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First things first. You guys haven’t heard from me in ten days. No excuses from me, I’m sorry. We’ve been in Colorado the past week and I just let things pile up a little bit. I’m working to not let that happen again.
On today’s Test Drive I wanted to do something I haven’t done before and share the top three books that have been the most impactful in my life (specifically that I’ve read since we’ve been traveling in an RV).
1. Slowing Down to the Speed of Life
by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey
The first one is a book I’m reading right now, well re-reading. What I like about this book is that it challenges me to be present and appreciate the moment.
My whole life I’ve really struggled with being present. I remember one time in high school our basketball coach was going over a play and he recognized I was in la la land. He then proceeded to chew me out in front of the whole team and tell me that I had talent, but the reason I wouldn’t be successful was that I couldn’t keep my head out of the clouds.
I didn’t realize in the moment just how right he was. Over the years I’ve noticed how I have a tendency to live inside my head. I get caught up in my own thinking and as a result, it speeds up my days and my life.
I’ll start thinking about how Campground Booking isn’t as far along as I want it to be or how we’ve brought on too much client work or I’m behind on last week’s podcast episode. Then, I start going down this rabbit hole of thoughts and wonder why I feel so stressed. When this happens, I can’t fully appreciate our travels.
Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (the book) has helped me learn how to calm these thoughts and recognize that my emotions are a direct result of my thoughts (and always have been). It is literally impossible to feel something without thinking it first.
2. Meditations: A Modern Translation
by Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius was a stoic philosopher and emperor of Rome who lived around 160 AD. I’d never heard of stoicism until shortly after we were on the road. I was working out at a planet fitness and listening to a podcast with Tim Ferris. He was interviewing a guy named Ryan Holliday and they recommended this book called Meditations.
I thought it sounded interesting so I picked up Meditations and started reading. I would compare much of what I read in Meditations to proverbs in the bible. It is short, insightful and includes tight jabs of wisdom that are bite sized. Reading this book will put you in the right mindset to conquer the day and gain perspective in life.
There are some practical practices and pieces of advice that I’ve taken from this book, such as:
- Negative visualization. This is going to sound a bit depressing (and it is), but it works. This is where you visualize yourself or someone around you dying or in old age. The idea is that it will allow you to quit taking your life and those lives around you for granted. For me, it also has a way of igniting a fire of urgency inside me. I think about being old and then open my eyes to realize I’m still 26 and have time — but I know that it will go fast.
- The shortness of life. Another book written by a stoic was called The Shortness of Life by Seneca. I’m lumping this under Meditations (even though it is an entirely separate book) because it falls under the stoicism category. In this book Seneca makes the case for just how short our time is here on Earth. He says that men are so stingy with their money, land and go to war over these things but they will happily give away their most precious resource — time. This book has helped me prioritize how much time I’m willing to give away to others, who I know don’t value this resource as much as I do (nor should they).
- Do less, but better. This is a constant mantra of mine and something I’m always striving to do (whether I fail or not is another story). “If you seek tranquility, do less. Or more accurately, do what’s essential. Which brings a double satisfaction, to do less, better.”
3. Ego is the Enemy
by Ryan Holliday
This is a book that challenges me and pushes me in the self-awareness category. Ryan has become one of my favorite authors through his books—Ego is the Enemy, Obstacle is the Way, and his newest—Perennial Seller.
Ego is the enemy is about being realistic about your own skills and motives while working towards any goal. Ryan talks about how easy it is for us to blindly pursue more and more, without acknowledging if it is what is in our best interest.
He talks about generals of our army who have turned down promotions because they were realistic about their own skill levels, instead of ambitiously pursuing a higher status. This book resonates with me because I tend to care a lot about what people say and think of me (too much and I’m working on it), so sometimes I get lost in the appearance of what I’m doing instead of the substance.
For instance, you guys haven’t heard me talk that much about CampgroundBooking lately because it hasn’t been at the forefront of projects I’m currently working on. I don’t want to be a guy who talks about all the things he’s doing — I just want to do them and share what I learn along the way (that can be helpful to others).
Ego is the Enemy is a great book to read if you value self-awareness. Ryan makes the case that ego is what ultimately holds us back from achieving our potential. Ego craves recognition for things we haven’t done yet, pushes us to pursue multiple things at once (even if those things don’t align with our goals), and clouds our judgment.
A couple honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the list:
- Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, a biography of the first part of Teddy Roosevelt’s life that is absolutely fascinating (leading up to his presidency). The guy lived a remarkable and adventurous life.
- The One Thing A book by real estate mogul Gary Keller, that talks about focusing on less.
- Choose Yourself by James Altucher. This is just a great book about why we’re living in a generation where you have the opportunity (now more than ever, to create your own career.
Thanks for Listening!
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Great mention of thinking about death/end of life. I do this often as well. My brother died when he was 25. I am 29. I think about that a lot. I already have 4 years on his life, and I probably will have many, many more. I think about when I’m old and look back on the blessing of all these years I got and someone I loved didn’t… I don’t want to regret them. I want to have treated them as the precious gift they were. I don’t want to have wasted a single day on something I didn’t fully believe in. And I’m not.
If you think about life that way, it’s so much easier to follow your values, enjoy the little things and yes, even live in the moment.
I think the best habit Heath has gotten from all of that is daily journaling. It’s a really easy way to look back at your life and see all the things you said you wanted to do and all the things that you actually did. And like you said, make sure you’re doing the things that you believe in! Will have to get back to you on if that is good for “living in the moment” for Heath. I think that’s still his biggest struggle!
Pleased that you found a book by “Richard Carlson”. If you enjoyed it, you can slip a few bucks my way.
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