Is Reading Narnia & Harry Potter The Secret of Being Successful?

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It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.
— Epictetus

This is the quote that I currently use as a mantra within my daily journaling session. So much wisdom in just a few words.

It is so hard to find that golden meaning Aristotle used to talk about. To be hungry, and have a desire to learn and grow we do need ego. There has to be some competitiveness inside us and desire to be better so that we can face the challenges and failures that are part of learning. Yet, too much of that ego and then we will close our minds, thinking that we already know what’s needed to now, and then the growth will stop.

So what can we do about it?

My answer is to repeat quotes, as mantras, to keep walking towards that golden meaning. Here is another quote I used as a mantra that goes hand in hand with the one I shared at the beginning of this post.

“As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” - John White

How many times in life have you said in your head “ohh… ok, now I get it”? Only to realize that maybe a while after that you then say to yourself “ohhhh… ok, I didn’t get it before… but now I really do!”. Then, this process just keeps going.

At what point do we accept that we will never truly “get it”, while at the same time realize that we are always “getting it”.

The process of learning never ends. If we are not learning and growing we will be left behind. We will never be “there” in terms of learning… but we are also always “there” by taking action.

For Matt and I, books have been, and are still, a big part of our lives and learning process. It’s like having world-class performers as mentors.

On our last post, we shared the 6 books that are essential to create a life worth living. We went broad, thinking about how to add value to everyone’s life. This time around it will be different.

Now we will pick our favorites.

Books That Change Lives

MATT:

Books are one of my first loves. Some of my earliest memories are reading in my room, specifically, about dinosaurs, plants, and other animals. I still remember going to a bookstore when I was young and my mom said I could pick out anything. I was so excited.

So many choices! I went around and finally chose what I thought was a solid read for a 9-year old. She had expected me to pick a Goosebumps title. Instead, I came back with a tome entitled, Life in Ancient Egypt. It was essentially a textbook and one that hooked me on archeology which remained a fascination for decades. True story, I was on an archeological dig in Pylos, Greece excavating near Nestor’s Palace from the Iliad. That being said, it’s hard to choose my favorite books as they change from time to time.

A quick list would be:

  • The Bible: cliche I know, but seriously a book I read 5-days a week and have done so for close to a decade
  • The Art of War: this ancient book on warfare is one I read constantly in high school which helped me as I tried to understand why I never fit in, probably because I read books like The Art of War while others were partying
  • The Obstacle is the Way & Ego is the Enemy: both by Ryan Holiday, these two on Stoicism have been central in how I deal with the world and allowing me to strive toward appreciating life
  • The Space Trilogy & The Chronicles of Narnia: both by C.S. Lewis, I don’t care for fiction much, except for these which easily go on my favorite’s list

The above are what I would want if I was stranded on an island or could never purchase another book (shudders at the thought). Yet, let’s say I can buy more books. My current favorite book is usually the one I just finished.

Today that book is Design is a Job. It is not the best book I have ever read. It is not the most interesting. Yet, it is an amazing book for designers who want to elevate their game.

The book has challenged me to really see myself as a professional and “grow up” as a business owner. The actual work I do is not that hard, it’s the whole being a business owner aspect which is difficult. Design is a Job is not about becoming a better designer, it’s about becoming a better business owner who designs for a living.

Mike Montiero, the author, goes into detail about contracts, invoicing, working with others, and how to be a high-level professional. The reason it’s my favorite, at the moment, is because the book is helping me where I am weak, i.e. being a business owner and not just a worker.

Your favorite book should touch you deeply, all of the above have done so for me. Do you have those books which helped change your life? If not, then it’s time to find a few.

ALEJANDRO:

This is a great and difficult question to answer. What are my favorite books?

I am lucky that both my parents are avid readers, and this is the reason my habit of reading was strengthened. I still remember going to the bookcase in our apartment, which was in the room next to mine and sit there reading headlines to see what would spark my curiosity.

Sometimes I would pick one and would return it after just reading a couple of pages. Others I would read, and make notes, and then I wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks or months.

As I’ve said before, I’m not too big into fiction and this point in my life. Yet, it wouldn’t be fair if I don’t do justice to some of the books that got me hooked into reading.

There is something that I have to admit that fiction books have that non-fiction don’t, and it’s the capacity of keeping you reading non-stop for hours.

When I would read The Hobbit, or Harry Potter, I would forget about time and keep reading until 3, 4, or even 5 in the morning, even though I had school at 7 am the next day (and then my mom would get a call because all I did at school was sleep, sorry mom but I get it paid off in the long run :D).

Our aunt, here in Houston, would sometimes make the line when the new Harry Potter books were being released. And she would have to send 3 copies back to Venezuela so myself and my two cousins wouldn’t fight about reading it first. Thank you, aunt!

Maybe someday I’ll go back to reading fiction. And who knows… maybe some of the wisdom from Gandalf & Dumbledore has made its way into my decision-making algorithm without even knowing.

This book is the bible of being a world-class performer. Period.

One of the best things about the book is that you can open it anywhere and find value. Also, this book will show you the world of many other interesting topics and books that you could then explore.

This is one of the books that I’ve gifted the most. Another positive thing is that it is so big and heavy (600+ pages) that it could be used as a weapon, to workout, etc. Multipurpose!

  • Any book by Malcolm Gladwell (you can start with Outliers)

Just so that you can get interested in his work and keep reading the rest.

What I love about his books is that is the right mix of research, stories, that you can then transform into actionable advice. As a left-brained and OCD person, I like to understand the fundamentals of everything I am reading about or talking about. I enjoy doing the research and finding the why of everything. In these books, you will find amazing stories, and research, that will prove that life’s best advice is hidden behind simple cliches.

One of these books was a gift from Matt, and the other I read because it was first recommended in the Tim Ferriss podcast, and then by Matt.

I picked these two because they speak to my core values. Making things simple, having no excuses, and getting things done.

Jocko Willink if a former Navy SEALs commander, and has a habit of waking up at 4:00 am every morning. He is often asked “How do you wake up at 4:00 am every day?” to which he replies “GET UP EARLY EVERY DAY.”.

Without even reading the book, I had a similar answer to a question that I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past two years when I speak at MBA-related events. Students ask “Should we focus on networking and extra-curricular activities or should we focus on getting straight A’s?” to which I always reply “YES. Do it.”.

Essentialism goes hand-in-hand with Extreme Ownership because it is about having a systematic discipline for everything in life so that we can focus on the things that really matter. As the sub-title of the book says The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Reading Leads to Defining Success on Your Own Terms

Many of the most successful business leaders read constantly. Just look up the reading habits of Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and others. Yet, you don't have to be a billionaire to realize the value of books. 

They are portals to other worlds, instructions manuals to gain skills, and the foundation for defining success on your own terms. Our goal with BizLatte is for you to truly examine your life and choose success for yourself. Not what others think is success, but what you think is success. 

Doing so takes time. Additionally, you need to learn from others, and there is no better way than through the words of those who have already established a life you believe represents your values. So go out there and read transformative books and stay connected to BizLatte with our month resources where we share exclusive content. Sign up below.