In today’s episode, Anna shares the best self-help books on success and the 5 books that have changed her life!
When you’ve tentatively decided to make a big career or lifestyle change but you don’t feel ready to work with a coach or invest in a paid programme, a good place to start is to do some reading and reflecting on your own. With this in mind, I’m sharing my five favourite books, which inspired and guided me when I was decided to leave my corporate job and, ultimately, start my own business.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
The Art of Non-conformity by Chris Guillebeau
The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
The best self-help books on success
Okay, so you’ve decided you want to get out of your comfort zone. You want to mix things up a bit. You want to redefine what success looks like for you. Now what?
Now of course, as a coach, you might expect me to say, “Hey, work with a coach, pay lots of money, get them to guide you through the process,” and while that can be very powerful, it may be that you’re at the very early stage of redefining success. You haven’t really opened up your eyes yet or you’re just beginning to open your eyes to the possibility of doing something different, to living a different life, changing career direction, starting a business, evolving in an unexpected way, perhaps, and it can be quite scary. You’re probably not ready to throw yourself into the deep end. Now, by all means, if that’s what you want to do, if you want to take a big leap, if you have the money and if you want to really accelerate I guess this process, then of course you can work with someone and I’m here for you when you’re ready.
However, if you’re like me, perhaps let me say seven, eight years ago now back in 2013, were just beginning the journey, I want to give you some resources, specifically, some books that will help you begin to immerse yourself in this idea, get inspired and get the confidence to start moving forwards. Now, I always think back to this time and how I began my journey and I devoured books. I have lots of book recommendations, many more than these five I’m giving you today. But for me, I guess I had an academic approach to this and I loved being inspired. I loved getting those ideas and sort of thinking through logically, but also reading the stories and so on. So if that’s you, I’m here to help you. I want to give you these book recommendations. Now, you can read all five as I did, and then many more, or you can start with one that resonates most.
Again, it’s just a great way to begin to explore, begin to understand what other alternatives might be out there, how other people are thinking about these things, how they’ve gone about evolving and so on.
So we’re really talking big picture, how to question the norm, how to get off the conventional path, get on that typical sort of conveyor belt travel [inaudible 00:02:35], or whatever it’s called, that just goes straight ahead. Sort of head down, follow that good girl path that I talk about as well. We’re opening up our eyes. We’re getting off that conveyor belt and we’re saying, “Hey, hang on a second. There are other alternatives. What might that be?” Now we’re not yet doing anything. We don’t have to change things up too much just yet. We’re literally just getting these books and reading them, beginning to think. Now you can take notes. You can mind map. You can do a vision board, all these as you get ideas. Again, this is a really great, low risk, almost no risk step that you can take to start the journey towards redefining success.
So without further ado, I’m going to recommend a few books for you. Of course, I’ll be linking to these in the show notes, so do check that out. You can always go to reimaginingsuccesspodcast.com, where you should be able to scroll down on your favourite podcast app where you’re listening right now, and you’ll be able to find the details.
The first one, the first I think I read was the Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau.
Now I have no idea how I found Chris, but he was really one of those first role models, gurus, if you will, that I followed back in the day. While I was travelling, I went on a sabbatical across South America in 2013, and I discovered his blog. He organises it according to life and work and travel. His journey began by wanting to visit every single country in the world. I think there were 193 when he did it, and of course he shared that story. That was sort of how he began the blogging journey. Since then he’s written many more books, all of which I’ve read, and I recommend all of them to be honest. Lots of side hustle ideas. There’s The Happiness of Pursuit, I want to say. There’s all sorts of books that he’s written, so do check those out as well, Side Hustles and so on, as I said.
The Art of Non-Conformity really helped me to question the conventional sort of school, uni, good job path because he didn’t do that and he had a very different approach. For me, having been that kind of, I guess, good girl academic, that was really helpful to immerse myself in someone else’s perspective as to what was, and wasn’t necessary. Now, you don’t have to agree. And it doesn’t matter now anyway, because we’ve followed a certain path, but this idea of not having to have academic and formal qualifications and so on was quite interesting. And then the way he was exploring his life, I just really enjoyed the way he approached this.
Now interestingly, he ran this big world domination summit in America at the time. I couldn’t go to that, but I got in touch with him on Twitter, as you do, and asked him about bringing it to Europe. And he said, “Oh Hey, this girl, Yanna, in Germany is organising it.” In fact, he had spoken at the conference the year before in a live in Berlin conference the year before. I joined that conference. Yanna Schubert, call her out, shout out to her, she’s a fantastic executive coach now as well.
