My Monthly Financial Book Review Email List

Photo by David Shankbone

Photo by David Shankbone

I’m in the midst of changing some things up here on my personal website. One of the biggest changes is creating a more useful email list to you, my readers!

Beginning today, I have created a new email list in which you will receive a monthly financial book review from me, Larry. You see, over the last several years, I have been in the process of literally devouring over one hundred personal finance books. I’ve taken copious notes. I’ve highlighted a lot of material. I’ve learned a lot. I’m in the processing of translating this goldmine of information into useful action steps for your personal finances.

Each month, I will email you exclusive book review material that I won’t publish anywhere else. It won’t be on the blog. If you want to glean some “nuggets” from all my personal finance reading, then sign-up in the contact form below. Happy Reading!

 






We respect your email privacy

Book Review: From Zero to Hero in Your Finances

From Zero to Hero In Your Finances BookBackground

As a stewardship pastor and blogger, I was recently encouraged to check out the book From Zero to Hero in Your Finances by Dr. Richard Knapp.

Christian stewardship isn’t always the easiest topic to tackle, especially in a book format. If approached in the wrong manner, the subject matter can come across as dry and boring, or even worse, as legalistic and condescending. Dr. Knapp did an excellent job with his approach on the topic of stewardship. I found his book to be entertaining, and at the same time quite convicting!

6 Key Aspects Of The Book That Make This Book Worth The Read

There were several aspects of this book that I really enjoyed. Due to these key parts of the book, I know I will find myself coming back to this book for future research and inspiration in the area of stewardship.

Here are the 6 key aspects of the book I enjoyed:

  1. A Quick and Easy Read. As I mentioned above, the topic of stewardship can be potentially stuffy and boring to many, but I enjoyed Dr. Knapp’s approach to this book. Each chapter was concise, had a good flow, and got straight to the point. Nicely done.
  2. The Concept of Well-Digging. The opening chapter talks about this interesting idea of digging wells. I had never consider this approach in this way before, but it does make complete sense to me. I had one of those “I could have had a V8” experience when I read through this particular chapter. Dr. Knapp explains that “ … wells symbolize God’s provision and blessing. Abraham dug many wells, which were later filled with dirt by the Philistines, a type of the enemy.” You can read Genesis 26:18-19, 22 as well as Isaiah 12:2-3 for the Old Testament inspiration for the overall concept. Here’s a very brief synopsis of what Dr. Knapp writes about “well digging”: “When a well has been properly dug, the water flows freely into it. The water from a functional well will always be available, not only to us, but to others around us. The devil, however, will constantly try to throw unbelief into our wells to dry up our faith in that area … Digging a well is an active spiritual process, not a passive mental one.”
  3. Personal Stories from the Author’s Life. Stories are always excellent ways for an author to connect with his audience. Dr. Knapp shared several of his own personal stewardship stories that were interesting and convicting. His stories were a great reminder that I still have much to learn in the area of stewardship.
  4. Stewardship Testimonies from the Lives of Others. Not only did Dr. Knapp share his own stewardship stories, but he also included several stories and testimonies from others. These were very inspiring as well. I’ll probably be “stealing” some of these stories for a few Giving Talks at my church in the near future.
  5. Tons of Scripture to Support Each Chapter. At the end of every chapter, Dr. Knapp listed a lot of Scripture to support the particular concept he was teaching for that chapter. I will definitely be using this part of the book as a resource as I teach on key areas of stewardship.
  6. Written-Out Stewardship Prayers. Most chapters of the book have a written-out stewardship prayer of confession. I’m definitely coming back to these for inspiration for public prayers with our congregation.

If you have a passionate desire to grow deeper in this area of Christian stewardship, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.

Book Review: Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, And Playing Field Of Personal Finance

Financial-fitness-bookForced To Ponder

I wasn’t sure how to respond.

I recently made a new acquaintance at my church who studies and understands financial matters. We were discussing my stewardship pastor role at the church and my use of Dave Ramsey materials for financial instruction.

He told me that he believes Dave spends too much time on the defensive side of money. All he talks about is budgeting, getting out of debt, and emergency funds.

