book. Likely a book I will share with them when they take on positions of leadership.
"Intelligence is traditionally viewed as the ability to think and learn. Yet in a turbulent world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn."
"Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong. Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel as if we're losing a part of ourselves."
"Biases don't just prevent us from applying our intelligence. They can actually contort our intelligence into a weapon against the truth."
"If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom."
"Thinking like a scientist involves more than just reacting with an open mind. It means being actively open minded. It requires searching for reasons why we might be wrong."
From Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio, "If you don't look back at yourself and think, 'Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,' then you must not have learned much last year."
"If being wrong repeatedly leads us to the right answer, the experience of being wrong itself can become joyful."
"We learn more from people who challenge our thought process than those who affirm our conclusions. Strong leaders engage their critics and make themselves stronger."
"Starting a disagreement by asking, "Can we debate?" Sends a message that you want to think like a scientist…and encourages the other person to think that way, too."
"Listening well is more than a matter of talking less. It starts with showing more interest in other people's interests rather than trying to judge their status or prove our own."
"Great listeners are more interested in making their audience feel smart."
The Big Idea:
Every minute you spend thinking about the past or the future is causing you suffering and pain. Neither of these are real. The only things that's real is the present and helping yourself stay in the present is the key to unlocking peacefulness and joy in your life.
The book is basically a covert book about Buddhism, with some sprinkles of mysticism and Christianity references to make it appeal to a wider audience.
Published in 1997, the book exploded when Oprah recommended it in O magazine in 2000. It has sold over 5 million copies. You likely have it on your shelf but haven't gotten all the way through. It's got over 42,000 4.5 star reviews on Amazon and just this week it was in the top 20 books sold on Amazon 😮.
Fun fact: When Paris Hilton was incarcerated for a month in 2007, she brought a copy of The Power of Now to jail. Other celebrity fans include: Kobe Bryant, Jim Carrey, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Top 4 Takeaways:
If you cannot be free from your mind whenever you want, to turn off thinking about the past or future when you want, then you are a slave to it. Compulsive thinking is an addiction. And like any addiction it's wreaking havoc in your life and causing pain.
To the ego, the present moment is not important. It is obsessed with the past and the future. It makes you a victim of the past and anxious about the future. It resists being in the present moment. This is how all of our pain and suffering is created, by our mind's insistence on time travel.
I've actually started to think of my ego as Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino – a character from the popular MTV reality show, The Jersey Shore. If you can make the things your ego tells you sound like someone other than yourself, you're one step closer to being aware when it's trying to negatively influence you.
If you can learn to stay in the present, you can free yourself from all that pain and suffering. The easiest way to do this is to take focus away from where the mind wants to go and pay close attention to the body. You can focus on your breathing, observe what's happening around you, and even think about the emotions you're feeling in the 3rd person -> as if you are observing it.
A great test of whether you are present: Ask yourself – is there joy, ease and lightness in what I'm doing right now? If not, your mind is likely causing stress by thinking about the past or future.
Potential life impact: 9
Fun to read: 4
Likely to recommend it to others: 2
Amazing conversations that it can start: 4
Total score: 4.75
I've never highlighted a book more and at the same time been completely unable to discuss it with others. Most of my conversations have been like, "so, The Power of Now…" and then they say, "yea, really powerful stuff" and that's pretty much it.
To be clear, it's been really impactful for me personally. I love the test question mentioned in #4 above and I love what's it's done for my marriage. It's allowed me to keep from getting sucked into silly arguments that would have previously turned into a thing. I am able to be present enough to see that it doesn't really matter if I'm right. That's the ego afraid for its own survival.
With that said, I believe that this book is an advanced reader. I wouldn't recommend as one of the first books for someone just getting into this work. And I'm on the hunt for a book that explains the same concepts in a better way.
Other quotes I loved:
"Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life."
"Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now."
"The present moment is all you have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life."
"What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly."
“I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.”
“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”
“…the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions.”
“Don't look for peace. Don't look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender”
“Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you Being. Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real. Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
“Once you have identified with some form of negativity, you do not want to let it go, and on a deeply unconscious level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard-done by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. It is also insane.”
“Accept — then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
READY TO FLEX YOUR CURIOSITY MUSCLE?
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