6 great books for life and success!

I stand firmly by the old adage that knowledge is power. What I've come to discover is that the only real difference between those who aspire to achieve at a high level and those that do is information. I truly believe that the easiest way to learn more and tap into our own potential is by simply picking up a book and reading.

It's no coincidence that the most successful people are students of knowledge and personal development and to paraphrase the words of many of our greatest leaders and success coaches, your level of success in any area of your life is directly related to who YOU are as a person. Simply put, be a better you, and experience better things. 

I put together a list of books that I believe are MUST reads for anyone looking to achieve success in their business, their relationship and in their life. I'd suggest reading these books in the order I've listed them for maximum impact. 


Linchpin - by Seth Godin

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It's hard condensing all of the golden nuggets contained in this book into one or two paragraphs but I'll try. THIS. BOOK. IS. AMAZING! Flat out amazing. Seth Godin (who I commonly refer to as a genius) goes into depth about how today's job market, filled with mostly overworked and underpaid employees is a result of capitalists and big corporations spending the bulk of their efforts over the years trying to make their systems as efficient and cost effective as possible. The idea here is the most efficient labor at the lowest cost possible. 

Godin suggests that the world is in the middle of a shift from this old way of thinking. A change from building a business around a system of easily replaceable, low value workers into a space where having highly valuable, highly skilled and largely irreplaceable pieces is the formula for success. What he describes is the important and the necessity of becoming a linchpin.

Regardless of industry, pick this book up to learn more about how you can become a linchpin in whatever you do.


Start With Why - by Simon Sinek

Boy! This book will change the game for you. If you are a business owner, entrepreneur, creator or collaborator then this is a MUST read. Start With Why by Simon Sinek is the one book you need to help you intuitively and authentically communicate your message to the world. We all have something to say and we all have something we are trying to accomplish. This book puts on the brakes and proposes that rather than focus on the numbers, the money, the features or the logistics that you instead start with why. Simon sums it up beautifully when he says 'People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. And what you do simply proves what you BELIEVE.'

When you really think about it, we've been trained to always come through the door with pros and cons, features, cost savings or anything else when we are tasked with communicating why what we have is better than other options or why we should be chosen for that new positions. Rarely, though, do companies and people keep their 'Why' at the core of what they say and do. Pick up this book to discover more about the WHY behind what you do and learn a lot about yourself and the way you think about success in the process. 

Why do you do what you do?  What do you believe in?


The One Thing -  by Gary Keller w/Jay Papasan

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This book is for EVERYONE. Period. The One Thing is a book that is meant to help you weed through the noise of and distractions of day to day life and being to hone in on that one daily task you can do to create the most impact in reach your goals and dreams as fast as possible. This book was written by one of the founders of Keller Williams Realty the largest real estate firm on the planets. This is a book that was written with the intent of giving people a solid game plan they can follow every single day.

Included our strategies to narrow down your one thing in different areas of your life and also strategies for what they referred to as time blocking. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, time blocking refers to a time of day in which you are completely engaged and focused on completing a task and where you are completely unavailable for outside distractions. So, whether or not it's working on your one thing, reading, or working out time blocking is the one task that with master set you up for ultimate success. In today's world with so many distractions readily available time blocking is the catalyst for change.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is in the process of trying to change their lives as she goes that seem very difficult or very hard to get but is having trouble planning their daily routine and finding the time to allocate towards their goals. This book will be bold for you.


The 12 Week Year - By Brian P. Moran/Michael Lennington

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This book is just what the uber ambitious individual needs to pull pack the reigns on their desire to achieve and focus on making every day intentional and important. However, that can be difficult when you adhere to the typical habit of only setting yearly goals. So many things can change in a year up to and including your financial situation, your level of enthusiasm towards your goal, your health etc. Most importantly, with a goal being 12 months, the average person lacks the urgency to approach every day with the same level of enthusiasm given that they goal they want to accomplish is literally hundreds of days away. A good example of this is how in most sales companies there's an end of year sales push to reach quotas. The last quarter of the year everybody sets records! But the other nine months people just kind of float by.

The 12 Week Year teaches you that by setting 12 weeks goals you increase urgency, efficiency and productivity like no other. It allows you to hone in on exactly what needs to be while omitting everything that is auxiliary or unnecessary. Basically you can achieve more in less time and maximize every single day of the year and not just when there's a deadline looming in the very near future.

I would suggest this book for anyone who's looking to get a handle on their daily routine, is looking for help setting realistic goals or anyone who has set goals in the past but has always fallen a bit short of the finish line. This book will be gold for you!  