I really couldn’t argue too much with my new friend. He was making a solid point.

My friend then recommended that I look into the Financial Fitness materials by LIFE Leadership. So, I bought the Kindle version of their book and did a quick read on it in a few days.

In this post, I’ll share a few of the highlights of what I learned.

3 Key Elements I Learned From Reading This Book

Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, and Playing Field of Personal Finance by LIFE Leadership Written by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward

1. I have perhaps spent too much time on the financial defense side of money then the offensive side. Here’s an excellent quote from the book that makes this exact point:

“Most books on personal finance start (and, all too often, end) with a focus on financial defense (how to get out of debt, protect your money, and prepare for contingencies). But defense is the wrong place to start because it creates the wrong mindset. Defense of money is vitally important, but making it the first priority often puts people in an attitude of scarcity rather than abundance. We will cover financial offense (making more money) first and then defense (protecting one’s resources) later because the values and attitudes of financial offense are naturally abundant, aggressive, and bold. Successful financial offense requires initiative, innovation, ingenuity, and tenacity—the entrepreneurial values” (Kindle location 1212).

2. I need to excel in my current job role, and then figure out a side income to throw off passive cash flow. While this wasn’t necessarily a big news flash for me, it was a good reminder for me on how to stay on financial offense. Here are three excellent quotes from this book regarding this point:

“As you truly excel in your current role, you will naturally be given more responsibility, and as you do the same with the new duties, you will build yourself into a better and better leader. This is why the offense side of finances is so important in achieving financial fitness. Whatever you are working on right now in your life, truly excel at it in order to fully invest in yourself. The natural result will be progress and increasing prosperity and opportunities” (Kindle location 1432).

“If you have a job, it means doing the same thing as an intrapreneur—thinking like an entrepreneur, a leader, and an innovator at your work, rather than just fitting in to your job description. It means adopting an ownership mentality, thinking and acting like an owner rather than just settling for an employee mentality. Focus on the owner mentality in your choices, work, interaction with others, and in all tasks, character opportunities, and relationships whether or not you are actually the owner—as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, or both” (Kindle location 1420).

“One of the key principles of financial fitness is to increase your passive income, even if you continue to work at a primary active income source. Of course, if you are currently employed, don’t quit your job until your passive income has surpassed your active income (and you have sought professional advice, gotten out of debt, done the proper planning, and so forth). As we said earlier, you can keep carrying buckets for your employer, but it is also helpful to begin building your own pipeline of passive income” (Kindle location 1753 ).

3. I need to give more consideration to Emergency Preparation: food, water, power, guns, cash, and precious metals. In my mind, I would think that emergency preparation would fall under the area of financial defense. Brady and Woodard categorize this interestingly enough under financial offense. Here is a lengthy but excellent quote on this topic:

“Saving for a worst case includes the opposite of compounding money, which we will call “impounding.” This means putting away various forms of money just in case catastrophic things happen. Stash some cash in a safe, secure, secret place. And in case inflation ruins the value of the currency, put away some silver coins as well. Silver is better than gold for this purpose because in a worst-case world, gold will be very valuable, so a gold coin will be worth a lot more than the food you will want to buy with it. Small silver coins will be easier to trade for small needs. Gold can be used to effectively protect larger amounts from loss of value due to government inflation (more on this later). Saving for a worst case includes the opposite of compounding money, which we will call “impounding.” By the way, don’t be too extreme about this. We are not doom and gloomers, and we’re not predicting a world with roving bandits and no electricity. It could happen, but so could a lot of things. We are simply suggesting that part of sound money planning is to realize that bank holidays and closed banks can happen. They occurred during the Great Depression, even though the world didn’t end. But people with some cash and silver were able to purchase food and fuel when others could not. And major storms, natural disasters, and other challenges can come also. So be prepared. Don’t be fanatical. Just take some wise precautions. Another valuable investment on this same level is food storage. Get the kind that lasts many years and keep it in a cool, dry place. Many people store guns and bullets with their food and metal coins. Learning to hunt might be a very helpful preparation. Again, this is for last-ditch survival needs, but having it as part of your investment hierarchy can be very valuable” (Kindle location 2323).

