“It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”

Apache proverb

This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.

Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people who ever lived, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought, and unprecedented motivation when we need it most.

In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

Lately, I’ve also really been enjoying audiobooks. With the speed toggle, you can listen at an increasing speed. When you first try 1.25x, it seems a little intense. But a day or two later, you'll probably feel comfortable at 1.5x and wonder how you listened to anything slower before. Audiobooks are also more social because, rather than simply listening to music (which I love for entertainment or a demanding workout), you and a travel companion can improve your minds while exploring new areas of interest.

For my favorite books, as you'll see in the YouTube edition of this post, I make sure to also purchase a hard copy because it's easier for a quick reference.

Welcome to my second annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. With this list, you'll undoubtedly have more lightning in the hand, as the earlier proverb reminds us.

Best for Entrepreneurs:

Driven
by Dr Doug Brackmann

I first met Dr Doug Brackmann in Orange County, California, in early 2019 when my good mate Ronsley Vaz interviewed him. Brackmann radiated a potent mix of strength and empathy, traits forged from a career working with some of the most driven people on the planet.

This is the best book I’ve read in 2019 and I’ve literally just purchased a copy for every one of my clients around the world.

In it, Brackmann argues that 10% of the population possess a certain DNA that makes them feel like something is wrong with them, leading to anxiety, shame, and negative self-talk that can create a hellish existence. He calls this group the ‘Driven.’

Yet, through his research (which includes holding two PhDs in psychology!) and work with some of the highest performers on the planet—everyone from Navy SEALs to pro athletes and business leaders—Brackmann has discovered how the Driven can harness that energy into constructive means to reach their highest potential.

If you are an entrepreneur, or are looking at buying a gift for an entrepreneur, you won’t go wrong with this book. I’ve never read something that struck at the heart of who I was more than this one, while at the same time giving practical tips to improve day by day.

And let's face it: every existing and aspiring entrepreneur could do with a little more help understanding themselves!


Best for Mindset:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Dr Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is one of my biggest inspirations. This book talks about what sets champions apart in any field—the growth mindset.

Dweck contrasts those who have a growth mindset with those who have a fixed mindset, and it typically comes down to one simple focus: how we respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes.

Those with a growth mindset embrace challenge and recognize mastery as a journey of self-effort, whereas those with a fixed mindset avoid challenge and give up easily.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Mindset:

In her bestselling book, Dweck shows how people of all ages can cultivate a growth mindset, while giving examples of well-known people to keep readers engaged and illustrate the points, offering practical solutions to help us fulfill our potential in the most important areas of our lives.


Best for Empowerment:

Educated
by Tara Westover

Written with phenomenal detail, Westover’s memoir describes her unique upbringing by uncompromising survivalists in the mountains of Idaho.

Working in her father’s junkyard, Westover was never allowed to go to school or visit a doctor, and recounts her volatile—and, at times, abusive—family life as the youngest of seven children.

This alone makes for gripping reading, but the trajectory from Westover first stepping into a classroom at age 17 to eventually earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, while continuing to fight battles in and out of the classroom, leaves you spellbound.

In particular, if you’re a female struggling to find your place (or voice) in the world—or you know someone in that situation—this book is a must read. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and has now been translated into more than 30 languages.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

Seriously powerful stuff, and an easy listen on Audible too. Plus, if you're an aspiring writer, it's one of the most beautifully written books you'll ever read.


Best for Gratitude:

The 5 Minute Journal
by Intelligent Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as daily stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset.

You hear me talk constantly about winning the day. The best way to win the day is to know what actions you’re going to take on a given day and how they relate to your long-term mission, and this book gives you a forum to be able to do that.

To me, it’s been truly life-changing and is the book I gift the most. If you want an introduction to gratitude, this is the best place to be. A lot of people ask me what book it is that I keep posting on Instagram, and now you know 🙂


Best for Parenting:

Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
by George Horace Lorimer

This is the only book on this list that has entered the public domain, which means it can be downloaded for free. As a result, it’s probably a better gift for yourself, rather than sending someone a link!

This book was originally published in 1901 and contains letters from a successful business owner to his son who had just started university.

If Educated is slightly better suited to a female audience, this one is slightly better suited to a male audience. Yet, both hold enduring value for all readers.

Given Letters was written more than a century ago, it is told in a language of a foregone era, but it’s phenomenal quotes are timeless, such as:

This is the book that inspired me to start writing an annual letter to our daughter, the first one written in December 2018 (i.e. five months before she was born), so at whatever age I choose to reveal them to her she can understand the journey we’ve all been on together, especially her mother's unparalleled contributions, and exactly what unconditional love means.


Best for Motivation:

Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy
by James Whittaker

Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world.

