Do you know what trips up most people when it comes to entrepreneurship? Is it their level of skill, expertise or education? Or is it their ability to network or form connections? Is it ability to work really long hours or is to take big risks? It’s actually none of these things.
Sure, you must know what you are doing, and must be capable of functioning as a sound individual. However, there is one thing that remains the single biggest factor in determining whether or not you are going to be a success as an entrepreneur. It’s your mindset. Your inner game.
Can you go past your fear and get out of your comfort zone? Can you focus on one thing, stop chasing shiny objects and get rid of procrastination? Do you look at the opportunities and stop obsessing about your problems? Have you got a big vision? Can you get out of your own way to become successful?
The moment you master your inner game, you are well on your way to achieving all your dreams. Don’t believe me? Then listen to some of the brightest minds and see what they have to say on the subject.
Top 10 must read Success Mindset books for Solopreneur:
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
- Switch; How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- The Power of Habit (Why We Do What We Do) by Charles Duhigg
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
- The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
- Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin
- The Dip: The Little Book that Teaches You when to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
#1 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
This has got to be one of my all-time favourite books on the subject of motivation. Daniel Pink explains the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and shows you what makes people tick. “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
On the other hand if you are choosing rewards in order to motivate yourself, then be careful because “Rewards can deliver a short-term boost—just as a jolt of caffeine can keep you cranking for a few more hours. But the effect wears off—and, worse, can reduce a person’s longer-term motivation to continue the project.”
Here’s what he has to say on the subject of setting goals. “Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others–sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on–can sometimes have dangerous side effects.”
#2 Switch; How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The first book is about motivating yourself and this one is about changing behaviours. And as we all are too well aware, none of those is an easy task. Change is hard. Heath brothers explain so eloquently:
“The bigger the change you’re suggesting, the more it will sap people’s self-control. And when people exhaust their self-control, what they’re exhausting are the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus, to inhibit their impulses, and to persist in the face of frustration or failure. In other words, they’re exhausting precisely the mental muscles needed to make a big change. So when you hear people say that change is hard because people are lazy or resistant, that’s just flat wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that’s the second surprise about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.”
#3 The Power of Habit (Why We Do What We Do) by Charles Duhigg
Continuing on the theme of make changes, this one is about creating new habits. Here are some words to inspire you: “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
And “The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it. To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”
My favourite bit is when he explains the concept of limited supplies of willpower. “Willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.”
This means to do the most important things early in the day when you have large reserves of willpower at your disposal rather than leaving them to the end of your day when they are running low. “If you want to do something that requires willpower—like going for a run after work—you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day.” Highly recommended.
#4 The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
If you could pick up just one book to master your inner game: to overcome resistance and fear, and take action steps towards your big goals, I would recommend this one.
“Are you paralysed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
And “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” Simply brilliant!
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” If you are not inspired enough, here is the last one to do just that. “Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
#5 The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
Now we are moving on to focus. This book is about choosing your one thing in all areas of your life (professional, personal and spiritual) and focusing on that one thing alone. “It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”
You don’t have to a lot of busywork. You just need to do the right things. “Not everything matters equally, and success isn’t a game won by whoever does the most. Yet that is exactly how most play it on a daily basis. You need to be doing fewer things for effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”
And “Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.” A very quick and easy read with plenty of a-ha moments. You can’t go wrong with this one.
#6 The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
Are you someone who is a checklist addict? Well, this is most definitely your kind of book. And even if you are not, I high recommend you pick this one up and what makes the humble checklist so much more effective than most complex systems out there.
“One essential characteristic of modern life is that we all depend on systems—on assemblages of people or technologies or both—and among our most profound difficulties is making them work.”
And Gawande will convince you the usefulness of a simple checklist. “Good checklists, on the other hand are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything–a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps–the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.”
#7 Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Have you ever wondered why some people are so extraordinarily successful? Why some people are so smart, talented and successful that they seem like freaks of nature? Well, Gladwell offers a ton of insights into this phenomenon. And explains how you can achieve similar success as well.
He begins by offering an explanation to where these people seem to spring from. “I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing….It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”
He looks at the God given talent as well as the environment but says: “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” That “The people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”
#8 Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin
This book is a perfectly fine read on its own but because the author explores the same theme as Gladwell does, it becomes even more enjoyable if you read it once you have read the first one.
Colvin talks about deliberate concept, a term originally coined by the renowned psychologist K. Anders Ericsson. “Deliberate practice requires that one identify certain sharply defined elements of performance that need to be improved, and then work intently on them.”
He also suggests to do whatever it takes to expand your skills and craft. “If you set a goal of becoming an expert in your business, you would immediately start doing all kinds of things you don’t do now.”
#9 The Dip: The Little Book that Teaches You when to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
The first time I read this book, I was gobsmacked. It’s okay to quit? This is what I keep thinking. Quitting is not for losers? The concept blew my mind. And since then I have adopted this philosophy which has saved me time, effort and headache on numerous occasions.
You see Seth Godin explains the concept of strategic quitting. He talks about cul-de-sac and the dip, one is a dead end you need to get out of and one is where you just need to get through it. He says, “Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it.”
And “The essential thing to know about the Dip is that it’s there. Knowing that you’re facing a Dip is the first step in getting through it.” He says it is okay to quit. “Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt.”
And my favourite: “Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.”
#10 Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Do you identify as an introvert? Do you sometimes worry if you too can become successful in spite of your introverted nature?
This book is a game changer for all introverts in the world (and I will raise my hand). And if you are still not sure whether you are one, this will make it clear for you.
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.” She further goes on to say:
“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”
“…I also believe that introversion is my greatest strength. I have such a strong inner life that I’m never bored and only occasionally lonely. No matter what mayhem is happening around me, I know I can always turn inward.”
I can’t possibly list of my favourite quotes from this one – there are just too many but I’d like to end on this one. “So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don’t let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don’t force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way.”
So there you have it
This is my list of top ten books every entrepreneur – or every human being for that matter – should read. Books like these should be made compulsory reading in colleges – this is how passionate I am about teaching these concepts around mindset and behaviour early on. The lessons apply to every facet of your life and you will reap tremendous rewards when you apply them. Go on. Dive in.