“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.

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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

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

We ALL have bad days … every single one of us. There are many reasons why we might feel forlorn—whether it’s financial hardship, relationship stress, injury/illness or any number of other possibilities.

Symptoms of a slump include being irritable, tired or exhausted, low on confidence, feeling frustrated or angry at our situation, and being negative or indifferent to our future. But make no mistake, the response to adversity is what separates extraordinary achievers from the herd.

While there’s no magic pill or quick fix, you have MUCH more power over your future than you think. Here are 14 proven tips to help you level out the bad days and put the spring back in your step.

1. Recognize you’re not alone.

We’re all fighting our own battles and trying to do the best we can based on our life experiences. Often, we shield our greatest vulnerabilities from those closest to us. Rather than sitting a home alone where you can get caught in your own head, reach out to others. As Janine Shepherd says, recognizing we’re not alone removes the isolation and empowers us to take action.

2. Start a daily gratitude practice.

Get into the habit of daily gratitude. Not only does it allow your mind to reset, it helps you identify the multitude of gifts already in your possession and what you need to do in the present. In the last newsletter, you read about how Nelson Mandela was able to do this while being in a South African prison for 27 years. Unsure of where to start? Grab a copy of The 5 Minute Journal.

3. Watch what you’re eating.

Harvard Medical School recently pointed out that “a healthy diet was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.” To get the most out of your body, give it the right fuel:

4. Change your environment.

Numerous studies (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) have proven the benefits that getting outdoors and wandering through nature can have on everything from stress and inflammation, to self-esteem and energy levels … even life expectancy. Find a nearby park or forest, do a yoga session, play a team sport or enjoy some outdoor exercise that enables you to connect with nature, be present in the moment, and recharge.

5. Divide and conquer.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with everything on your plate, especially those with young children. Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink recommends coming up with a plan of attack: deconstruct your tasks, sort them by priority, ask for help where you can, and take purposeful action until you’re back on track

6. Volunteer to help those less fortunate.

Helping those less fortunate is one of the most gratifying things we can do: it enables us to share a warm embrace with those we’ve been able to help, while also giving us perspective on the good in our own lives. Whether it’s helping children at a local special needs school, feeding the homeless, teaching military veterans to surf, or providing companionship at an aged care facility or hospice, there are countless ways to give back.

If you’re not in the right mindset for volunteer work, focus on less confronting options, such as giving a cheery “hello” to someone on your walk, picking up litter on the beach or engaging in friendly banter with a shop assistant.

7. Turn notifications off.

Better yet, put your phone on airplane mode or switch it off for a few hours each day. Free of distraction, you’re able to focus on the present.

8. Everyone has their own truth.

You might recall the quote: “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” If you’re dealing with some type of conflict, try and see it from the other person’s perspective—after all, everyone has their own truth. This enables you to keep calm and respond, rather than impulsively react where the situation often ends up much worse.

9. Starve negative situations of oxygen.

Hang out with those who you have a common future with, not a common past. If someone in your life does not reciprocate with positive energy, allocate more time to those who align with your vision and values. Your energy focus is the most important weapon in your arsenal—protect it at all costs.

10. Increase your intake of positive material.

I’m constantly amazed at how much people allow the news to dictate their mood. Rather than let the sensationalist news cycle wear you down, focus on replacing it with inspiring books/audiobooks (e.g. The Obstacle is the Way), uplifting positive music, and informative podcasts like Win the Day with James Whittaker (also available on YouTube).

11. Plot your future.

Often, bad days can stem from a disconnect between where we are now and where think we should be. Get on the front foot and define what success looks like in all areas of your life (download the FREE Success Plan Template). It should be exhilarating to undertake that exercise—it’s literally a wishlist for the universe! You can then focus on recalibrating your routine to make sure you prioritize the most important tasks.

12. Give the best you’ve got on that day.

An essential part of long term success is to focus on giving the best you’ve got on that day. That advice came from Alethea Boon who, in an elite sporting career spanning two decades, has had her fair share of ups and downs. Putting additional pressure on yourself to notch a productivity record each day only increases your chance of burnout, injury or illness.

13. Train yourself to embrace the struggle.

Those who have read Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy will recall the stories of Janine Shepherd and Jim Stovall who overcome enormous adversity on their remarkable journeys. You are much stronger than you know. Make the decision to embrace the struggle and show the world just how great you are.

14. Ask for help.

Be honest and upfront about how you’re feeling, especially if your bad days have lasted for a while. Courage is asking for help and letting others in, not suffering in silence.

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Wishing you a week of action, adventure and laughter!

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

PS – Learn more about how you can use adversity as a stepping stone to greatness.

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