The Miracle Morning - by Hal Elrod

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I have to honestly say that this book has indeed change my life. At the time of posting this blog on April 5, 2018 I have successfully completed the miracle morning for 58 out of the last 55 days. What does that mean though? It means that I have woken up at 3 AM to meditate pray read journal visualize and work out before doing anything else. Honest to God truth I have never experienced a higher level of energy a high-level of optimism and an Uber positive approach the day that I just didn't have before.

The miracle morning is amazing because you don't have to be a morning person to have a miracle morning. The book those three discussing how the most important part of our day is that our rep and we wake up. Scientifically speaking it is the time of the day when our brains and emotions are more susceptible to the things that we say and do. Often times when we wake up we have no routine no structure and pretty much no direction for the day. So when one bad thing happens or we get the email that upsets us or we stand Bartholin the side of the bed we let that one moment dictate how the rest of our day will go.

The miracle morning is designed with the hopes that by waking up an hour early before you usually do and going through a few proven principles that help productivity mental and physical wellness or you can begin each day with positivity intention and focus. And from my own experience this book is amazing! I recommend this book for anyone who find themselves having a difficult time controlling their emotions or has a pessimistic view of the day and use the miracle morning to wake up energized refreshed and driven to accomplish your most important tasks each and every day 


The 10x Rule - By Grant Cardone

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What I love most about this book is that it very quickly establishes two things: 1) Most people don't set their goals high enough, 2) Most people don't put enough effort into achieving their goals. On a basic level The 10x Rule simply states that when you are planning to accomplish ANYTHING of significance in life that you need to multiply everything you do by 10 and then get to work.

Concepts like the 4 degrees of action and expansion versus contracting are keystones of what this book is about. If you want to break through the fog of obscurity you have to go all and you have to push until people notice you. That's how you achieve massive success and that's how you become someone who achieves what they set their mind to. If you want average success then this book simply isn't for you. If you want phenomenal success in all areas of life then you have to pick up this book and learn about the principles that will set you apart.

One of my favorite ideas in this book is that your goal should not be too compete but your goal should be to dominate! I recommend anyone who wants to take their life to the next level, regardless of age, industry or skill level.

"Average is a failing formula" - Grant Cardone


If you need a new book to pick up then you really can't go wrong with ANY of these. They're all helpful on different and unique ways but when you combine the concepts given in one intentional effort I know that you'll be able to achieve anything you set your mind to. 

BE GREAT TODAY!


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7 Lessons learned from 2016

It seems as though there is an overwhelming consensus that 2016 just wasn't a good year. If you browsed your timeline on facebook anytime between Halloween and New Years Day it felt like everyone was in a funk. Sad because another icon unexpectedly passed or because life was just making things less than ideal. I'll admit that 2016 was very trying. BUT, after being honest with myself about last year I realized that the year 2016 was a year of growth, change and what seemed like an endless supply of powerful lessons that left me poised to tackle 2017 in the most extraordinary way. I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned and offer advice in hopes that you'll reflect on your year and realize that you probably gained much more than you realize.

**disclaimer** Yes! I am a wedding photographer but it was on my heart to share some of the positives I experienced this year. Enjoy.

LESSON 1: FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Having the right people around you is invaluable. There are a myriad of phrases and slogans such as "If you're the smartest person in the group then you're in the wrong group" or "Your net worth is the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with." Well, it's all true! Lol. If you want to grow and learn and achieve, then you need to spend time with people who are growing, learning and achieving. You need to surround yourself with people who 'get it.' People who understand that if you want to do more, have more and live more that you need to think and act a certain way and that you can't do it alone.

My buddies Jason, Dustin and I with Easton Reynolds (international wedding photographer) at WPPI 2016 in Las Vegas. 

My buddies Jason, Dustin and I with Easton Reynolds (international wedding photographer) at WPPI 2016 in Las Vegas. 

 

Your energy and determination can only get you so far and once you align yourself with people headed in the same direction as you, it's amazing what can happen. January 1, 2016 I literally had no friends who were doing what I wanted to be doing. I felt alone and I felt a little lost. However, after making an effort to be active in my local photography community and then developing a relationship with a handful of individuals who were either doing what I wanted to do or were well on their way, my year started to get better. I had a support system I could call on, people I could ask for advice and most importantly I had people I could share my goals and dreams with. Get around people who you can gain momentum with. It's powerful!!

LESSON 2. MAKE A DECISION

This one simple lesson changed my life this year. My 2016 was filled with a series of self-evaluations, minor setbacks and then a firm decision to change or alter my course of action. At the beginning of the year I was all over the place and had no clear direction on what I wanted to do with photography. I was doing real estate, crossfit competitions, families, senior portraits, weddings, corporate headshots, kids, maternity, videos and more!! I took a small step back at what I was doing and decided that I wanted to focus my energy and effort primarily into shooting weddings. BAM! My first year in business as a wedding photographer I shot 11 weddings, met some of the most amazing people and even flew to California to shoot a wedding.