My Recommendation

Okay, so here’s my recommendation: I highly recommend reading Financial Fitness, especially if you have been down in the trenches with the Dave Ramsey philosophy for a while. I’m not saying that the Dave philosophy is bad, but you can get too immersed in financial defense for too long. This has the potential for developing a financial scarcity mindset, which isn’t where you want to be, long-term.

This book can help you get turned back around to focusing on financial offense, which leads to abundance thinking. I wonder what this world would be like if people had thoughts of abundance rather than scarcity mindsets?

Questions: Have you read Financial Fitness? What were your takeaways from this book? Would you recommend this book to others?

Book Review | The Art of Possibility by Ben and Rosamund Zander

The Art of Possibility BookDiscovering A Book Through A TED Talk

The information within books has the potential power to completely and radically transform your life.

Over the last few years, I can count a handful of books that made a deep impression that has changed my thinking and ultimately my life in amazing, powerful ways.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (note: this is a husband and wife duo) is my latest addition to this list of life-changing books.

I actually discovered Benjamin Zander through his amazing TED video (you have to watch this), visited his personal website, and then ordered his book through the Kindle store on Amazon. Money wisely spent!

Benjamin Zander’s biography reads:

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a guest conductor around the world. With London’s famed Philharmonia Orchestra, he is recording the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies for Telarc, recordings which have been received with extraordinary critical acclaim and several awards. Their latest recording of Bruckner’s 5th Symphony was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, and has received critical acclaim both for the performance and Zander’s now famous full-length disc explaining the music for the lay listener. They recorded their next release, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, in January 2012 and it is scheduled for release later this year.

In 1967, Mr. Zander joined the faculty at New England Conservatory, where he taught an interpretation class, conducted the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted the conservatory orchestras. For the past 28 years, he was the Artistic Director of the joint program between New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.

Mr. Zander is one of the most sought after speakers in the world. He gave the opening Keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where on another occasion he was awarded the Crystal award for “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations. In 2002 he was awarded the “Caring Citizen of the Humanities” Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations. In honor of his 70th birthday, and 44 years of teaching, he was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the New England Conservatory.

His partner Rosamund Zander and he have collaborated on a best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility” which has been translated into fifteen languages.

Yes, this book has a lot to do with music, orchestras, and conducting.

But, it goes way beyond that. I view this book more as a roadmap to be a successful leader and to live out a life of transformation. Whether you’re a musician or not, you need to read this book. It will turn your life upside down, inside out. The ideas that Ben and Rosamund present here will cause you to rethink your approach to life and relationships.

[PLEASE NOTE: this is not a “Christian,” sanitized book. There is some adult language and themes here and there (especially under Chapter 6: Rule Number 6 and Chapter 7: The Way Things Are). I don’t support or condone the language or subject matter, but I do agree with the primary principles presented here. If you choose to read this book, you will need to keep this mind. You have been warned.]

My 6 Takeaways From The Book The Art Of Possibility

After reading The Art of Possibility, I came away with six actionable concepts that I have already started applying to my life. I’m seeing amazing things happen in my life as a result.

