The one book you should read this year.

I am constantly trying to enhance the performance of my brain. I don’t do it with aftermarket parts. Or with surgery. Or with drugs. Although I have heard some really good things about drugs from my crack dealer friends.

Reading Rainbow

I enhance the performance of my brain by reading books. I read as much as I can. As a result, my thinking keeps improving. With each book I read I become more capable, insightful, empathetic and resourceful. I am collecting dots and connecting dots. And today I arrive at better ideas faster than ever before. Granted, I had a lot of room for improvement.

The One Recommendation

If you want to improve your thinking and your doing, I highly recommend reading The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This #1 Wall Street Journal Best Seller is one of the most influential books I have read in the past 20 years.

Focus

The One Thing’s main focus is to teach you how to focus your thinking and your efforts. We are often faced with a brazillion things we could do with our time. As a result, we often do nothing. Or the easiest thing, the closest thing, or the most urgent thing. But not the one most important thing to help us get to our goals.

There is no trickery to this book. It is simple and logical. Yet it is eye-opening and insightful. (Although opening your eyes is typically outsightful, right?)

Dominoes Delivers

The books starts by encouraging you to look at your actions like knocking down dominoes (the game piece, not the pizza joint). We need to focus on the first domino, and then the next, with purpose. By doing so we can make great things happen, one domino at a time.

Dominos from the one thing
This is how your actions work.

Determining Your Priorities.

The book shines a spotlight on the erroneous short term thinking that typically fills our daily to-do list. It points out the critical difference between a To-do list and a Success List. A key lesson here is, ‘That which matters most should never take a backseat to that which matters least.’  In other words, your priorities need to call ‘Shotgun!’

80/20

Keller and Papasan explore the 80/20 rule of Pareto Efficiency, which states that 80 percent of your results come from 20% of your effort. (Not that 80-years olds should not make out with 20-year olds. But that should also be a rule.) They then propose applying the 80/20 rule to your 20% activities. This enables you to find the most important of the most important activities to focus on.

Multitasking Vs Monotasking

The book blasts the notion of multitasking. It instead promotes the idea of complete focus. Or what I called ToFo, in the post Why you should invest more of your time in Total Focus.

66 Day Magic

The book breaks down the critical difference between self discipline, which is hard, and habits, which become easy and automatic. I loved learning that on average it takes us 66 days to create a new habit. Which means that if you made a resolution to start a new activity on January 1st, and could make it to the end of the first week of March, you would likely keep that habit rolling forever. But most people quit in January or February, and never create a new habit. Then again, those resolutioners stop coming to the gym by the beginning of February, leaving more room for me, so I am not complaining.

66 Day Habits
By 66 days habit kicks in, and self discipline is no longer necessary. You will know when you are there because a big red star fish will appear on your line.

Forget The Balanced Life

The authors share the idea that a balanced life doesn’t enable us to do amazing things. Instead we need to be constantly balancing our lives, so that we can go all in on our goals for long stretches, to create extraordinary results. Then we can balance those periods with longer stretches of time with family and friends, relaxing and recreating. But if we never get ourselves out of balance by going all-in on one thing, we will never achieve great things.

The Focusing Question

Finally, the book introduces the key focusing question for your life:

‘What is the one thing that I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’  -The One Thing By Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

This question can be asked as a big picture question, and as a small, focusing question. Meaning, it can help you discover the one thing you should be doing with your life, and what is the one thing you can do, right now, to make it happen.

The one Thing for all areas
The One Thing applies to all areas of your life.

Key Takeaway

If you want to supercharge your thinking and your actions, pick up this book. It will teach you how to focus, prioritize and act to get the most out of your precious time. It will help you think about your long term goals, and what you need to do now to achieve them. And it will help you say no to things that just don’t matter.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this book, please share this with them.

How to protect the time you need to achieve your greatest goals.

When I was a student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin my schedule was booked solid. I was at class every day by 8:55am. Classes lasted until 2pm. At 2:30pm I was at track practice. I left practice at 6pm and went to dinner. I ate at the Sports Buffet until they kicked me out at 7pm. By 7:20pm I was at Helen C. White Library studying in the quiet section (seriously). By 10:30pm I was taking the Drunk Bus home.

