I am an avid reader and wholeheartedly believe it’s one of the best ways to achieve personal growth. Well, that is if you are reading the right books and putting what you learn into action.
Growing up, my parents couldn’t get me to read anything. I would read whatever the teacher assigned (maybe) and that’s it. During my college years, I did a little extra reading on the side, but I was definitely not all in.
About 5 or 6 years ago I decided that in order to grow as a leader and into the person God was calling me to become I’d have to start reading. If you are going to grow then you must sow. Sowing the seeds of knowledge and wisdom found in books written by people that are successful (especially in the areas you want to succeed) is a great way to compress time and learn more than you have time to experience on your own.
If you are a reader, awesome. If you are not a reader, then don’t lose hope just yet. You can download books via Audible and listen to them in the car or around the house. I love to do this as I drive to and from work or on long road trips. Another option is to start reading and take it slow. Dedicate 15 minutes per day to reading a book and then increase as your reading muscles begin to grow.
Below is a list of the best books I read in 2016 and a brief description of each book. I encourage you to pick a couple of them and then get your read on in 2017! These are not in a particular order as they are all good in their own way.
- The Carpenter– This is possibly my favorite book by Jon Gordon, which is a strong statement as his books are all on point. In The Carpenter, we meet a master builder who helps people reach their fullest potential. As is the case with all Jon Gordon books, there are multiple life lessons and success strategies built into a story that will capture both your mind and heart. I plan to read this book again soon.
- Bridge to Haven– I don’t read much fiction(although I should read more for my imagination,) but I’m glad I decided to read this selection after seeing a trusted friend post about it on social media. Bridge to Haven is one of those books that plays like a movie in your mind. I found myself reading it over my lunch break, before bed, and about anytime I could sneak a few minutes to read. As you read this book you’ll laugh, cry, get angry, and be filled with inspiration. Yep, Bridge to Haven has it all.
- Chop Wood Carry Water– The author, Joshua Medcalf, is one of my favorites as his books always rock. Joshua self-published this book and it has sold over 25,000 copies to date. Chop Wood Carry Water takes many of the lessons from Medcalf’s company Train to Be Clutch and embeds them into this short but powerful narrative. Here’s what I love about this book the most… My 10 year old daughter read it and loved it. I read it and loved it. The leader of a multi-billion dollar company read it and loved it. Teaching complex lessons in a simplified manner is a great gift and Joshua Medcalf does just that in Chop Wood Carry Water.
- 2 Chairs– This book might have made a greater positive impact on my life this year than any other book. 2 Chairs shares powerful stories in a way that only Bob Beaudine can tell them. But more important is that this book provides a tried and true strategy of building a relationship with God and finding out what He wants to do in your life each and every day. Beaudine knocks it out of the park with 2 Chairs. This is a book you buy for yourself and for your friends.
- In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day– In this book, along with the next book on my list, you will learn great lessons about pursuing your dreams from an Old Testament scripture that you’ve likely never heard or skipped right over. Author and Pastor Mark Batterson is a master storyteller and inspirational genius.
- Chase the Lion– Wow, wow, and wow. If you’ve ever read a book or heard a speech that made you want to conquer the world, then multiply that x 10 and you have Chase the Lion. This book immediately goes on my re-read list and will most likely be a once per year feast of dreaming BIG! Like it’s predecessor, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Chase the Lion takes a seemingly obscure Old Testament story and shows you how awesome God is and what he can do in the life of a person willing to chase their dreams and honor Him.
- The Compound Effect– Business mogul Darren Hardy has written a principle based guide to reaching your fullest potential in business and life. As you read through this book, you’ll be amazed at how small everyday decisions can turn into big game changing moves for your life. If you want to be successful, then do what successful people do.
- Mind of the Athlete– My #1 sports psychology book of all time. Mind of the Athlete is a short and easy read with real life actions steps included. All throughout the book I was thinking, “I wish I would have known this information while I was competing and all of my athletes need to hear it.” I love this book so much that I’ve lent it out to several people and suggested to my wrestling team that they all buy it. Our team is also utilizing the Mind of the Athlete Program.
- You Win in the Locker Room First– If you serve in any leadership role (we all lead someone), then this is a must read. Author Jon Gordon and NFL Coach Mike Smith teach a step by step strategy to build a great culture and help others be their absolute best. Coaches, this is one you need in your mental and physical library.
- Extreme Ownership– Leadership and Discipline. Two real life heroes (aka Navy Seals) take you on a journey through the combat training and battles they endured along with the leadership lessons they learned along the way. Practical, real, and will make you want to get up at 4:30 am to take on the day! Seriously. Sidenote: Authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are two honorable men and the definition of tough.
- Unashamed– This book is written by my favorite hip-hop artist, Lecrae Moore (aka Lecrae). Lecrae takes you through his life as a child, the struggles he endured and what it means to be a Christian in a secular world. It’s amazing how much I connected with this book personally and how my Faith was increased by books end. #116
- Same Kind of Different as Me– Seriously, why hadn’t I heard of this book until now? I stayed up until almost 1 am reading this book because I couldn’t put it down. Based on a true story and soon to be a motion picture, Same Kind of Different as Me is a story for the ages. American history, humanity, and the Love that only God can provide are all wrapped into this wonderful story. Upon finishing the last page, I was sad that the book was over. Don’t read this book unless you are ready to be moved emotionally and spiritually.
- The Wrestler– This book is not last on my list, it’s just one of the last books I read in 2016 and it sent me out with a bang! If you are a wrestler, wrestling coach, parent of a wrestler, or know wrestlers…then get this book. Author Michael Fessler was an excellent wrestler and takes you inside the mind of these gladiators as well as anyone has ever done it. Through his true stories, Fessler provides principles of success that can be applied on the mats right now. These principles can also be used off the mat to help with the match that really matters, the match of life. By the way, I have a few words in print in The Wrestler!
There you have it friends, my top books of 2016. Now pick some of them up and dig in to help create a better you in 2017!