The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.

Email us if you're after a signed copy! If you want your signed copy to arrive before Christmas, please allow at least two weeks' notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Unsigned copies, as well as audiobook and ebook formats, are available on Amazon.


Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A letter or card, handwritten if your legibility allows, to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten your world and illuminate your spirit. Expressing our gratitude to one another in the long form written medium has become a lost art, but that just means your opportunity to make an impression will be even more powerful.

You've heard me say many times before that the best way to get is to give. Give someone a piece of your heart, and watch the way your life changes as a result.

__

I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.

As we approach the end of 2019, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and get excited for an incredible 2020.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
How to Get a Promotion: Lessons from a Chief Maker

“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Thomas Edison

There’s one element that all those who have achieved enormous success hold in high esteem: failure. Whether industry titans of old, such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford, or more contemporary worldbeaters, such as Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos, failure has been the catalyst to not only creating extraordinary wealth but maintaining it too.

The headline quote from Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors in history, was written by a man who, from the moment he set his mind to a definite chief aim, was obsessed with the goal until it became a reality.

Incredulously, before unveiling the world’s first lightbulb for practical use, Edison went through more than 3,000 designs for light bulbs and another 6,000 tests trying to find the right material for the filament. He would go on to hold more than 1,000 patents, and his other inventions—such as the motion picture camera and phonograph—transformed almost every industry on Earth. “When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go about it, and make trial after trial, until it comes,” the American once said.

While Edison’s obsession might seem crazy to outsiders, it was a perfectly rational state of mind to the man himself. Think about today’s true innovators and changemakers, from Sara Blakely to Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs: all have been described by adjectives far harsher than “crazy”.  

Edison’s close friend, Waltor Mallory, once visited the inventor in his workshop. Having personally observed some of the countless hours of dedication, effort and sacrifice, Mallory lamented the lack of results. With a smile, Edison quickly replied, “Results? I have gotten lots of results! I now know several thousand things that won’t work.”

That simple response sums up Thomas Edison’s growth mindset and reveals how he became such a prolific achiever, despite not having a formal education.

Those with a growth mindset:

In contrast, those with a fixed mindset:

To win in the long-term, you must open yourself up to the prospect of losing in the short-term, or longer. Simply continuing is one of the surest paths to success, but so many people give up because they accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. This is true in ALL areas of life; in fact, you can probably think of at least one person who remains bitter despite a divorce or business hardship that occurred years prior.

If you allow yourself to be defined by how you’ve been wronged or some other misfortune, you’ll go through life with a chip on your shoulder and likely stay within an ever-shrinking comfort zone. However, those who keep their sights on long-term victory—and can quickly dust themselves off when they do fail—are the ones who enjoy far greater happiness and success.

Embrace failure because it means you’ve tried.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos understands this better than most. “I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally,” he was quoted. Further reinforcing his counterintuitive love for hardship, Bezos wrote to his shareholders, “I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!)” But he is acutely aware that every failure increases his chance of hitting a home run, as Amazon has done with numerous innovations that catapulted the company from a simple online bookstore to, on 7 January 2019, officially becoming the world’s most valuable company

Even with the recent breakdown of their 25-year marriage, Bezos and his partner MacKenzie were able to quickly and amicably move on, wishing each other well, reducing any undue pressure on their four children, and calming nervous Amazon shareholders.

True innovators like Edison, Bezos, Winfrey, Jobs and Musk do not view the word ‘failure’ as a negative. Rather, they view it as an omnipresent companion on the journey to achievement—a stepping stone to success. Every failure brings us closer to success, just as surrendering to adversity guarantees defeat. 

In fact, the quote for today’s episode in its entirety is: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Choose to be a victor rather than a victim. Regardless of what life throws your way, promise to try just one more time

Onwards and upwards always, 
James W.

In case you missed it:
‘The Secret to Happiness’

60 quotes to overcome failure:

“The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

“If people should take anything from my music, it should be motivation to know that anything is possible as long as you keep working at it and don’t back down.” – Eminem

“All people have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward—sometimes to death, but always to victory.” – Dale Carnegie

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” –  Napoleon Hill

“The only easy day was yesterday.” – US Navy SEALs

 “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” –  J.K. Rowling

“Fall down seven times. Stand up eight.” – Proverb

“Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.” – Steve Jobs

“Failure is success in progress.” – Albert Einstein

“Never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat.” – James Whittaker 

“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” – Jonathan Winters

“Find a way or make a way.” – Elon Musk 

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

“At any moment you can make a decision to change your life.” – Janine Shepherd

“Failure is a stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey

“If I had listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger 

“Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” – Susan Jeffers

“You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” – Lebron James

“Fear is the result of a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence is the result of not knowing what you can do. A lack of knowing what you can do is caused by a lack of experience. A lack of experience is caused by a lack of doing something new.” – Dale Carnegie 

