Life is about continuous improvement

Are you a reader? Whether you are or are not, consider this: “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are,” – Max De Pree. I’m willing to argue that the most accessible tool, the one that empowers continuous improvement, is reading.

Now for a confession: I’m not an avid book reader, at least in the traditional sense. I know you’re thinking, “What the heck is this guy preaching about then?” I know. It seems a bit hypocritical for me to give the advice that you must read continuously. Sure, I have several friends who easily read a book a week, but I’ve never been able to. I do read constantly though; newspapers, newsletters, blogs, articles, magazines. But I think of myself as more of a selective reader; I take cues from others who have a similar quest in the continuous development practice and follow. If it happens to be a book I’ll read it or at least skim it.

But gone are the days when you have to head to Chapters or Barnes and Noble to find your next read. Online sources like Kindle, iTunes and Amazon offer a quick and easy way to find books, whether they’ve been recommended or you’re looking for something on a particular topic. It’s literally as easy as the cliché “click of a mouse.” I can proudly say that I’ve moved into the current technologically absorbed era and now download books to my iPad using the Kindle app (very cool). I find it’s one of the most effective ways for a non-read-a-book-a-week kind of guy to easily reference any number of books. The great thing about downloadable books is that they’re cheaper (most times at least $10 cheaper than the print version), easier to access (don’t have to get special books ordered in; or wait in the queue at the library) and sometimes they’re even free (who doesn’t like free stuff?)!

So in light of continuous learning, I’d like to share my top ten books with you. (And I must admit it was a challenge to keep it to ten).

Todd Millar’s Top Ten READS:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

3. Powerful Conversation by Phil Harkin’s

4. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

6. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapma

7. Life Launch by Fredric Hudson

8. The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni

9. Daily Inspiration by Napoleon Hill

10. Building Social Business by Muhammad Yunus

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This is my all time-favorite motivational personal development book; it has taught me the true secret to the pursuit of the life’s real riches and inspired me to strive for them. For me, the key lesson is that when you apply the principles in the book to your own life “your riches” will come.

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

Great leaders inspire me. I often find myself reflecting on how they hone their leadership craft with such ease while others, who have great intelligence, have no capacity to lead. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership fleshes out the bases of strong leadership in straightforward terms. Each law is natural to embrace and deploy. Try to apply these lessons and your leadership capabilities in life and business will flourish.

3. Powerful Conversation by Phil Harkins

I’ve had the privilege of attending a program put on by Phil Harkins Company Linkage Inc. at the Global Institute of Leadership Development. When you talk, do people listen? This book is an incredible resource in how to develop exceptional communication that will engage others in effective conversation or “Powerful Conversation”. If you believe that the way to get the most out of life is being heard, then you’ll want to read this; Phil nails how to engage in successful communication in a easy to follow model.

4. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Start by visiting YouTube here.

What did you think? Isn’t that an extremely interesting angle to leadership and marketing? Doesn’t it get you thinking about how to approach anything you have ever bought or sold by asking yourself “Why?”

5. The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle

Is there a shift going on around us? Some authors talk as if we’re in an altered period of time that’s so unique that we’re approaching an awakening of sorts. The Power of Now encourages the reader to delve into their truest self with the explicit intention of realizing ultimate personal growth and spirituality. I must admit this was a challenging read for me; I also enlisted the aid of the audio version as well. I’ve listened several times and each time I find myself more deeply understanding Tolle’s teachings. In my opinion, very cool considerations to live by in life and leadership.

6. The 5 Love Languages Gary Chapman

How do you keep the “love tank” full? The 5 Love Languagesspecifically explains each one of the love languages and how they’re communicated. The key message of the book is that people have unique personality preferences for what they find satisfying and motivating. So it easily transcends from home to the workplace. I’ve used the knowledge I’ve gained from the book in business as well. Ultimately, if you know what takes to make a person feel complete and appreciated, you can apply it just about anywhere!

7. Life Launch Fredric Hudson

Life Launch was introduced to me through TEC (the executive committee) work where I coach CEO’s. The Fredric Model is a thought-provoking view of the cycle or patterns of our life and how we progress through different periods of time. It’s more than just a leadership or business book; it directly influences the appreciation you’ll have for your 360-degree life.

8. The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni

It’s hard to pick just one of Patrick Lencioni’s books. He’s written several in his crisp, token style.The five temptations of a CEO is written as a leadership fable. Lencioni nails it by sharing this fable in a way that will make you consider the type of leader you believe you are. He takes you through a self-assessment in the true spirit of continuous improvement. In my opinion, any aspiring or current leader should read his work to enhance their craft.

9. Daily Inspiration by Napoleon Hill

This book is a reinforcement of the case that was made in Think and Grow Rich. The brief quote for the day is one discipline that keeps everything in check. I would mention that the title of this book references “for men”, but it goes without saying that the daily inspiration are words that are for everyone.

10. Building Social Business Muhammad Yunus

A Nobel peace prize winner and an incredible humanitarian, Yunus can make the most hardened right wing capitalist think that maybe there is a another way. “Building Social Business” will see you on a journey questioning traditional views such as bigger is better, it’s never enough or money can buy anything. Upon reflection, I prefer my friends Dave and Ina’s approach much better: “making a difference while making a dollar”.

And there you have it, Todd Millar’s much sough-after list of top ten list. With so many great resources out there, that was challenging! I hope one or two books from the list can resonate with you. Or quite possibly become a catalyst of inspiration on your own journey ofcontinuous improvement.

Is there a book you consider critical to your continuous improvement? Share it here in the comments!

“We shall have no better conditions in the future if we are satisfied with all those which we have at present.” — Thomas Edison

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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