When Joren van Schaik tagged me to challenge me to write about my top book recommendations, I was taken aback.
Most writers read a lot of books. I don’t. I wish I read more though.
But I don’t see myself as a writer, I’m a content producer. Writing is just a way to convey my message. I produce articles, stories, photos, videos, video games, music, and more.
So, instead of writing about books, I’ll write about writers/thinkers. Some have written notes or books, some have written content here on Medium.
It was very hard to come up with only one lesson for each of these very influential people for me.
*Warning: some of the people on this list could be considered controversial. While you (and I) may not agree with everything they did or said, I hope we can all recognize the valuable lessons they give/gave us.
1. Marcus Aurelius
“It is not death a man should fear, but he should fear never having beginning to live.”
Of all the lessons I learned from Marcus Aurelius, the most impactful came from that quote.
I learned from it to make the most of my time in this world. I see it as a deeper YOLO (you only live once). Through it, I learned to improve myself first so I can improve the lives of others.
2. Lao Tzu
“If you want to know me, look inside your heart.”
This was an amazingly deep lesson of acceptance and self-awareness for me.
When you start judging people because they are different, you close yourself to who the other person really is.
I believe in learning from each and everyone, no matter the race, religion, sexual orientation, background, looks, etc.
3. Napoleon Hill
“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
Once you realize that your limitations are nothing more than a projection of your limiting beliefs, you realize that you can indeed accomplish much more than you ever thought you could.
4. Sam Walton
“There is only one boss; the customer. […]”
Whatever we do, we are at the service of others. A lot of life loses its meaning without others to share it with.
Always do your best for others. Doing good, after all, is one of the most satisfying things you can do for your own happiness.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Never give up, especially when things are hard. The strength you get from going over hardships is what defines a good part of your success in life.
Arnold had many things going against him, but he went through most obstacles stronger.
6. Jim Rohn
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Most likely my favourite quote of all times. Always surround yourself with the right peoplebecause the people around you truly shape who you become.
Find like-minded positive people that elevate and push you to be the best you can be.
“[…]You have to do what you dream of doing even while you’re afraid.”
While in Greece, Arianna had the dream of going to Cambridge University. At the time, she didn’t speak English and didn’t yet have high enough grades to get in. She was afraid but persevere. She never gave up, learned English, improved her grades, and eventually became president of the Cambridge Union.
Never give up on your dreams. Persevere.
“Perhaps the world isn’t giving you what you want because based on all your distractions and lack of discipline it’s simply unclear what you are asking for.”
Live with intention. Have a greater purpose. I like to ask people this most difficult question: “why do you do what you do?”. Can you truly answer that question? Chances are if you’re not getting what you want in life, it’s because your actions and intentions don’t match. Either change your actions or your intentions. Or both.
“Every morning you wake up, you should focus on the day ahead of you, to take action towards your goal(s), and achieve incremental progress.”
It’s easy to think big. It’s hard to act big. Z suggests making the most out of the 24 hours each of us has. Following this simple advice, I started accomplishing so much more in my life. Break everything down. Baby steps. That’s how we learn anything.
Make the most of your time in this world. Be accepting and self-aware. Believe in yourself. Be the best you can be to others. Follow your dreams. Never give up. Surround yourself with the right people. Live with intention. Have a greater purpose. Focus on the 24 hours you have in one day.
While these lessons are not groundbreaking by themselves, I assure you most of us don’t follow half of this timeless advice even though we claim we know about them.
Don’t be like that. Reflect on each of these and realize what you do well and what you do wrong in each of them. I assure you no one is perfect at all of these. Not that perfection is the desired outcome but we can all be a little better, for ourselves and for others.
You can do this!