“Most great people have achieved their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill 

“The freedom to fail is vital if you’re going to succeed. Most successful people fail time and time again, and it is a measure of their strength that failure merely propels them into some new attempt at success.” – Michael Korda

 “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford 

“Even if we crash and burn, and lose everything, the experience will have been worth ten times the cost.” – Steve Jobs 

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden 

“Sometimes an expensive lesson is worth every penny.” – Noel Whittaker

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

“Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it. That is the quickest and surest way to conquer fear.” – Dale Carnegie

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

“You can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to leave the shore.” – Anonymous

“Thinking will not overcome your fear, but action will.” – W. Clement Stone

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” – Dale Carnegie 

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs­

“All is possible for the believers.” – Laird Hamilton

 “Action breeds confidence and courage.” – Dale Carnegie

“I’ve made billions of failures at Amazon. Literally.” – Jeff Bezos

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” – Elon Musk

“Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past.” – Tyron Edwards

 “You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.” – Dale Carnegie

 “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – Babe Ruth 

“Bravery is the solution to regret.” – Robin Sharma 

“Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.” – Robert Greene 

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr (Serenity Prayer)

“Know your enemy, and know yourself, and you’ll never be in peril.” – Sun Tzu

“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” – Neale Donald Walsch 

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

 “I believe we [Amazon] are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!).” – Jeff Bezos

“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” – Steve Maraboli

“Try and enjoy yourself. Because, actually, life’s pretty good.” – Elon Musk

 “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

“You can’t have courage without fear.” – Jocko Willink

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When faced with misfortune, most people are quick to lash out at others. Yet, high achievers know that it’s not laying blame that leads to success—it’s proudly taking ownership of every aspect of your life.

These 10 questions will empower you to rise in almost any situation, allowing you to reset your energy, prepare actionable plans, and advance with stronger resilience than ever before.

1. What’s the gift in this? 

Understanding this has been one of the most profound turning points in my life. Incredible stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall prove that there’s a gift in every adversity … you just have to find it. While a challenging skill to master in the moment, dig deep and you’ll find a little comfort in even the most difficult hardship. Mastery of resilience is the foundation of the growth mindset and what keeps high performers focused when others give up.

2. What am I grateful for?

Numerous studies, including this one from UC Berkeley, have shown that people who use a regular gratitude practice are happier. When you’re focused on positive energy, it shifts your focus from resentment and envy to abundance, improving everything from personal relationships to career success. If you’re new to gratitude, grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal—it’s what I use personally and is truly lifechanging. Also, schedule a weekly calendar reminder to send good vibes—whether a message, phone call or email—to someone whose efforts and support you appreciate. 

3. What do I truly want?

If you’re working a job you hate, or spending too much time helping someone else achieve their goals, perhaps it’s time you restored balance into the equation and thought about what you wanted. Readers of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy might recall the greatest turning point in Sandy Gallagher’s career was when she realized her entire life had been about making someone else—her father—happy. As she transitioned toward forging her own path, Sandy found that she was not only happier and more fulfilled in her new career, she was able to positively impact far more people, too.

4. Why am I doing this?

As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When you’re clear on why you do what you do, whether an individual or a company, it allows you to persist through adversity, attract a tribe of people excited in your mission, and remain constantly alert for resources that will help you on your journey—the ultimate pathway to finding your how. 

5. What am I willing to sacrifice each day? 

In a world of instant gratification, buck the trend of demanding it now and, instead, proudly put in the work. This is a fundamental step emphasized repeatedly in Think and Grow Rich and the process of autosuggestion. With your most important goals, write down the specific actions you’ll take—the price you’re willing to pay—to make them a reality. You’ll find that the level of success you achieve is in direct proportion to the consistent effort you take. 

6. What three biggest distractors can I eliminate? 

Audit your time each day for one week so you can easily pinpoint where you’re knocked off course. (Even simple things such as deleting time-wasting apps, switching your phone to airplane mode for regular blocks, and removing clutter, can all make a massive difference to your daily productivity.) Next, look around your living and working environments. If they don’t motivate you to go the extra mile each day, make some changes. In my office, I have a huge print that says “ACTION: The difference between having and wanting” reminding me of the importance of sustained effort. Surround yourself with inspiration. 

7. Who am I spending the most time with? 

Your energy source is the most important part of your life and should be insulated from sabotage at all costs. Surround yourself with people who think positive, dream big, and align with your values—those demonstrated in the top-right corner of the Friendship-Success Quadrant (below). You’ll find your energy levels increase tenfold as a result. This is the power of the mastermind and the one attribute that has made the most significant difference in my own life. Once you’ve found the right people, use this to turbocharge your success.

