There are countless books out there to read, but do you ever ask yourself, how is this particular subject helping me in my life? When I seek out books for self-improvement, I look for extraordinary people that have endured pain and hardship for their personal success, while maintaining a great deal of humility in the process. Reading fictional novels should be as decadent as the occasional confectionary, but NOT a daily remedy for the mind. The same way a blockbuster movie can immerse you into a world of illusion, a documentary film will stimulate your brain and give you a genuine perspective on reality and how it affects you.
The books I have gathered for you below are dominant examples of highly achieved people with unique philosophies in the world of physical exertion. If you are guilty of living a tame and comfortable life, you will benefit from these books just the same as if you had been challenged through constant adversity.
Kelly Starrett and his co-author Glen Cordoza do an excellent job in putting together a thorough examination of how to relieve pain and injury while still maintaining optimal athletic performance in Becoming a Supple Leopard. The book will provide you with detailed information and examples on how to properly utilize the human body in both your daily life and in training. You will find that something as simple as walking with your feet straight could be the solution to many structural faults. This is the type of book I wish I had read at least TWICE before my first gym experience; too bad it wasn’t available at the time. Overall, I highly recommend this book for any person living and breathing, because injuries will happen and how you alleviate them will determine your comeback.
This was a book written in Japanese in 1643 by a master duelist and undefeated samurai named Miyamoto Musashi. The translation by Thomas Clearly gives readers a comprehensible study on Musashi’s teachings in martial arts and his Eastern philosophy. The value and insight the book offers come from Musashi’s perception and meticulous technique in battle, which many have found to be transferrable to business and leadership strategies. This book holds authority both on the battlefield and in the boardroom… who says they don’t relate?
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” ― Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
I initially had a pre-determined idea of what went into special operations training of the Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land Teams), but I was not prepared for the in-depth analysis that Howard E. Wasdin portrayed in his book. The physiological toll that Wasdin endured both inside and outside of the military will shock your mind of what a human being is capable of. Wasdin not only went through the rigorous Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S), which is known to be the most physically and mentally demanding military training in history, but he then followed the Green Course, which is a selection program for the SEAL Team Six counterterrorism unit, and eventually arrived at sniper school to become the most supreme sniper that ever lived. This book was a constant page-turner for me, and rather inspiring to say the least, but be prepared for a heavy read, as it is not for the faint of heart.
Unlike Becoming a Supple Leopard, this is a book that I am glad I read thoroughly before getting serious about weight training. The author Dave Draper is an old school bodybuilder who was at the pinnacle of his game in the 50s and 60s, training with some of the greats such as Frank Zane and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The book he has written is a philosophical guideline to bodybuilding from A to Z; it captures and teaches you everything necessary to thrive in the sport. Dave’s writing is direct, easy to grasp and humorous at times, all of which make the book an enjoyable lesson. If you are serious about bodybuilding, then this is a solid reference to harness. I personally set the foundation of my body composition through his advanced routine called “Draper All-Time Favorite”. You can find the whole workout on his website here.
These four books are written by first-class leaders and innovators at the height of their profession, so if you want to master your physical training capabilities, start reading from the minds that have already achieved greatness and learn from them. These books are not only blueprints for what the human body can endure, but more importantly HOW to endure and the best ways possible to manage it.
A quote from one of the most successful billionaire investors in world describes this simply:
“It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.” ― Warren Buffett
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite books are for self-improvement and how they will help people maximize their potential.