“Standing on the shoulders of Giants”. According to Wikipedia this well known phrase can trace its most familiar expression in English to a letter written by The Sir Isaac Newton where he wrote the following; “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. Today I recalled this phrase as I meditated on what I had learned during this week. You see lately I have been reading a very interesting piece of literature by none other than Robert C. Greene titled Mastery. Greene is well known for his oft Machiavellian writing style in books such as 48 Laws of Power, and the 33 Strategies of war, but in this book Mastery I felt he took a slightly different approach in setting the tone and the direction of its overarching message. In this book Greene recounts the early lives and experiences of well known legends of antiquity and as well as modern time greats to give his audience insight in the unlikely paths each of his subjects took on their journey to mastery.
I was very drawn in as I could see many parallels to these great men and women and the way my life has also gone so far. They all had seem to have had seemingly insurmountable obstacles which seemed to not make it likely for them to succeed. Things such as, not being of noble birth, having oppressive parents, dealing with countless failure, and coping with ridicule from their contemporaries are just a few of the situations these Masters had to overcome. They like all of us dealt with moments of great self-doubt however the way they dealt with their inadequacies I found, is what made them into true masters of their time. When met with seemingly insurmountable difficulty, they responded to the challenge head-on with unyielding tenacity and grit. It is often easy to deify these great, accomplished people whose names now carry on through history, and we forget that these people were mere mortals like you and I facing the very same challenges life presents to us all. In actuality, what made them different was their response to life’s challenges. In learning more about their stories I felt myself forming a more complete understanding for the price of greatness.
This must truly be what it means to stand on the shoulders of giants. This apothegm is true now more than any other time in history as it is the epitome of what defines our modern information driven age. We can call upon the experiences and accomplishments of those who came before us to enable us to expand our collective horizons further than we have before. To me I believe this statement does not necessarily mean that in stand on the shoulders of our predecessors we become greater than they were, but rather that we can stand on their shoulders and continue their ascent for the further progression of our kind.
After my first blog post here on my new website I was asked by a friend what were some books that I have found helpful during my journey this past year. This question brought a smile to my face as I thought what good subject matter this question would be. You see the way I was initially able gain self confidence in myself and make the decision to drop my previous path and pursue something that was truly meaningful for me was due to the literature I absorbed beforehand. At the time I knew that I had to make a change in my life but I simply didn’t know how to go about it or what to expect or if making a change was really the right thing to do. So I set to spending most of my leisure time to researching and reading about the people I admired most, wanting to emulate, or perhaps find their secret to success in their stories. Learning more about these people and their stories helped truly humanize them and caused a paradigm shift in my thinking about life.
So I would like to use this bandwidth to share my top 5 books in no special order in molding my thinking and cultivating the confidence and courage to follow my dreams.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiwosaki
This book is immensely popular around the Multi-Level Marketing(MLM) scene. While generally avoid such operations like the plague, there is something to be admired about the unrelenting spirit of their top performers. After reading this book I understood how they cultivated their ambitious nature and I honestly have to say this book really changed my perspective and effectively led me to changing my life. Although it is not about any well known successes and its narrative is mostly pretense, it carries a very real lesson and was immensely inspiring and motivating.
The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
In my opinion The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, is staple literature for anyone who has ever had the strong will to build something from the ground up. In The Lean Startup, Eric recounts his experiences taking the online social community IMVU from its very humble beginnings to an “overnight” success as well as lessons learned by other famous entrepreneurs and business. The main theme of this book is how one can actually take advantage of a lack of resources to promote the efficiency, ingenuity, and innovation that is necessary to build build a meaningful business.
Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
While I am admittedly very much an Android & PC kind of guy, like I imagine many of you found Steve Jobs an obviously alluring and influential subject. Indeed, Steve Jobs was one of those people in that elite circle of great modern day renaissance men. After watching a few minutes of that silly biopic featuring Ashton Kutcher I was intrigued to learn more about the wild and crazy story of how Steve Jobs became to be one of the most influential and polarizing figures of our time. The biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson definitely delivered. Indeed there was something special about Steve that one might say had destined him from birth to become who he became, but the same thing could have utterly destroyed him and came close to several times. The roller coaster that was the life of Steve Jobs will really put into perspective how human these great people are.
How to Win friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
This book contains timeless truths in how to interact with people constructively. I’m sure we all have heard one time or another that sometimes it is about who you know, well this book is all about how you get to know them. I can not do justice to how powerful the premise of this book is and the impact it has had on my life.
Mastery – Robert Greene
I have already said a little about this book. I am still currently reading it but I know that it is definitely in my top 5. Robert Greene recounts the tales of ascension as well as peril of many of the greatest figures in history and offers advice on how to achieve mastery supported by the lives of masters. I have gleaned a lot of knowledge these past couple days of reading this book and I know this will be a book that I revisit many times in my life.
There you have it. These are my top 5 favorite books at the moment. I cannot summarize how important these books have been to me in becoming the person I am today. Still I am constantly on the look out for more great reads. If you also have some books that you think have had a great impact on you and reshaped your thinking, please definitely recommend them in the comments!