8. What mental health practices have I got scheduled?

Paradoxically, we often reserve our love and kindness for others, and then engage in negative self-talk when we’re alone—it’s certainly a weakness of mine. Rob Dyrdek introduced me to Dr George Pratt, the clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist who Rob credits as changing his life. George helped me to be more aware of negative self-talk and gave me some exercises that I now have scheduled in my calendar every week to keep focused, relaxed and happy. Here’s a short one you can try. Don’t just make time for your mental health, schedule it. 

9. What would it look like if it were easy? 

As part of human nature, and only enhanced in the digital age, we often massively overthink and overcomplicate situations. Sometimes, taking a step back and giving ourselves a mental reset to ponder “What would this look like if it were easy?” can be the quickest way to an acceptable solution, saving valuable time and energy in the process. 

10. In December 2019, reflecting on the year just gone, what 3-5 things happened that made me the happiest?

The end of the calendar year is a good reference point for how your life is progressing. If you’re unable to answer this question quickly, fill out the Success Plan (template). Feel the emotions of having already attained those 3-5 things, then make sure you’ve got a detailed plan—with regular action items scheduled—built into your weekly calendar so imagination becomes reality. High performers all have systems to optimize their success.

Through a calm demeanor and an inquisitive mind, the best way forward is always revealed. Remember, you are the only problem you will ever have and YOU are the only solution.

Take actions today that your future self will thank you for. After all, the right question could save your life.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The One Number that Doesn’t Matter’

PS – Join my VIP newsletter AND get a free bonus from Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy (instant download).

The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.”

Steve Maraboli

I’ve just returned to Los Angeles after a three-week book tour of Australia. For those who missed the Today Show interview, you can check it out below. A big thank you to all of you for your continued support.

The winner’s mindset

Today, let’s talk about the winner’s mindset. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, champions in any field are forged in their response to failure.

We all face adversity—every one of us. Those with a fixed mindset use it as an excuse to give up and crawl further into their ever-shrinking shell. Yet, those with a growth mindset use every failure as a stepping stone to greatness.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are where we are because of our decisions to this point. By simply accepting personal responsibility and taking ownership of our lives, we significantly increase our power to change. This can apply to anything, whether it’s underperforming on a university course, being passed over for a promotion at work or failing with a fitness goal.

The fixed mindset comes from stagnation. In contrast, the growth mindset comes from having an end goal in mind and then nurturing our abilities through ongoing care and attention—avid readers of my newsletter might recognize this as “simple and consistent action.”

In her groundbreaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck showed that from a young age the brain can be trained to grow and improve, like a muscle. Once our limiting beliefs are gradually replaced with the growth mindset, we find it easier to take actions that keep us striving for ever-greater success. This builds bulletproof confidence and creates unparalleled resilience.

Growth mindset in action

In 1964, after campaigning for racial equality, a South African man was given a life sentence and thrown in prison to rot. Rather than giving up, he began studying Afrikaans with the hope of building mutual respect with his captors and converting them to his cause.

Twenty-seven years later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. After his impassioned pleas for equality caught hearts and minds around the world, he was elected President of South Africa—the first non-white head of state in the country’s history. Reflecting on his extraordinary life, he famously said: “I never lose. I win or I learn.”

In 2010, an unknown fighter taps the canvas. Conceding defeat, his opponent releases the devastating chokehold. With the embarrassing loss, a mere 38 seconds into the first round, the aspiring fighter’s record now stood at a paltry four wins and two losses. Rather than let another setback define him, he continued to hone his skills. An eight-fight win streak caught the eye of Dana White and the Irishman was signed to the UFC.

Five years after the humiliating loss, he defeated José Aldo, one of the greatest fighters of all time, in 13 seconds—the fastest finish in UFC title fight history. The following year, his coach John Kavanagh released a book documenting the extraordinary journey with his star pupil entitled “Win or Learn”, echoing Mandela’s fortitude. Today, Conor McGregor is one of the highest paid athletes on the planet.

Oprah Winfrey was deemed “unfit for television.” Steve Jobs was removed from the company he founded. J.K. Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. The list goes on.

How do we create a growth mindset?

True champions have a growth mindset and never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. Instead, they prepare a vivid, detailed plan for success and get to work on winning the day. To create a growth mindset:

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

PS – Here is a free download of the bonus chapter from Think & Grow Rich: The Legacy, showing how simple mindset shifts catapulted ordinary people to extraordinary achievement.

Ready to win the day, every day? 

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