Books that have most impacted me

All of my life I have been a reader. Living in the country on a farm growing up we didn’t have a lot of books, but our county had a good public library. During the summer Mom would take me into town where we would stop in the library. I would check out several books to read until my next trip into town. During the school year the library would send a bookmobile to the county schools where I would check out books to read. This love for books has continued into my adult life. I continue to read 40-50 books a year. Almost all of them involve aspects of ministry, leadership and success. I want to share some of my all-time favorite books on leadership and success.

My #1 book has to be the Bible. As a believer I find that it contains directions for how to live my life to the fullest. Even if one is not a believer he or she will find the Bible contains many principles on handling money, leading others and making wise decisions regarding family, business and one’s personal life.

Perhaps the second book that has most impacted my life is John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition). When this book first came out I heard Maxwell teach these laws at a conference, and they changed the way I understood leadership. I refer to the book regularly when I talk to others about leadership, and I’ve referenced it in several of my books.

A third book that has been very instrumental to my understanding of leadership is Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author by John Kotter. Change is essential in any organization, but as we all know, leading change is difficult. Much of the change I’ve had to initiate has been in churches, volunteer organizations, where change is especially difficult to introduce. This book gave me important tools to help me do that, not only in churches, but in business organizations I’ve lead. This is a very important book in my library.

Derailed: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership (NelsonFree) by Tim Irwin demonstrates how even well-known CEOs of major organizations can fail in providing the leadership those organizations needed. After dissecting the causes of the failures the author identified five lessons we can learn. The first is that character trumps competence. The second is that arrogance is the mother of all derailers. You can read more about them and the other three lessons in the book. Reading this helped me be more self-aware of my own leadership.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, an insightful book that explains that when people pay you for a job well done they are giving you a “certificate of appreciation.” In a time when entrepreneurship and successful business people are under attack and socialism is being promoted as superior to capitalism, this book reveals why being in business is an honorable and decent thing and why no one should ever be ashamed of making a good living doing honest work. I love this book.

Tomorrow I’ll share five more books that have impacted my life and my understanding of leadership and success.

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