I came there and I met lots of people like Dave Cornthwaite and Emily and lots of people, who then led me to go on adventures. I went paddling down the Mississippi. Emily Penn; sorry, I didn’t say her last name a moment ago. She’s an ocean’s advocate. Dave’s an adventurer. They together organised this Mississippi trip. They’re fantastic speakers. They both led me to help me question as well the path I was on. So you can see how this one book then led to that tweet, which led to the conference, which led to by the way, me meeting lots of people, interviewing many of those for the book that I wrote on people who had left their jobs, et cetera. So I can’t even begin to describe, or I have begun to describe, but I can’t even really exaggerate, I guess, how much that book changed my life.
The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau; thank you, Chris, for the role you’ve played in my journey.
Now another one, which I won’t talk too much about, but it is a classic in the genre. Maybe even the one that set it all off. You may have heard of it is The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss.
Now I had mixed feelings about this one when I read it. Four hours doesn’t sound like a lot does it in the workweek? And the truth is Tim Ferriss works very, very hard, so there’s no way he only works four hours. The over-simplified version of what he writes about is that you find a business, you automate it as much as possible. It’s something like selling protein powder or coffee beans or whatever. You outsource, you automate so that you can then spend most of your time off on a beach, learning tango, travelling the world, whatever, which sounds very appealing. It certainly helps you, and this is why I’m recommending it to question that conventional role, even of working in your business, being paid by the hour and trading money for time essentially. Really useful book to question that.
Now I found it went into too much detail towards the middle, end. It got into too much practicalities of all that automation, which isn’t necessarily as powerful. But again, that nugget, that shift of the paradigm as to how you can live your life, the career set up as it were, really reading [inaudible 00:07:33]. Tim Ferriss is incredible, ambitious, driven person, who has all sorts of other resources on his websites. He’s done The 4-Hour Body as well. He’s very dedicated and an incredible inspiring person.
Again, this is an interesting one that questions, “Hey, hang on a second. Maybe I don’t have to work 40 hours a week or 60 hours a week,” or whatever it is you work.
The next one, I’ve got a few quotes that I pulled out of this because I wrote a blog post on this one many years ago. It’s The Icarus Deception, by Seth Godin.
Now you may have heard of Seth Godin as this marketing guru. He’s written so many incredible books. For example, the Purple Cow, I read back in my corporate marketing days. I’ve read his more recent books. Again, really recommend anything that he’s written; Seth Godin. He revolutionised the blogging, or at least he had a very unique approach to blogging with very short blog posts when everybody else was doing massive long ones. He really is, I guess, recognised as a guru in the industry.
This book, The Icarus Deception, is not in the marketing genre. It’s rather again, helping you question, what is you want from life? I loved it for many reasons. I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology and Icarus, if you don’t know the story, and I apologise if I’m bastardising this, but in a nutshell, you may have heard of Icarus and his father escaping, I think from some island in Greece, of course, back in the day. His father had made these wings with wax and he said, “Okay, don’t fly too close to the sun my dear Icarus, because the wax will melt from the sun, the heat, and you’ll fall to your death.” Of course, this is what happened tragically, and he fell into the sea. What we forget in that story is that Icarus’s dad also said, “Don’t fly too close to the water, to the sea, because the salt water will splash and also will melt the wax, and again, you’ll fall to your death.”
The really interesting metaphor there that Seth Godin is talking about is that, hey, we always, well most of us at least, hold ourselves back. We’ve learned, okay, we’re not supposed to be arrogant. We’ve got to be humble. We’re not supposed to get too big for our boots and the think that we can do all these amazing things, but then instead we limit ourselves. We think who do we think we are? We’re not good enough. We allow other people’s criticism or self-criticism to hold ourselves back.
As promised; a few quotes that I have. This is from Seth in the book. “We’ve been trained to prefer being right to learning something, to prefer passing the test to making a difference, and most of all, to prefer fitting in with the right people.”
That really resonates with me. This idea of being right is something that, again, my good girl syndrome from school, it was always embarrassing. You didn’t want to get it wrong. I would only raise my hand if I really knew the answer. I’d rather keep to myself and not make mistakes and look foolish. As my singing teacher used to say, “The fear of looking foolish, being made a fool of is one of our biggest fears, really as a human being.”
The next one isn’t from Seth Godin, but he quotes Marianne Williamson in his book. This is one of my favourites. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
That gives me goosebumps I have to say. In fact, as I’ve talked to [inaudible 00:10:55] many times, it’s not the fear of failure. Yes, that’s there for many of us, fear of mistakes, fear of looking foolish, but it’s the fear of success. We hold ourselves back. We forget. We don’t believe. We don’t allow ourselves. And we’re in fact afraid of living up to our full potential. That’s really powerful thoughts, and I hope that sort of shifts the way you’re thinking about things. “Hang on a second. Maybe it’s success that you’re afraid, rather than failure.”