Focus Pocus

During this time I had something magical working for me: large chunks of time with completely focused effort. First I was totally focused on my classes. Then track practice. Then on eating (which felt like a job because I was the smallest discus thrower in the Big Ten Conference). And finally, on studying.

All 4 of these time blocks helped me focus my undivided attention on my largest life goals. Plus, there were no smart phones back then to distract me with an Instagram feed full of hilarious Pro Wrestling fails. (@Wrestlebotch)

Scheduling Focused Time

Today, I am revisiting the focused scheduling I employed as a student-athlete. As as result, I hope to achieve the same level of productivity, growth and progress I enjoyed two decades ago. That’s why I have time-blocked my calendar to help create deep focus on my most important tasks. The tasks that will help me achieve my long-term goals.

The Time Blocks On My Calendar Now Include:

  • An hour of blocked writing time every morning starting at 6am.
  • 2 hours of totally focused work on my most important tasks from 10am to Noon.
  • A regular 1-hour lunch, starting at noon every day (which also helps keep my energy high, as I wrote about in 5 Things I do to keep my work energy high.).
  • 1 hour of total focus on my most important issues in the afternoon from 2pm-3pm.
  • Dedicated open time for meetings, calls and emails to start and end the day.
  • A 30-minute planning session every Sunday night when I can plan my most important tasks for the week. Tasks that will help me achieve my long term goals.
The One Thing
Make this the next book you read.  Then let me know how much you loved it by writing me at  adam@theweaponry.com.

I loved how my calendar blocks helped me in college. But a book I am reading has influenced me to reintroduce this useful scheduling technique again. In fact, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan may be the most powerful book I have read in the past 3 years. It teaches you a system that always leads you to the one, most important thing that you should be doing at any given time, in order to help you achieve your loftiest goals. A critical part of the program is creating calendar blocks that are reserved exclusively for your total focus on your most important activities. Spoiler Alert: The one thing you should be doing at any given time never involves WrestleBotch. #PriortitiesVsDistraction

Key Takeaway

It is not enough to have goals. You need to put in the work required to achieve them. That’s why it is so important to block large chunks of time on your calendar that allow you to completely focus on your most important tasks, every day. Add a chunk of focused time for planning on Sunday evenings, and it will ensure that you make demonstrable progress each and every week. Remember, scheduling your time costs nothing. But the dividends it pays by helping you achieve your goals could be enjoyed for generations.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

A quick review of the 15 books I am reading right now.

I love to read. Reading is my primary source of education and inspiration. I read to accumulate knowledge and connect dots. As an entrepreneur I read to fill my knowledge gaps. And to discover how successful people became successful people.

I am always reading multiple books at one time. Well, not literally at one time. More in the way you watch multiple TV shows. Or listen to a several different radio stations. My reading is like written programming. But not like computer programming. Ok, now I am just confusing myself.

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It’s Gettin, It’s Gettin, It’s Gettin Kinda Hectic.

Lately I seem to have more books going at once than usual. So I gathered them all together in one place to count, compare and contemplate why I currently have so many books in progress.

I would have guessed that I had 6 different books started. So I was quite surprised to find my current mid-read book list totals 15 books! What follows is a summary of the books in my current active collection. And my review of the books so far.

The 14 Books I am Currently Reading and why.

 

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  1. Leondardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson

DaVinci is one of the greatest thinkers and creative minds in the history of the world. I thought I might learn a thing or two from him.

Thoughts so far:  I am wowed by DaVinci’s curious mind, his notebooks and how painting was a relatively small part of his life and self perception. Also, he had a lot of trouble finishing his art. In fact he only finished a small number of paintings. I guess we all have our flaws. Thanks for the reminder Leonardo! 

 

Born to run

2. Born To Run  by Christopher McDougall

This book is about a barely known ancient community in the remote mountains of Mexico that is unnaturally good at long distance running. The author is trying to gain insights from exploring these people and others who are way into ultra distance running. I picked this up because it kept showing up on my radar as a book friends had read or a hot new book, or a book available at my library. So here we are.

Thoughts so far:  This is my leading physical book right now. It is entertaining, educational and super funny. I love how it dives into the evolution of ultra marathoning. The personalities profiled are fascinating. And the overview of the various high profile races make me feel like I have learned something new. Plus, the investigation into what our running shoes are really doing for us, or not, is eye-opening, and potentially paradigm shifting. I highly recommend. Even if you are more Michelob Ultra than Ultra Marathoner.

