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Must-Read's For Creative Builders: 10 Books That'll Change Your Life

I read an asininely large number of books. I probably open or start 300 to 500 books a year, finish 50, read substantial parts of 50 more, and listen to another 30 to 70 on audio. I tend to "fast read" books - which is where I skim until I hit a particularly good part, and then slow down for comprehension. When I read a book that's highly tactical, I try to go through it slowly over a couple months while implementing and testing the tactics.

The following isn't my list of favorite books, nor the best books written, nor even the most important to me. Instead, it's my picks of "must reads" if you're doing "creative building."

That's where you're simultaneously trying to invent/innovate while growing and diffusing your inventions and innovations. It's what entrepreneurs do, but not entrepreneurs only. The following list would be useful to someone trying to proliferate their writing, become prominent in fields ranging from music or journalism, and possibly even governance and politics.

There'll be a mix of philosophical, strategic, and tactical books on the list. Let's begin:

1. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa - If you're talented and get frustrated with stupid people, you have to read "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. I mean, you have to. Musashi was one of the greatest swordsmen in Japanese history, invented a new Japanese longblade/shortblade mixed style of swordsmanship, and at one point fought himself out of an ambush when he was attacked by over 30 men. He was undefeated in over 60 duels, including defeating arguably the second best swordsman in Japan at the time while fighting with a wooden oar he carved into a rough swordlike shape. Yoshikawa writes his story about getting into conflict with mainstream society and all of the friction before finally finding a way to hone his craft without unnecessary conflict - and thus reach an even higher level of perfection. A brilliant philosophical read, but also a hell of a swashbuckling story. If you only read one book on this list, read this one.

Realistic Baseline Expectations

One of the biggest challenges facing a person who wishes to improve in business or their personal life is naiveté.

It's hard to mentally conceptualize what success and failure look like. If you're going to do sales, for instance, it's hard to get your mind around how tremendously successful you can be even with very poor ratios of initial contact to closed sale.

Most people are overly optimistic in general about endeavors they jump into while untrained. But, perhaps much worse than that is believing in consistent improvement and gains.

The mind loves consistent improvement and gains, and hates random and erratic gains. This is one reason why video games can be so much more compelling than real-life mastery: real-life mastery has long plateaus -- even backslidings -- followed by breakout improvements that are unpredictable.

When you start training for success or initiating a business campaign, it's tempting to think the gains will be smooth and consistent. Not so. You'll probably have a great week at some point where you make tremendous insanely large gains, and you'll probably have a run of a few weeks in a row where nothing is clicking.

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