The best books to become a self-starter

Jeff Davidson Author Of 60 Second Self-Starter: Sixty Solid Techniques to get motivated, get organized, and get going in the workplace.
By Jeff Davidson

The Books I Picked & Why

Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

By Thomas Moore

Book cover of Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

Why this book?

I was immediately captivated by the refreshing, down-to-earth advice offered here. Put down the barbells (real and metaphorical), says the author, and stop beating yourself up for carrying more than the minimum body fat, and emotionally dependent, angry at your father after all these years, and less than perfect on the job or in a marriage. Stop trying to rid your existence of all its problems, which will never happen anyway, and relish life instead.

He laments that we try so hard to be healthy, to improve ourselves, to be something that we are not already, that we miss much of the pleasure found in the small details of everyday life. I found this to be too true!

 A vital message that I gleaned from Care of the Soul: our lives, families, marriages – however good or bad they are – don't require a complete, total reconstruction. There are ways to accept our lives even if they are not perfect. If we experience illnesses, divorces, losses, and failures of any type, and live through them without emotional denial, we can become people of some wisdom and deeper character. Life will be less superficial. And that's ultimately what will be most satisfying to us.

In business, Moore adds, focus on treating people better. Reexamine what the workplace is, what morale is. Take a look at the importance of architecture, the language, values, and ethics of business. Be concerned about the ‘poetics’ of the workplace and not just about the physical well-being of the individuals. These are words to heed.

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Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need

By Harvey Mackay

Book cover of Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need

Why this book?

Who doesn't like renowned author Harvey McKay? I met him once and he is the real deal. He tells his readers that regardless of when you start, you can build a network of people who will pick up the phone, ready to help, if you ever have to make a call at 2 a.m. The single characteristic shared by truly successful people, he says, is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.

This observation was noteworthy to me: No matter how smart you are, no matter how talented, you can't do it alone. He then explains that a network is an organized collection of your personal contacts and your personal contacts' own networks. Networking is finding fast whom you need to reach, what you need in any given situation, and helping others to do the same. A network can make you look good. A network expands your financial reach infinitely.

The four elements of networking include reciprocity, interdependency, sharing, and keeping at it. Before you meet new people, before you make that call, do your homework. Find the common ground. Determine where their interests and needs lie. Then use that connection. I already knew this but sometimes forget to do the groundwork.

People aren't strangers if you've already met them. The trick is to meet them before you need their help. I can't think of better advice! Get on the nominating committee for any organization you join. Then, you know everything about the new people and movers and shakers in your organization. He cautions that networking is not a numbers game. The idea is not to see how many people you can meet; the idea is to compile a list of people you can count on. A great strategy for self-starters!

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Creative Procrastination: Organizing Your Own Life

By Frieda Porat

Book cover of Creative Procrastination: Organizing Your Own Life

Why this book?

Having control of your time, the author proclaims, is of no value unless it frees time for the human side of life – thinking, creating, planning, and enjoying. My thoughts exactly! Being in control of your time includes paying attention to your health, allowing for more relaxation and creativity, stress reduction, and more joy in everyday life. 

I find this to be so true: We become so prone to using every minute of the day "wisely" that even when we are tired and don't feel well, we push ourselves to do more to justify our paycheck or our existence. "Creative procrastination," as she calls it, is time deliberately planned and scheduled for your own use. 

The reasons why we procrastinate negatively include fears of disapproval, failure, making mistakes, being wrong, sticking our necks out, being noticed, not being noticed, confronting the unknown, committing ourselves, getting into trouble, taking on too difficult a task, being less than perfect, exposing our inadequacies, being rejected, being on the wrong side, and getting criticized. To me this list is invaluable.

Alternatively, creative procrastination involves not feeling guilty when you take time for yourself, but actually feeling good about the time you are taking. It is enhanced by affirmations such as, “I take one hour every day for yoga and other exercise techniques.” Or, “I take one hour every day to devote to my hobby, and I feel relaxed and enriched for doing so.” We go-getters need this kind of input!.

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The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Why this book?

In my opinion, this is an insightful book. The author says that creativity is the natural order of life, and that life is energy, pure creative energy. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator's creativity within us. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.

Creativity is God's gift to us. Substitute the word nature for God if that works better for you. Using our creativity is our gift back to God. Ergo, the refusal to be creative is counter to our true nature. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God and good orderly direction.

Here is another keeper for me: It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.

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Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War

By William G Pagonis, Jeffrey L. Cruikshank

Book cover of Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War

Why this book?

I think that General Pagonis wrote an instant classic. On the battlefield in Iraq, Pagonis began and ended every day by asking, what do we do if Saddam attacks today? I held large classes, he recalls, open to anyone, but especially to our talented reserve forces, to discuss scenarios and potential solutions.

He would ask questions like, "A ship docked at Ad Dammam this morning. It's ready to be unloaded, but the onboard crane breaks. What do you do?" Or, "We suddenly find out we're receiving 15,000 troops today instead of the usual 5,000. How do we adjust to the increase?"

He constantly told people that we all needed to do our Monday-morning quarterbacking on Saturday night, before problems arose. I and everyone I know could benefit from such a policy. The added benefit of this approach was that it promoted collaborative talks about problems and responsibilities across ranks and functions. And, these dry runs over potential problems proved extremely helpful when, for example, they did receive 15,000 people in one day.

General Pagonis realized that they had to do more than just fight fires. They needed a structure, one step removed, that could look ahead and prepare for any eventuality. So he created a logistical cell, separate from the group that was handling day-to-day concerns, to act as an ad-hoc think tank. Their job was to assemble facts and point out whenever they thought the campaign was moving in the wrong direction. In short, the author's approach to accomplishment is a text-book prescription for self-starting and, I think, a minor masterpiece!

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