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3. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This is the book that started a cultural phenomenon. After Lin-Manuel Miranda read this book he was inspired to create his famous broadway show about Hamilton. I wanted some of the same inspiration. So I picked up the audiobook at my local library.

Thoughts so far: Wow! What a life Hamilton lived! It started rough. And ended moronically.  #AaronBurr  But in the middle of his life he became one of the most influential men in history. Especially if you think The United States has been an influential institution. Which I do.

 

Destiny and Power

4. Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham

My wife gave me this book after President George Herbert Walker Readmylips Notgonnadoit Thousandpointsoflight Bush passed away. This biography of Bush Senior was even more interesting to me because I watched the funerals of George and Barbara Bush on TV. Jon Meacham spoke at both, and was fantastic. I wanted to hear more of the Bush story from his perspective.

Thoughts so far: This book is great. Bush was super interesting, and his story is told extremely well. Starting with the night he lost his re-election bid to Hilary Clinton’s husband. I look forward to more. But not yet. Wouldn’t be prudent.

George Lucas

5. George Lucas by Brian Jay Jones

Lucas knows a thing or two about making interesting ideas come to life. I wanted a glimpse at his process and his path.

Thoughts so far:  I am not totally sucked in yet. The force of this book is the weakest with me right now.

The Millionaire RE Investor

6. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan

I own a rental home and would like to add more real estate investments to my portfolio. I study the real estate investment space a lot through books and podcasts. This book came up over and over as the go-to guide for real estate investors.

Thoughts so far:  This book is excellent. It is exactly what I was hoping it would be. It is inspirational. It is clearly a resource book, and not just an interesting read. If you are thinking about buying real estate as an investment you should read this book. Plus it has that yellow starburst on the cover. Which is the international symbol for ‘Buy Me!’

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7. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles

This is the biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. I love reading about business people who totally dominated. And he totally dominated like few others in history have. Other than maybe Rockefeller, Carnegie and the Gangnam Style guy. I first picked this book up at the library when I lived in Atlanta. But because it is about 800 pages long I couldn’t finish it in one 3-week session. So I asked for it as a Christmas gift last year and started again from the beginning.

Thoughts so far:  Vanderbilt was a badass. His focus, vision and determination were like weapons. He was such an imposing force that everyone referred to him as the Commodore, despite the fact that he never served in the military or sang with Lionel Richie. However, he was not a model father or husband. Although I have been to his son’s shack outside Asheville, North Carolina. So I know he ends up spreading the wealth around. But that hasn’t come up yet. If you want to be inspired by a hard-driving, take-no-prisoners tycoon, this is the book for you.

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8. Soar!  by T.D. Jakes

My parents attend a major book publisher’s annual clearance event in Indianapolis every year. I am always a beneficiary of their annual treasure hunt. They find business books, biographies, sports stories and other titles they think I’d like. Then they surprise me with a delicious new pile every year. This book was in the pile this year. I took it with me on a recent trip to Seattle and read a good chunk of it on my return flight.

Thoughts so far:  Jakes is a good, motivating writer who plays the part of both inspiring  entrepreneur and uplifting pastor. The book is best for those who are looking for inspiration to spread their wings and launch their first business.  3 years into my entrepreneurial journey I found it entertaining and nice. But I didn’t need the heavy doses of encouragement.

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9. On Writing by Stephen King

I like to rummage through the book section of Goodwill Stores for hidden gems and good deals. This was both. King is one of the most prolific and broad-ranging writers in America. So I was curious to hear what he had to say about the art of writing itself.

Thoughts so far: I have found this book interesting, although I haven’t really gotten to his writing advice yet. He begins the book with a biographical sketch of his life, starting with his surprisingly challenging childhood. So the story is good so far. But I am still not to the part where he teaches me how to write Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Shawshank Redemption), The Body (Stand By Me) or The Shining. But when he does, I expect this blog will get a lot awesomer.