  1. It’s all invented (p. 12). The interpretations of the world vary from person to person, depending on our culture, environment, and upbringing. We all tend to become rigidly attached to certain ways of thinking and specific ways of viewing the world. The Zanders have concluded that “It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”
  2. Orient your life toward abundance (p. 21). It is very easy for any of us to slip into a poverty or scarcity mindset, thinking that we don’t have enough money or resources to accomplish what we would like. The Zanders encourage us with these words, “you are more likely to extend your business and have a fulfilled life if you have the attitude that there are always new customers out there waiting to be enrolled rather than that money, customers, and ideas are in short supply … resources are more likely to come to you in greater abundance when you are generous and inclusive and engage people in your passion for life. There aren’t any guarantees, of course. When you are oriented to abundance, you care less about being in control, and take more risks.”
  3. Radiate possibility to everyone around you (p. 65). When the people you lead are not everything you envision them to be, who do you blame? Do you blame them, or do you blame yourself? Ben Zander puts forth the question for all of us who are leading others, “Who am I being that they are not shining?” (p. 74). The only person we can truly blame is ourself. We are the leader who is radiating possibility to others. So how do we effectively radiate this universe of possibility? The Zanders believe that “Purpose, commitment, and vision are distinctions that radiate possibility” (p. 179).
  4. Give people an “A” (p. 26, 39). Too many times, we judge people with very little information. If we feel like they have done us wrong one too many times, we put these people on our “naughty” list. The Zanders challenge us to give the grade of an “A” to “anyone in any walk of life – to a waitress, to your employer, to your mother-in-law, to the members of the opposite team … When you give an A, you find yourself speaking to people not from a place of measuring how they stack up against your standards, but from a place of respect that gives them room to realize themselves … This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”
  5. Lead from the second chair (p. 41). There is a disease that infects many music ensembles. This problem is sometimes called “second fiddle-itis.” The problem occurs when people perceive their role in a group to be of little significance (second violins for example), mostly due to the fact that many people are duplicating the same part. This is not true of other key positions within an orchestra, such as the primary brass and woodwind roles. They act more as soloists. But, this in no way diminishes the role and importance of the “second part.” Ben Zander tells us the story of Robert Koff, the founding second violinst of the Julliard String Quartet: “I came away convinced that the real leader of the string quartet is the second violin. Not because Koff dominated the rest of us, but because in his part he had all the inner rhythms and harmonies, and he gave them such clarity and authority that we were all tremendously influenced by his playing. He was leading us from the ‘seconds.’”
  6. Rule Number 6: don’t take yourself so seriously! (p. 79-80). The practice of Rule Number 6 is to lighten up, which may lighten up those around us. We can utilize the power of humor to defuse tense and awkward situations. All of us take ourselves way too seriously at certain times and under specific circumstances. When you find yourself getting way too serious and stressed out, just remember Rule Number 6 and observe what happens!

Questions: Have you ever read The Art of Possibility? If so, what were your own takeaways from this amazing book?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Stop Blaming Others And Take Ownership Of Every Aspect Of Your Life

Photo by Pushkar V

Photo by Pushkar V

Book Review

Have you ever read a book that was so good that you needed to share it with others? Well, last weekend, I happened to download a really good book on my Kindle app, and I blasted through it within a couple of days. It’s a really easy read with very short chapters. Each chapter gets straight to the point, which I really like! Anyway, the book is called QBQ! The Question Behind The Question.

The Question Behind the Question has to do with practicing personal accountability at work and in life. It’s so easy to blame others for when something goes wrong at work or within the family. Amazing, extraordinary people, though, are able to stop blaming others and simply embrace personal responsibility. Sure, all of our jobs “out in the real world” would be a lot easier if every employee within our companies shouldered their own personal responsibility in their positions. But, the unfortunate reality is that people don’t always approach their work in this way. Many of us end up picking up the slack of others.

According to the book, this is simply a great opportunity for you to be an exceptional employee, husband, father, team member, and so on.

Take Ownership

One of the primary keys to personal responsibility is taking ownership within the organization. According to QBQ!, “Ownership does not require having an equity stake in the organization or holding an official position of leadership. It simply means facing problems head-on instead of blaming, complaining, procrastinating, or making excuses. Ownership is personal accountability in its purest form.”

At work and at home, stuff will happen. Our fellow employees will drop the ball on a critical work project. Our spouse will forget to take care of an important family financial detail. Our kids will fail to do their chores around the house. As a result, we can blame everyone else around us, or we can assume the responsibility and attempt to correct the problem.

Does this mean that we chase everyone around at work and home with a giant “pooper scooper” and clean up everybody else’s messes? No, not necessarily. What it may mean for us, though, that we strive to set the bar a little higher at home and on the job.

We model personal responsibility to our co-workers and family, first. Then, we turn around and encourage a spirit of personal ownership to those around us.

The Foundation of QBQ: Ask Better Questions

The key concept behind QBQ! is asking ourselves questions.

