Friday, August 7, 2015

Paradigm-Changing Books

Merriam-Webster defines paradigm as "a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about."

A number of books are read every year that affect readers in some way. While some books clearly delineate two different ways of approaching the world, many others make an impact in a more subtle way, by introducing a new way of thinking that lingers in the mind after reading.

The books listed here are books that I have read which have affected me by either affecting actions  I take or my way of thinking. These books have changed my perspectives on the world.

True Believer - Eric Hoffer
In True Believer, Eric Hoffer presents a theory about why people join religious groups, cults, and followings. Why do people leave a seemingly normal life and risk everything by joining groups like ISIS (the Islamic State) or contribute to political change? Drawing on examples from events during his life, Hoffer's philosophy still applies.

 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
This book contains seven habits that will help you prioritize activities in your life, set better goals, improve interactions with others, and become more effective personally and professionally. Perhaps the most famous of the habits, "Begin with the end in mind," is also one of the best.

How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
Like 7 Habits, this book contains simple, common sense tips, but they are so hard to apply! The first nine principles lay the foundation for the rest of the book. Filled with examples the book is easy to read and definitely worth rereading from time to time. The first principle, never criticize, condemn, or complain, is one that I continually work on.

Science & Human Behavior - BF Skinner
Although Skinner is largely unknown outside of the professional mental health community, Skinner's work is well known because we all apply his principles to our lives. We are continually seeking to alter our own behavior as well as that of others. If you've ever given a children a smiley sticker in order to increase the likelihood that the positive behavior will continue, you've applied Skinner's work to your life. In the book, the author describes the essentials of how to modify behavior with reinforcement, extinction, and punishment. These three are not equally effective.

The 45 Second Presentation That Will Change Your Life - Don Failla
Although this book is geared towards network, multi-level marketers, the basic concepts of recruiting people into your organization, creating a sustainable plan for training, and motivating others apply to everyone. Consisting for 12 presentations, the genesis of the book came from the idea that you can sit down with someone at lunch and draw this information out on napkins.

The Memory Book - Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas
When I was in college I found myself failing the daily map quizzes in history class. Looking for any help to improve my grades, I came across this book. I applied a couple of the simple techniques in order to memorize the various locations on the maps, and significantly improved my scores. Although I lost the copy I owned in college, I now own this as an e-book and am continuing to work on applying these principles for a better memory.

Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl
Half of this book is about Viktor Frankl's experience in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. A psychiatrist prior to the war, he lost his wife and other family members. However, while he noticed that many around him simply lost all hope for the future, he continually made plans for his life after the war. This mindset helped him tolerate the terrible situation into which he was forced. The second part of the book is his theory of psychology drawn largely from his experiences and observations.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive & Others Die - Chip & Dan Heath
Why is it that we can easily recall the various urban legends we read about on Facebook but can't recall the discussion from yesterday's staff meeting? There are principles that, if applied, will help our messages to family, coworkers, and customers more likely to be retained. The authors present six principles to improve the "stickiness" of ideas.

Modern Mind Mapping for Smarter Thinking: Tony Buzan
Mind mapping is a visual brainstorming method that consists of writing a topic in the center of a page and then writing 4-5 keywords or facets of the topic around the topic. By connecting lines between the topic and the keywords, and subsequently to more specific details, you are, according to Tony Buzan, mimicking the way our synapses fire in our brains. Our minds do not catalog information in a linear fashion, but continually search for connections in order to retrieve stored knowledge. The mind mapping technique will increase your creativity.

Propaganda - Edward Bernays
Why is it that we wear denim jeans and eat bananas? Edward Bernays breaks it all down by revealing the secrets used by governments, corporations, and other groups to influence populations to adopt a certain paradigm. Propaganda is not just for enemy governments pushing their agenda. Every organized agency utilizes it to some degree.

What do you think about my book selections? What books have you read that have changed your life?

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