At this point, I can’t count the number of times I asked myself this question,
“How did they do it?” Have you ever asked yourself this question?
Books, blogs, and online videos claiming to hold the “secret to success”
attract a lot of attention. It’s tempting to look at the table of contents, or
skim the bullet points, or fast forward through that popular TED talk for
something you can use to advance your career.
Over the span of my career, I dedicated a lot of time to contemplating the
answer. I will share my solution to this question, the one I put into practice,
and why I found it true for me.
First, I have no desire to imitate someone else. I never wanted to find a
way to copy someone else. I studied to stimulate my thinking and
imagination. I was determined to create or invent my path to success. I
searched for years to discover the “secrets” to success, and I have
confirmed one undeniable principle. I’ll share it now.
There are no secrets to success!
I do not claim to know all the answers; there is much in this world I don’t
know. However, I did discover a way to learn more about success, and it
did not come from books about success “secrets” – my most significant
discoveries came from biographies and autobiographies of successful
people. Reading about the lives of successful people revealed the
obstacles, adversity, and challenges they faced. The stories of their lives
show us how often they tried and failed; and (reveals) their determination to
work until they succeeded.
In these books, I discovered what I did not know and that inspired me to learn
more and not give up until I succeeded.
Looking for inspiration for your journey to success? Here are thirteen of my
favorite biographies. I recommend you consider looking for the inspiration
and wisdom you seek between the covers of these books.
Bennis, Warren: Still Surprised by Warren Bennis with Patricia Ward
Biederman. This memoir has special meaning for me because it gave me
insight into the thought process of one of the most esteemed writers on
leadership and management in modern times. I rank Bennis as one of the
two greatest business writers of my lifetime.
Carmi, Avner: The Immortal Piano by Avner and Hannah Carmi: This
autobiography is absolutely the best quest story I have ever read. I have
read it more than once and look forward to reading it again.
Carnegie, Andrew: Andrew Carnegie and the Rise of Big Business by
Harold C. Livesay: This biography of my favorite business mogul of the
Industrial Revolution is a fascinating story. Carnegie’s business principles
and practices would fit any age. He was a man who made the most of his
opportunities, made outstanding contributions to his time and invested his
resources in the future.
Cathy, Truett: It’s Easier To Succeed Than To Fail by S. Truett Cathy:
How did a tongue-tied boy working in the kitchen of his mother’s boarding
house become a successful businessman and a popular public speaker?
He often said, “It’s easier to succeed than fail.” Cathy explains that
statement as he tells his story of the development of the Chick-fil-A
restaurant chain. You will see this man’s success in life extended far
beyond his business. He uses simple words to convey a profound
Drucker, Peter: The World According to Peter Drucker by Jack Beatty:
In these words from The Economist, Drucker has been labeled “the
greatest thinker management theory has produced.” He was that, but more
important to most of us his thinking was clearly stated in his twenty-nine
books on management, industrial organization, employee motivation, and
most important for me personal development. Of all of the writers on
management, leadership and executive effectiveness Drucker is the
absolute best! I have read his book The Effective Executive dozens of
Franklin Benjamin: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter
Isaacson: It is said that there have been more biographies written of
Franklin’s life than any other of America’s Founding Fathers. I have read
several, but this is my favorite. The more you learn about Franklin the
more you will appreciate that he is indeed the original model American.
This book is definitely a must read.
Kroc, Ray: Grinding It Out by Ray Crock with Robert Anderson: Written
in 1976, this is a from-the-heart autobiography told by Kroc in his own
words that clearly convey his founding operating principles and customer
focused practices that made McDonald’s America’s favorite hamburger
Lewis, Meriwether: Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose: This is
my favorite book on the Lewis and Clark exploration of the American West
after Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase. Meriwether Lewis was
America’s greatest explorer. To add to the pleasure of reading, Ambrose
writes history books that read like novels.
Lincoln, Abraham: The Prairie Years (two volumes), and The War Years
(four volumes) by Carl Sandburg:. This six volume Pulitzer Prize work is the
definitive biography of one of our greatest presidents and it is absolutely
the most comprehensive biography that I have ever read. If six volumes
with 3,309 pages is more than you want to tackle, the author did
subsequently write a single volume, 747 paged abridged version.
Patton, General George: Patton: The Man Behind the Legend. By
Martin Blumenson: No one attains General Patton’s level of legendary
leadership without conviction, courage and confidence. He had all three,
and was convinced that he was born for one reason, “I have always
thought that I was a military genius or at least that I … would be a great
general.” Those who admire him and those who despise him all
acknowledge that he was a great general. He is leadership personified.
Sanders, Colonel Harland: Finger Lickin’ Good by Harland Sanders:
This book is actually an autobiographic series of stories. It is written in
Sanders own words as he spoke them. The writing is not highly polished
but the story is worth reading, because it is an excellent illustration of the
life of a man with a goal who never gave up.
Truman, Harry: Truman by David McCullough: The story of Harry
Truman’s life is one of an unlikely man rising to the occasion to
successfully fill the greatest leadership challenge of the century. As time
passes, more people believe that Truman was the Lincoln of his age. I can
think of no one who could tell the story better or in a more interesting style
than David McCullough.
Wright, Frank Lloyd: Frank Lloyd Wright: America’s Greatest
Architect by Herbert Jacobs: Frank Lloyd Wright was an architectural
genius, unfailingly innovative, amazingly bold, but also notoriously eccentric
and unconventional. Even though not everyone agrees that Wright was
America’s greatest architect, he is, without a doubt, the best known of all
American architects. The architectural schools of America’s best
universities still have many students who aspire to be the next
Frank Lloyd Wright.
Complied by Jimmy Collins