But, instead of asking questions like:

“Why don’t others work harder?”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Why do they make it so difficult for me to do my job?”
“Why don’t I ever get a break?”
“Why don’t people care as much as I do?”

We need to ask ourselves better, more empowering questions. The formula for creating a quality QBQ is the following:

  1. Begin with “What” or “How” (not “Why,” “When,” or “Who”).
  2. Contain an “I” (not “they,” “we,” or “you”).
  3. Focus on action.

The question “What can I do?” follows this 3-step formula, perfectly.

Instead of focusing your time and energy on a bunch of ineffective questions that lead to stress and disappointment, decide today that you will pursue creating better questions that lead to way better results at work and in your life.

Questions: Do have a tendency to ask too many “Why me?” questions? What do you need to do to start asking yourself better quality questions? Have you ordered your copy of QBQ! yet?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Book Review | Let Go by Pat Flynn

Let Go book by Pat FlynnLet Go Day

Today is Let Go Day. Here’s the info on this special day that Pat Flynn personally sent to me just a few days ago:

The event is going to be a blast. Let Go Day is a celebration of everyone who has ever Let Go, bet on themselves and pursued their own path. Here are all the exciting details.

What: Two-hour LIVE UStream Broadcast with me and special guests
When: Monday, June 17th (TODAY!) beginning 12:00 P.M. Pacific / 3:00 P.M. Eastern
Where: letgoday.com
Why: Because who doesn’t like a party?! 🙂
Who: You, your friends, and your future friends

I’ll be hosting the LIVE broadcast for two hours! My family may make an appearance. My Let Go team may make an appearance. And some special guests may make an appearance. We’ll talk about our Let Go stories as well as yours, if you share them with us. There will be a few ways to share your stories:

  • Via #LetGoDay Twitter hashtag
  • In the Ustream chat during the webinar
  • In the comments of the Let Go Day blog post on Smart Passive Income (coming soon!)

We’ll also be holding a giveaway every 15-20 minutes on the broadcast. We’re still finalizing the giveaways, but you can be assured that awesome books and gift cards will be included.

Let Go | The Book

This day is also a celebration of blogger/podcaster Pat Flynn’s first published book, Let Go. I had the opportunity to read Pat’s book over the weekend, and I wanted to share my insights to my readers on Pat’s special day:

  • The book is a super quick read! It only took my about 45 minutes to go from beginning to end.
  • The price point is excellent for a short book. $2.99 over at Amazon.com.
  • Inspirational is the best word to describe Pat’s first book. I came away stoked and inspired to keep working on my own blog and various side projects I have going right now.
  • This book resonates with my message here on my blog: “moving from ordinary to extraordinary.” Pat has certainly done that in his life through building an awesome online empire!
  • I loved all the quotes Pat used for each chapter heading. Great quotes, Pat!

Here are some great life lessons I came away with from Let Go:

  1. Lesson 1: Things work out when you least expect them.
  2. Lesson 2: Great decisions can put you in front of great opportunities.
  3. Lesson 3: Hard work and dedication do pay off, over time.
  4. Lesson 4: Creating a blog is a great tool for the blogger himself to learn and grow.
  5. Lesson 5: Negative events (such as being “let go” from a job) can lead to amazing things. I’ve shared this same principle in my recent FREE eBook Moving From Broken To Superhuman.
  6. Lesson 6: Use times of life transition to learn and grow.
  7. Lesson 7: “This isn’t your fault. We’re going to be okay.” Life stuff happens, but things end up working out in the end. Keep the faith. Play the cards dealt to you.
  8. Lesson 8: Make smart financial decisions during a life crisis. I don’t know if Pat and his wife are Dave Ramsey followers, but they seem to know how to handle their finances, wisely. Love it!
  9. Lesson 9: Podcasts are great tools for personal growth.
  10. Lesson 10: Create mastermind groups of like-minded individuals.
  11. Lesson 11: Hustle, hustle, hustle.
  12. Lesson 12: Going back to school to get another degree isn’t always the best solution.
  13. Lesson 13: Family is the most important thing. Cherish your moments together.

