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The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

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Anthony Pica
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The 5 Best Books I Read in 2018

Extreme Ownership

Extreme Owneship book cover

This is one of my favorite books on leadership. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin do a great job sharing the leadership principles they learned in the Navy SEALs during the Iraq War and the Battle of Ramadi.

"Combat is reflective of life, only amplified and intensified."

The same principles that helped them succeed during the war can help us succeed at work and in life.

The main idea I gathered from the book is portrayed in its title: Extreme Ownership. It's become my leadership philosophy. It's a mindset I've valued and incorporated in my management style for quite some time, but never put a name to it until I read this book.

Extreme Ownership is the practice of first looking inward at what we can do better. It's the opposite of blaming other people.

At work, if my manager assigns me a project, and it fails, I first think about what I could have done differently. Perhaps I could have asked more questions before starting the project. If I assign my team a project, and we don't meet our objective, I first think about how I could have set expectations or supported the team better.

The book is conveniently organized into Story, Principle, and Application to Business. And it repeats a dozen times, one for each of the twelve principles.

Mastery

Mastery book cover

Mastery is loaded with stories you can learn from. Stories from geniuses and artists and craftsman. People that can be your virtual mentors.

In childhood, we have an innate curiosity that helps us understand the world. As we progress into adulthood, we lose touch of that sense of curiosity. But if we maintain a child-like mindset, we can continue to learn and understand things in ways other people cannot.

Learning is the key to achieving your Life's Task.

In the book Mastery, you can learn from people like Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Temple Grandin.

There are three phases of learning: Apprenticeship, Creative-Active, and Mastery.

This book is brilliant and holds a sacred place on my shelf.

If you want to be a genius, this book is the recipe.

Sapiens

Sapiens book cover

An enlightening account of how we got to be who we are, and where we might end up.

Learn how we progressed through the Cognitive Revolution, the Agriculture Revolution, and the Scientific Revolution.

Zero to One

Zero to One book cover

Going from "zero to one" means creating some new.

A new business, an idea, a technological advancement. Perhaps even something we can't imagine yet.

You create a new category or start a new trend or disrupt an industry.

Peter Theil's ideas will inspire you to dream bigger and not conform to conventional thoughts.

Deep Work

Deep Work book cover

Shallow work like formatting documents, scheduling meetings, and reading social media is easier but much less valuable than deep work.

Author Cal Newport defines deep work as "Professional activities performed in a state of distraction free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit."

"Deep work returns more value per time spent, and it stretches your abilities, leading to improvement."

As Eric Barker puts it, deep work is the superpower of the 21st century.

For me, coming up with something creative and profound requires intense, uninterrupted focus. Yes, serendipity strikes and my subconscious will sometimes have that "aha" moment when I least expect it, but it's really only after I've consciously concentrated on a particular idea beforehand.

The book provides reasons why deep work is effective, and provides practical advice to get valuable things done.

It's all about using your finite willpower to control your attention and deliberately focus on one particular idea without succumbing to all of the distractions found in our busy lives, such as our phone notifications.

Distractions aren't evil. To the contrary, Cal suggests that we embrace boredom. We should take breaks from our distraction-free focus to re-energize our mental faculties. The key is to schedule your breaks intentionally.

This is one of my favorite books, because it created a foundation for being more productive. I'm more efficient when reading books, I think more clearly and strategically, I waste less time, I build skills faster, and I'm overall happier because my mind is geared toward peak performance.

Read my book summary on Deep Work.

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