If One Book “Changed Your Life,” You’re Doing it Wrong

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Photo by Darwin Vegher on Unsplash

Ever heard this line before:

“This one book changed my life!”

Okay, hold your horses. Though you may have heard someone make that claim, it’s quite the statement to make. Did one single book change the whole trajectory of your entire life?

I tend to think not, and here’s my controversially bold statement:

The person that claims one single book changed their life is the same person that doesn’t read enough books.

Those that commit to reading will likely tell you different books have impacted their lives in different ways. There isn’t one single book to get hung up on when there are countless lessons to be learned.

One Book — One Lesson

A few years ago, I read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. As the title indicates, there are seven lessons (habits) introduced in the book. They are displayed below:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

Of the seven lessons, lesson #2 resonated the most with me (Begin with the end in mind). I distinctly remember Covey describing the scenario of witnessing your own funeral (morbid, I know.)

What would people say at your funeral? Who would show up? What would close friends and family remember you for?

How you answer these questions should dictate the choices you make in life. By beginning with the end in mind, you’re able to assess the actions you take today.

Starting with the end in mind was my top personal takeaway from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Did I find the other lessons useful? Absolutely. But from my own experience, there is a defining takeaway from each book I read.

Bread Crumb Lessons

Imagine the best lesson from every book as a bread crumb. As I go through life reading books, I take a bread crumb from each book. That way, I can take the best lesson from each book and implement each in my life.

Below I’ve provided an example. I’ve provided my top takeaway for the following three books:

How to Win Friends & Influence People —Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.

The 48 Laws of Power —Control the options you present to others.

The Champion’s Mind — By noticing a trait in somebody else, you yourself have the potential for the same trait.

Instead of basing my life entirely on one of these three books, I take the best lesson from each book and fuse them into my life.

Taking lessons from books is similar to taking lessons from those you interact with. Just like you shouldn’t emulate your life entirely around one person, the same rule applies that you shouldn’t emulate your life entirely around one book.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him”

This expression can be slightly altered when it comes to books. It could go like this:

In my readings, every book I read contains a lesson to be learned, and in that I learn from it.

The more you read, the more bread crumbs you pick up. Read enough, and you’ll have a sack of bread crumbs to guide you through life.

Read enough to take the quality from within the quantity. Immerse yourself into many books and walk away armed with the tools, skills, perspectives, and habits to enhance your life.


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