Book Recommendation: Manuscript Found in Accra

IMG_2337I just finished reading this wonderful book by Paulo Coelho, and recommend to anyone looking for inspiration. Some excerpts:

“Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness. But when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect. We will look around and say to ourselves: ‘I survived.’ And we will be cheered by our words. Only those who fail to recognise that inner strength will say: ‘I lost’, and be sad.”

“Defeat ends when we launch into another battle. Failure has no end; it is a lifetime choice.”

“Stay close to those who sing, tell stories, and enjoy life, and whose eyes sparkle with happiness. Because happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.”

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms. For those who cannot learn to do so, life will be a nightmare.”

What’s your favorite Paulo Coelho’s book? Or any inspiration book. Please share through comments.

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The best tips on productivity, motivation and dealing with depression

I recently had the privilege of connecting and interacting with one of the happiest and most successful people I’ve ever known. He started as a salesman and built one of the biggest direct sales companies in the region. I always admired how he found time for leisure and everything else that he enjoyed doing, even during the busiest times of his business. He retired early and rich, while the company runs on the systems he had built. In the following note, he shared with me his thoughts on motivation, productivity and dealing with depression:

Books: Two books that helped me greatly are:

  1. How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
  2. The Happiness Purpose by Edward De Bono

And my favorite now for ageless wisdom is The Portable Thoreau edited Carl Bode.

Work Habits: 

  • Keep a ‘time diary’ for 10-30 days. Log everything you do from wake-up to sleep – every phone call, every meeting, every cup of coffee. Review and you will find there is much wasted and unproductive time, which could be spent constructively on work or quality leisure. Make the adjustments.
  • Do jobs IMMEDIATELY and FINISH them.

By doing these two things I accomplished the same in one third of the time than most people! Now I am stress-free and have lots of leisure. Continue reading

The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

I’ve been reading this fascinating book for the last few days, by the same author who wrote the #1 bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek. It says you’ll learn, in less than 30 minutes each:

  • How to prevent fat gain while bingeing
  • How to increase fat-loss 300% with a few bags of ice
  • How to gain 34 pounds of muscle in 28 days, without steroids, and in four hours of total gym time
  • How to sleep 2 hours per day and feel fully rested
  • How to go from running 5 kilometers to 50 kilometers in 12 weeks
  • How to reverse “permanent” injuries
  • How to add 150+ pounds to your lifts in 6 months

Most of these appear to be tall claims, but I’m going to try a few things and see. I’ve already gone on the ‘slow-carb’, high protein diet to convert the few inches of fat into muscle. Will post the results in a few weeks.

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Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Watching lots of seagulls recently, I was reminded of this inspiring book I had read a few times during the late 80’s. I just read it again and realized why it’s called a classic. It’s a short and simple story of a seagull called Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but the message is powerful and inspiring. Instead of a review, here are a few excerpts from the book:

…Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest flight – how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly.

…Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.

…’How you manage to love a mob of birds that has just tried to kill you?’ ‘Oh, you don’t love that! You don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s what I mean by love.’

I recommend this book very highly, regardless of your age, interests or profession. Please share what your favorite books are.

[Photo taken at the Rotorua Lake, NZ. More beautiful photos of NZ here.]

The Other Hand by Chris Cleave

The Other Hand is a captivating and inspiring story of a 16-year old Nigerian refugee, who calls herself Little Bee, and her relationship with a British woman. It’s a novel based on facts about refugees, asylum seekers and the immigration detention centers in the UK.

Instead of summarizing the story, the back cover of the book reads: “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it… once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.”

Buy softcover book from Amazon.

Have you read any inspiring book lately? Please tell us through comments.

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No time to read? Try audio books!

In an earlier post I wrote about the pros and cons of audiobooks. The article was quite popular and did a few rounds around cyberspace. Check it out if you had missed it.

Since writing that post, I have become a big fan of audiobooks. I often listen to them while driving (alone), taking long walks and during sleepless nights on long flights. Besides the seven advantages I listed in the earlier post, I also find it easier to preview an audio version before buying a hardcopy.

Audible has become my favorite place to download audiobooks. There are different subscription plans that offer up to 30% savings and let you download a book of your choice every month. There are thousands of books in various categories, both fiction and non-fiction. If you have a computer with iTune and an MP3 player, try it once. ‘No time to read’ is no more an excuse!

PS. Just downloaded Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk for the overnight flight to Dubai – in case none of my fellow passengers wants to tell me her life story 🙂 Off to a bookshop now to buy a real book, just in case the battery on my iPhone runs out 🙂

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Linchpin: Be Indispensable, by Seth Godin

This was my first experience with an audiobook that I mentioned in my post about pros and cons of audiobooks. Whether you prefer the audiobook or printed version, I recommend it to anyone who reads my blog (is interested in enhancing life). In the words of the author:

“I didn’t set out to get you to quit your job or to persuade you to become an entrepreneur or merely to change the entire world. All I wanted to do in this book was sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve. If I’ve succeeded, then you know that you have a gift to give, something you can do to change the world (or your part of it) for the better. I hope you’ll do that, because we need you.”

And I think he has done a great job of it. A linchpin is someone that is remarkable. They bring the emotional labor to their work. They pour themselves into what they do because they know it is the right thing to do, and they become better people for living and working this way. This also makes them very scarce, and that scarcity makes them valuable – indispensable. I love what Seth says about art:

“Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another. … I think it’s art when a great customer service person uses a conversation to convert an angry person into a raving fan. …Nobody cares how hard you worked. It’s not an effort contest, it’s an art contest. As customers, we care about ourselves, about how we feel, about whether a product or service or play or interaction changed us for the better.”

Seth also explains the lizard brain and resistance – part of the answer to my questions in the post about Contradictions. You can read more reviews here.

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