Click on my affiliate link below to get this amazing, inexpensive, inspirational book on Pat’s life story. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Let Go by Pat Flynn


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan

Photo by Bindaas Madhavi

Photo by Bindaas Madhavi

My Life Fell Apart

In April of 2009, my life was blasted into a million pieces. I lost my identity as a husband, family man, Christian, and even as an ordained pastor.

I was handed a separation and divorce I simply did not want. I spent hours in prayer. People in my church prayed over me. I tried everything in my power over an 18-month time period to repair a marriage that was hopelessly over. No dice. I lost.

But, out of the ashes of destruction came a new work. New life was reborn out of the rubble of the past. Over time and with God’s help, I began Moving from Broken to Superhuman.

A 5-Step Action Plan

As a result of these incredible life challenges, I stumbled into a 5-Step Action Plan as I worked my way through my brokeness in search of healing. These five steps helped me regain my life perspective. They renewed my faith of what could be possible with God’s help and a lot of hard work.

Over the last several years, I’ve seen many people go through some major life challenges. Some are able to “walk through the fire” and not be consumed. They come out okay, maybe even better on the other side.

Others, though, seem to struggle through their difficulties. They can’t get any traction in their lives. They’re treading water and seem hopelessly stuck.

The great news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, how can one person emerge victorious from their problems, and another be stuck with little hope of moving forward? I believe my 5-Step Action Plan can give you the tools to move from defeat to victory.

This little ebook addresses the problems and the accompanying solutions. So, do you want to stay stuck where you are right now, or are you ready to move forward?

3D Book Cover

You can’t buy Moving From Broken To Superhuman in bookstores. In fact, you can’t buy it anywhere on the Internet. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter.

GET YOUR FREE E-BOOK NOW






We respect your email privacy

Email Marketing by AWeber


All you need to do is fill in the form above or the one on the top right-side of this page. Once you do that and confirm your subscription, I will email you the download link to this amazing, FREE resource.

If you’re really struggling with difficulties in your life right now, here’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow from my tragic experience. What do you have to lose? A better question: what are you losing out on if you don’t get my FREE ebook?

Question: If you have read my e-book, what did you think? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Thanks!

5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive

Photo by Sam Fam

Photo by Sam Fam

A Great Book Can Change Your Life

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been inspired by numerous authors, books, and the entire writing process. Guess that’s one of the reasons I became a blogger. I like analyzing stuff and then getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the computer screen.

The best books by the best authors are able to inspire a different level of thinking and living. They are able to get you to re-examine previously held beliefs and then take massive change in a new direction.

The following list of five books are ones that contain five big concepts that I think about on a daily basis. They have re-shaped my life and literally molded me into a better person (in my opinion). If you’ve never read these books, then I would highly encourage you to check them out!

5 Books That Have Impacted Me

1. Financial Peace [affiliate link] by Dave Ramsey. This is one of the first books that really altered my life in a number of ways. I remember walking into a bookstore around 2004-2005 and running across this bluish-green book by some guy named Dave Ramsey. He completely changed my views on money and the manner in which it should be wisely handled. As a result of reading Financial Peace, I will never again view debt the same way as I did in the past. I will never again be able to return to the old patterns of mismanaged personal finances. Thanks, Dave, for your wisdom and experience in this vitally important area of our lives. My life will never be the same as a result.

2.The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [affiliate link] by Stephen Covey. The big takeaway from this book that has stuck with me over the years is the concept of 4-quadrant living. The four quadrants include:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important Activities. These could include emergencies, putting out fires, and tight work deadlines.
  • Quadrant 2: Not Urgent but Important Activities. These could include exercise, planning, writing, meditation, recreation, and relationship building.
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent But Not Important Activities. These could include some calls, some emails, some meetings, and popular activities.
  • Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important Activities. These could include trivia, busy work, some calls, and some email.

So, the takeaway from Covey and 4-quadrant living that I contemplate on a daily basis is this: hang out in Quadrant 2 as much as you possibly can, especially during the peak performance hours of your day. I attempt to structure my day around these quadrants in order to maximize my overall performance.