Finally, a bit of a call to action for you, Seth Godin’s quote again from the book The Icarus Deception. “No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”
That one’s so important. When you are looking for your dream career and designing your dream lifestyle, ideal lifestyle, nobody, as I tell my clients, no body’s going to come, no recruiter, no employer, or rarely does this happen, will come to you and say, “Hey Anna, I know you want to change your direction completely, live a different life and do something completely different in your work. Hey, let me give you your ideal job on a plate here. Don’t worry. You don’t have to work all week. You can work from home. You can travel. You can do exactly what you want. This is your ideal role, and I’m just going to give it to you.” Ta-da. Wouldn’t that be nice.
Nobody’s going to do that. Nobody’s going to pick you for that ideal job because you have to create it yourself. You have to look for it. You have to upskill. You have to make the connections and network and so on. You have to craft the business and the life you want. So no one’s going to pick you. Pick yourself. That’s The Icarus Deception, by Seth Godin.
Another powerful one, which is again, questioning the way we define success, but really how we define success and sets goals specifically, and it’s Danielle LaPorte, who’s written The Desire Map.
She’s again, written many others, and she’s created whole workbooks and all sorts around this, so do check that out. She talks about the idea of core desired feelings. As she says, “It’s goals with soul.” Again, apologies for not getting quite the nuance of her, but I do encourage you to check it out. I read her book on an audio book on Audible. She’s got a lovely soothing voice that’s really nice to listen to.
Rather than me saying, “Hey, I want to buy a house, I want to change into this career, I want to achieve this much money in my income, in my business,” fine, they’re targets to have and so on. She recommends that we take a step back or elevate, I guess, and ask ourselves, “Okay, how do you want to feel?” So independently of those goals, in fact, maybe I want to feel connected. I want to feel fulfilled. I want to feel a sense of belonging. I want to feel radiant. I want to feel present, mindful. There are so many things and it’s so personal to you. Again, I encourage you to read the book if this sounds interesting. She goes through all sorts of different adjectives that you can use and it’s really powerful.
The idea here is that you’re not just setting these almost arbitrary, tangible goals; you’re identifying the feelings you want to feel, and then you’re going after the goals, setting goals that will allow you to generate those feelings. As an example, maybe I want to feel grounded, secure, safe. Maybe buying a house will help me feel that. Maybe that house will help me feel like I have a space for myself. I’ll always have that place to go back to. I feel secure and safe. Maybe however, a house will make me feel tied down and trapped in a really horrible way because I value freedom and autonomy and all these things. Maybe the fact that I now have a mortgage will do the opposite of making me feel safe and secure. I’ll feel again, trapped into those financial obligations. Again, that’s why it’s important to look at the feelings before we set the goal. Maybe the house isn’t the right way to achieve those feelings that you’ve identified.
So without going into more detail, I hope that can show you a little bit of the power of, okay, what do I want to feel from my career, from my business, from my relationship. And then how can I go about setting goals that will help me feel those things rather than the other way round, assuming that having the house will make us feel safe, having the partner will make us feel loved. Having this particular job in this particular company is going to make me feel fulfilled, maybe not. That’s really important.
Finally this one is by Martha Beck; Finding Your North Star, with the subtitle, How to Claim the Life You were Meant to Live. So pretty powerful one.
It was a long time ago I read this, so can’t go into too much detail on it, but I remember it was powerful. What was really important in this one is Martha Beck’s story. She’s a life coach now, but she had this very academic career, very sort of, I guess, high level, probably good girl corporate kind of roles. She was a researcher and taught at Harvard Business School, sociology, business, and so on.
Her second child, I believe, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome before he was born, so in the uterus, I guess pre-birth. I’m not finding the words. The things that people said to her and the advice she got from people who she thought were her friends and colleagues and so on, was so shocking to her and created such a big change in the way she saw things. That actually she of course chose to have the child, Adam, and she went on to change her career completely and live a very different life, rather than that high octane, stressful job that she had before and so on. So it really shifted, clarified her values and led her to the life and the career that she’s running now, which is very different.
Again, a really powerful story I thought, that personal story. I love this idea of the North Star, even just the title, having that guidance, having that thing that you’re working towards. It’s going to look different once you get there, but just knowing that that’s the direction you’re working towards, that’s the shining light that you’re moving towards, is really, really powerful.
Those are the five books that I recommend. Again, do check them out in the show notes on reimaginingsuccesspodcast.com, or have a look on the podcast where you’re at at the moment. Do you let me know if you read them. Of course you can always get me up podcast at onestepoutside.com. I’d love to hear how you get on. I hope these books again, if you’re really at the beginning of the journey or for that matter if you’re further along, I hope these books will help you to discover some alternatives, feel inspired and empowered to begin to redefine success and maybe start taking those steps to follow that different North Star.
Thanks so much for listening. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
Thanks for listening to Reimagining Success, with Anna Lundberg. I’m sure you know someone, a friend, a colleague who could also benefit from this podcast. I’d love for you to share the podcast or maybe your favourite episode with them so that they can listen too. Thank you so much for your support.
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate