What is one book that changed your life?
A book is a collection of lifetimes of experience and knowledge from those who have come before us. For a few dollars and a couple of hours, we’re able to capture all the best parts of their story.
Equally fascinating, everyone reacts differently to a book depending on timing and life experience. Writer and entrepreneur Derek Sivers discussed how he and Tim Ferris exchanged their most influential books, yet when they read each other’s recommendation, neither captured the same world-altering insights.
And then, each reading brings a different perspective based upon our life experiences creating different insights; some which may have been entirely hidden during the first, second, or even third reading.
Personally, there are several books that have altered the course of my life. Here are three:
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
I read this classic during my junior year of college. I live by the first habit, “Be Proactive,” and take full responsibility for my life. Our lives are a series of choices, even decisions as simple as whether we get out of bed or not. Recognizing that life is a direct result of our actions was one of the most empowering things I ever learned. That recognition also means the greatest limiting force in my life is myself.
Mindset by Carol Dweck
I stumbled across this book during my third year of teaching while attending a conference intended to motivate and re-energize teachers. There was a workshop introducing Dweck’s research on fixed and growth mindsets. I was unaware that I often approached things with a fixed mindset, a belief our abilities have fixed natural limits that determine whether we’re good at something and how much we’re able to improve.
A fixed mindset is a limiting life belief. For example, people who believe they are and always will be unable to do math. That expectation shapes reality. There’s an abundance of exemplary people who excelled because of their disadvantages and a willingness to outwork their peers. ANYTHING can be improved through effort. Even more worrying, when we praise children for their abilities rather than efforts, we develop children that would rather limit their growth opportunities than risk failure and the fixed images of themselves.
Drive by Daniel Pink
I had this book for a few years, but it was a cross-country flight following my fifth year in public education that provided the spark to get me going. Burned out, I actually started the previous year late because I was searching for meaning on the Appalachian Trail. This book spoke to me as it described the connection between competence, autonomy, and purpose. I felt stagnant, had little control over my destiny, and struggled to see us driving to a greater purpose. When the plane landed and my phone signal returned, my resignation email was delivered.