​​A Not-So-Quick Note About Business Books

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(I know I promised to make Friday posts short – 200 words or less. This one got out of hand. Sorry about that.)

 Today I'm sharing a link to a piece from Inc. – yet another list of top 10 business books to read. In this case, the author has used the qualifier "Eye-Opening".

 I'd suggest you go to the article and see just why this is such an interesting list. One of the many things I found fascinating was how old some of the books are. For example, the list includes The Peter Principlefrom the late 60's. (Never read it myself. Heard a lot about it, but never read it.) It also includes How to Lie with Statistics from 1954. (A book I have read and would suggest to anyone - auditors in particular.)

 Which raises this question: If some of the best business books are from years ago, why do more and more business books keep getting written? I would propose that it is our fear that we are missing something and our insatiable desire to find better ways to do anything and everything.

 I read quite a few business books, picking up ones that catch my eye, hit a buzzword I like, or look as if they will have something to say to me. And well over 90% of the time (I'm just making this number up) I am disappointed; I find nothing new, nothing valuable, nothing but rhetoric and regurgitated nonsense.

 However, so you know where I'm coming from, I felt Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peoplewas a waste. And there's the real rub; that's why there is so much being published; that is why you have to keep searching and reading. What works for me won't necessarily work for you.

 Everyone who puts out one of these books has had an insight in how to do their jobs better, how to be a better leader, or how to be a better person. And they are trying to share that insight with you. And everyone who pushes one of these books on you has gained value from the book. And they want to share that value with you. It all stems from people having a "Eureka" moment, an epiphanous flash, a light on the road to Damascus, that has so overcome them they cannot help but want to share that moment with you – cause you to have the same blinding insight. 

 Mind you, it doesn't always work. (In fact, I'd go so far as to say it usually doesn't work.)

 But when it does, when we share that flash, when we share "Eureka", when we are all blinded by the light, we learn volumes about ourselves and those around us. 

 And that is why, in spite of the made-up number I have used to represent my success rate, I keep reading all those mediocre business books. I'm looking for that next insight.

 And, even when, in disgust, I throw a book away as useless (this is purely hypothetical – I never throw books away - let's not dig into that particular psychological problem at this point, okay?), I can count on one hand the number of times (again, a number I have made up) I didn't get something out of the book – a small nugget, a gentler reminder, a little piece of tasty fluff (note to self – ugly image – never use that one again). 

  And that's why you should be exploring what is out there, also.  Maybe for you it is Stephen Covey; maybe it is Auditing by Bell and Johns, copyright 1948 (a real book – I have it right here – did I mention I don't throw anything away); or maybe it is something from Oprah's book club. It doesn't matter; what matters is that you are exploring. Maybe you will have a grade-A, number-one epiphany. But, at the very least, you should be gaining something. Because, when you are actually paying attention as you read, then it should cause some change.

 And that is the point. While we often read to be entertained, we should also be reading to change ourselves – make ourselves better. Most time, no single book will make a huge difference (there are exceptions). But, if you are reading and paying attention, then you should be changed – if only a little bit.

 My interest has been piqued by the list from Inc.  I want to read the ones I haven't, and revisit the ones I have. And I say to you, go find some books that pique your interest and read them. And please feel free to share with all of us the ones that have made a difference.

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