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The Three Best Books I Read in 2020

If you missed my last post, I recapped ‘Almost all the books I read in 2020.’ Check that one out for a pretty exhaustive list. Today I just want to go over the best three. I think each of them came along at just the right time and taught me lessons I might not have been ready for in other times of life. Then again, that’s what many great books (and people!) do, right? Ok, enough introduction, let’s just get right into it:

3. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones – I picked this one up right as we entered “lockdown” back in March. In between managing how to best take care of our CFG members and gym owners I work with around the world, this book had perfect timing to help me focus on getting done what was most important. I carved out a lot more time than normal to read and finished this one quicker than I normally would. I’ve read plenty of other books on habit-building, but the combination of James Clear’s witty writing and practical approach (not to mention all the fitness analogies he used) made this one stick more than any other. Go figure. Anyhow, the concepts and processes he lays out have not only made their way into my life, but also in the operations and service delivery at both of my companies (CFG and Two-Brain Coaching). If you’re not much of a book person, but are still interested in this topic, I’d recommend two things: first, follow James Clear on social media. Second, sign up to receive his weekly newsletter. He only sends it once per week and as he says at the beginning of each one, he is “Working to deliver the most wisdom per word of any newsletter on the web.”

2. Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise – I bought this a couple weeks before we went on our first trip to Asheville and could hardly wait to crack it open the first chance I got. It is the story of how Horst Schulze built the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group into the finest hotel chain ever by painstakingly refining and upgrading the experience of his guests. Even as they were winning awards and accolades labeling them as the best in the business, he never compromised or got complacent. An internal mantra that I’ve long had for myself and my businesses is ‘Do Average Elsewhere’, so it’s safe to say his writing resonated with me. I learned that there is so much work to be done in order to fulfill the vision we have, which is hugely exciting for me. It also helped me understand why I value ‘experiences’ (as opposed to things or deals or access, etc) so much and why it’s important that everyone that comes to CFG has an absolutely positive and memorable one, no matter what.

1. Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America From The Culture of Contempt – If there is just one book that I wish was required reading for every person on the planet, my first choice would be the Bible. Right after that would be this gem. Whether we like to admit it, we all have biases and prejudices that cloud the way we see the world. This impacts the way we interact with one another, both for the good and the bad. I know bias and prejudice have negative connotations, so maybe replace that in your head with “perspective.” Arthur Brooks does a great job separating logic from emotion and peels back the layers of what makes us different so that we can ultimately see what most good people know to be true – we all actually have far more in common that we’d care to admit. Unfortunately, just recognizing that isn’t enough to make a real difference. The next step to changing our country, and then the world, is first to work on ourselves (Funny how this truth keeps showing up). Brooks provides a nice 5-step framework for doing that at the end. Instead of spoiling it and sharing here, you should just get a copy and read it. If you are disappointed with it, let me know and I’ll buy your copy from you…and gift to someone else, HA! And no, the irony of a political-sounding book making it to my number one spot is not lost on me. But if I’m being honest, I never took it as that one bit. It’s really about common sense. The only issue? “Common sense ain’t so common.” Now that’s good English!

What were YOUR favorite reads in 2020? What do you have on tap for the new year? Stay tuned and I’ll continue to share what I’m learning!

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