If you had a bad year, it might be because you haven't made a firm decision in one or more areas of your life. Maybe you want to lose weight, save money, pursue a secret passion you have or find love. It could be anything! Until you actually make a decision and become crystal clear on what it is that you want, you'll continue to float through life taking what comes your way. That's no way to live!! 

LESSON 3. TAKE ACTION

Naturally this is the next step after you make a decision. TAKE ACTION! Do something! Move! Feeling stuck is something we all deal with. Should I post this Facebook ad? Should I market myself in another city? Should I try a new technique or stick to my old routine? Feeling the fear of the unknown or the fear of the uncomfortable can immobilize you. We've all been there. But it is imperative that you take action. Make a choice and execute, even if you end up being wrong. If you want more you have to DO more. That could mean reaching out to someone in your field who you admire or trying something new. But whatever it is you have to make a move. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. If you've made it this far and nothing's changed, you owe it to yourself to do something you've never done. Then you'll have what you've never had. 

 

LESSON 4: SLOW DOWN

A byproduct of finally taking action is either doing too much and burning out or feeling as though you're not doing enough. When it comes to chasing your dreams, pursuing a lifelong passion or reaching for the stars in whatever capacity that means for you, it is the easiest thing in the world to feel as though you need to work double time to accomplish half as much. This just isn't true. Being busy doesn't necessarily equate to progress and achievement. I think about times in 2016 where I felt like I wasn't doing enough and would do things that I had tried before (knowing they wouldn't work) just to feel like I wasn't standing still. One of the most important things I have come to understand is that taking action is good, but slowing down first, taking inventory and THEN moving forward with confidence is the best course of action. Slow down, then speed up. 

LESSON 5: READ MORE BOOKS

I once heard someone say that anything you want to know, any answer you're looking for and any problem you're facing, is somewhere in a book. 2016 taught me that the more I learn, the closer I'll get to my dreams. I'm not saying you have to be a bookworm but I have learned that knowledge is power and when you know better you do better. What I'm striving for is going to require that I be a better version of myself. The easiest way to do that is to just read. Find books written by people who do what you want to do. Books written by masters of the industry you're trying to break into. Find a book that you think will benefit you and dig in. I don't know about you but before this year I would rarely read. Maybe 1 or 2 books a year to be exact. It's no wonder I've been stuck in neutral for what seems like forever. I was never learning, never growing and never evolving. So naturally, I never made any progress. Simply put, if you want more, turn the tv off and read up. 

LESSON 6: DO SOMETHING DAILY

I don't care who you are, if you commit to doing something daily it will change your life. Period. I read a book years ago called 'The Slight Edge.' When I read it I understood what it was saying but I never put any of the principles into action. I can only imagine what my life would look like today if I had taken the advice given in those pages and applied it. The premise is simple: Do something everyday that brings you closer to your goals. Something so small that it would be silly not to do it. The kicker is that it feels like nothing is happening so people fall short. The little things that would bring them closer to what they really want seem insignificant and therefore get put off. 

I'm going to read 24 books in 2017. This number is hefty considering my track record for consistent reading. BUT, I broke it down and realized that if I read at least 1 chapter every single day that by the end of the year I'll hit my goal with ease. I can only imagine how absorbing 24 books worth of knowledge will benefit me this year. Now apply this concept to every area of your life that you want to improve and you WILL see change. Just don't be fooled into thinking that something so small can be skipped. Take it seriously, make a decision, take action and watch your life change. Guaranteed. 

LESSSON 7: GOD IS REAL

Yes, God is out there. I can't really explain it but he's real. At the end of 2016 I decided to start taking daily action to better my life and one thing I committed to doing was daily prayer and meditation (something I've NEVER done) I think that most of us pray when we're in a church environment or we pray when things go wrong but I decided that I wanted something more consistent and chose to do something I've never done with the hope that I would experience things I never have. Long story short, prayer works. I'm not telling you to subscribe to any particular religion. What I am saying is that if you talk to God and ask God with a sincere heart regardless of who you are or where you're at then he will answer. It might take time and the answer might not be exactly what you want but he will answer. 

If you feel stuck in any area of your life and you just don't know what to do anymore or if you have tried and tried but don't seem to have all the answers, I would suggest praying about it. Set aside some time right when you wake up or right before bed to find a quiet place, be still and talk to GOD. There are no right or wrong words to say and no set amount of time. Just talk until you're finished. He's listening.

 

2016 wasn't a bad year if you choose not to look at it that way. That doesn't mean it was perfect. What that means is that there is a lesson to be learned in every single thing that happens to you. All you have to do is look. 

Reflect, think, grow, learn, live, laugh, love, dream. I hope 2017 treats you well.