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10. The Hustle Economy  by Jason Oberholtzer and Jessica Hagy

This is another book I received from my parents, courtesy of the annual publisher’s book sale. The book is a collection of 3 to 6 page essays from creative thinkers who have used their creativity to create their own streams of income. Some have started businesses. Some are freelancers. But they all have something to say about how they did it and what you can learn from their independent creative hustle.

Thoughts So Far. I read 80% of this book on my recent flight to Seattle. It was light enough reading that it made for a nice plane book that I could fly through. It is a good book to read in a day. The chapters are short. There are fun little illustrations, charts and diagrams that are insightful and entertaining. And I found little nuggets or quotes to take away with me. Plus I knew one of the writers, Drew Collins, from Columbus. So that was a fun discovery.

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11. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Napoleon Hill had a conversation with Andrew Carnegie, who had more money than Davey Crocket and the whole cast of Dynasty combined. Carnegie told Hill that he should study successful people and find out what they had in common. So he did. Hill wrote one of the best selling books of all time as a result.

Thoughts So Far: I have read this book several times. It is a reference book. An inspirational book. A how-to success guide. I think everyone should own this and reread it once a year. Right now I am reading a page or two at night. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t read it put it on your list now. And if your name is Rich, it will really help you think and grow.

 

The One Thing

12. The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

I love listening to The Bigger Pockets Podcast on real estate investing. At the end of the podcast they ask each guest to name their favorite real estate book and their favorite business book. I write all of the answers down. This book came up as a guest favorite over and over. So I ordered it.

Thoughts So Far: As the title alludes to, this book is about focus. I love the message. It is a great reminder of the power of focusing on the most important thing in front of you. I look forward to reading more of this. But, you know, I have 14 other books vying for my attention.

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13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

This is the first book in the Harry Potter series. I am reading it for the 4th time. I read it once on my own. Then read the next 2 books in the series of 7. But I decided that I didn’t have enough time to read all 7 of these children’s books, so I stopped. Then I had kids. I have read this book to my daughter, Ava, and my son Johann. Now I am reading it to my baby boy, Magnus, who turned 9 yesterday.

Thoughts so far:  This books is fun to read, and just as entertaining the fourth time around. It is really fun to read with kids, because each kid sees it with their own sense of wonder. Magnus is no different. It is such a good story and such a fun series that I may decide to take Magnus through all 7 books. We’ll see. We’re just a couple of Muggles after all.

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14. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is an all time classic. The title tells you everything you need to know. Friends and influence are important elements of success and happiness. This book takes a very positive approach to both. I have read this book twice on my own. Now I am reading it with my 12-year old son Johann.

Thoughts so far:  Everything in this book is gold. It is a reference book that we should all keep on hand and revisit often. I love reading this with Johann. Because he brings up examples of people who are good at the points made in the book.  There are constant aha’s on his face. And when we recap a chapter I know he has learned important principles of friendship and influence. I highly recommend reading this with kids. (Look at me trying to positively influence people!)

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15. Rich Dad. Poor Dad.

When I first heard about this book I thought is sounded like a cheesy, infomercially, get-rich-quick book. So I avoided it for a long time. But I kept hearing about it from people I respected. So eventually I picked it up from the library. And it changed my outlook on money forever.

This book compares and contrast how rich people and poor people view money differently. It provides an eye-opening look at assets and liabilities that everyone needs to know. I now own this book and have read it several times. I am currently reading this with my 13-year old daughter, Ava. Clearly I am trying to be more Rich Dad than Poor Dad.

Thoughts So Far:  Reading this with Ava makes me feel like a good parent. I feel like I am taking her through a college course in junior high. I can tell she is seeing the world differently now that she has almost finished reading this. This may be the most important book I have ever read to her. Sorry Goodnight Moon and Harold And The Purple Crayon.

Key Takeaway

There are more great books to read than you will ever have time to read in one lifetime. That’s why it’s fun to keep many books going at once. They satisfy your needs for learning and growing. They entertain you. The feed your curiosity. And they make you feel more learn-ed (say that with a Forrest Gump accent).

Plus, it is easier to tackle dense, long and challenging books when you give yourself a break by switching up to a light and easy read once in a while. #AtlasShrugged #WarAndPeace #TheBible  If you haven’t tried multiple books at once, give it a shot. It just might spice up your reading life, and show you just how much is out there to discover.