3. The 80/20 Principle [affiliate link] by Richard Koch. The book was a reinterpretation of the Pareto principle, extending its use beyond economics and business, to cover issues such as “time revolution” and personal happiness (source: Wikipedia). The world is ruled by Pareto’s Law which states 80% of results are the result of 20% of inputs. Stated another way, 20% of my specific work activities have the capacity of producing 80% of my best work results. The key is knowing which 20% activities produce your best 80%! As a result of reading this book, I ponder every day whether or not I’m engaged in my top 20% activities. As a side note, this also corresponds to Quadrant 2 living in Covey’s book.

4. Good To Great [affiliate link] by Jim Collins – The key idea that I got from this must-read business book is “get the right people in the right seats on the right bus!” Now, with every group that I organize and lead, I attempt to get the right people in the right positions for the right task. If you want to take any organization from okay to awesome, then you must follow this principle.

5. The 4-Hour Body [affiliate link] by Tim Ferriss. I’m a big Tim Ferriss fan. I read his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek in 2007 (I debated whether or not to add this book to this list) and then I started following his blog. I purchased his next book, The 4-Hour Body, right around its release date, and found many of his experiments and teachings to be highly actionable. As a result of following a (mostly) slow carb-ish diet and exercise regimen, I was able to go from 170 lbs to 158 lbs. This took me down two pant sizes (from a 34 down to a 32). My belly flattened out and I have more lean muscle mass and less body fat. I added this book to the list because at age 42, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life as a result of reading it. Plus, there’s a lot of other incredibly awesome experiments and actionable ideas that you should check out as well.

Questions: So, have you read any of these books? Did you glean the same key concepts that I did or something entirely different? Do you a list of books that have impacted your life in amazing ways? If so, feel free to leave your list in a comment below. I’d love to see what books have changed your life!

How To Live With Excellence In A “Good Enough” World

Photo by PraveenbenK

Good Enough

Are you familiar with the phrase “that’s good enough for government work?” Everywhere we turn, it would seem that many people settle with just “good enough” in the majority of areas in their lives. They settle for good enough in their work. They settle for good enough in their personal lives. And, they settle with good enough in their relationships. Welcome to the world of mediocrity.

Those of us in a passionate pursuit of renaissance living, though, know that this is not the best attitude. Sure, there will be times and occasions where we will be in a hurry and can only do what we can do in that moment. What I’m talking about here in this post is a general, overall attitude. People who never push themselves to go to the next level in their lives and their work. If you were to boil it down to its simplest level, we’re talking a general attitude of laziness.

Going To The Next Level

So, if you’ve just been living a life that’s just been good enough to get by, what are the steps to break out of this attitude and mindset and get to the next level of excellent living?

Here are a few steps I’ve found helpful in getting to a higher level in my own life:

  • Change your attitude. Don’t accept an attitude of “good enough” any longer in your life. The people who are living incredible lives in today’s world do not live by the motto of “good enough.”
  • Demand the best you can get. Related to the first step, the next step in a change of attitude is demanding and expecting the very best in all areas of your life. Don’t settle! Also, don’t allow those around you to manipulate you into settling. If this is happening with your family and friends, then make it very clear that you can’t settle for less than the best in your life.
  • Rinse your cottage cheese. In the book Good to Great, author Jim Collins lists the characteristic of “rinsing your cottage cheese” as a factor in taking companies from good to great. The “rinsing your cottage cheese” factor refers to an extremely disciplined world-class athlete named Dave Scott who would literally rinse his cottage cheese to get any extra fat off. He believed that being disciplined in this one, additional, small step would give him that extra edge in competition with others. So, what does Dave Scott’s example mean to you? Dave was a world-class athlete because he lived he an extraordinary, disciplined life. If you want to live a life of excellence, then you need to be ultra-disciplined in all areas of your life as well.

How’s Your Attitude?

Where do you find yourself, today? Has your attitude been one of just “good enough?” Or, are you trying to break free of that mindset and go to the next level in every aspect of your life?

I would encourage you, today, to embrace renaissance living. Experience the renewal process in your life. Change your attitude, demand the best, and be ultra-disciplined in order to get extraordinary results!

Resources: