Updated: Jul 24
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." - Isaac Newton in 1675
Truer words have never been spoken. If you had parents like mine, your childhood was mostly spent doing three things; studying, tests, and more studying. I will never forget one vacation where we went to visit my grandmother. I was probably around 8 years old, and my brother who was with me at that time was probably 7. Every Christmas, we always looked forward to visiting our grandma because the whole family was going to be there. We often got gifts from our aunts and uncles and spent a lot of time playing with our cousins. Since it was usually me and my brother, we would wake up every day and dash out to the living room eager to play with our cousins.
However, that year was different. Our mum had taken the liberty of bringing along several textbooks relating to Math, English, and Science with her on this trip. For the entire vacation, except for Sundays and Christmas, we were not allowed to leave until we finished the set of problems assigned to us for that day.
I remember it being really difficult. Some of the assignments took us until past noon! Our mother would stay with us and clarify any questions we had without telling us the answers. At the time, I thought that was the worst vacation ever. What I realized later that little me did not see at the time was that our mother was teaching us how to learn effectively.
The most important thing that is passed down from one generation to another that is even more important than wealth, is knowledge. The secrets that are transferred down are not simply how to study and solve problems, but a culmination of what your parents, their parents, and those who came before them learned during their time on earth. This knowledge will also be passed down to your children, should you choose to have any, to give them an advantage in life.
Some say the rich are only rich because they inherited their wealth, or poverty is genetic. These statements are inaccurate. There are many stories of individuals who fell from grace and lost all their wealth. Even lottery winners tend to end up back at their previous level of wealth a few years after winning. It is not money itself that makes a person wealthy, but rather it is the knowledge on how to use that money effectively that makes one wealthy. Just getting "money" is like being gifted the fastest car in the world, when you never learned how to drive.
So, how do we get our license?
There is a famous saying I really like that goes something like; “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”. We all know what this means, so why is this difficult to practice? There are social policies that believe it is more "compassionate" to give rather than teach. There are education policies that strictly narrow our education into majors. Even when you try to learn on your own, society sees this as uncool or nerdy.
Society, businesses, and universities have no use for thinkers, they want workers. Someone who can do what their told without question. In my best DJ Khaled impression,*cough* “THEY DON’T WANT US TO BE SUCCESSFUL!”.
If you want to be successful, as Isaac Newton says, you need to stand on the shoulders of the Giants that came before you. We need to educate ourselves. The quality of the education we get at schools and universities has fallen over time, and we know that. It is up to you and me to forge our unique paths to success.
There are so many educational options available to us today, from physical books to online courses, but if I had to choose the best way to learn it would be by reading books. Almost all successful men attribute a majority of their success to their vast collection of books, and being an avid reader myself, I can see their point.
What makes reading books so different from the other modes of learning? In the past, I would have suggested online modes of learning like lectures and courses because of their convenience, but I then discovered an element that made books significantly superior.
Most other forms of learning are problem-based. They are designed to teach us how to solve a specific problem or problems. This is usually what we look for; How-tos, tips & tricks, methods, and techniques. I believe this is a result of our formal education which is more focused on arriving at the correct answer. Some books also take this approach, but these are basically glorified textbooks.
What makes reading books different is not only do they teach us how to solve a problem, they give us insights into the mindset of the author;
- Why is this a problem?
- Why should we solve it?
- How do we approach it?
- How does this problem impact larger issues?
- What are the possible solutions?
- Why do we consider these solutions appropriate?
- How are these solutions applicable to other issues?
- What do we think about these solutions regarding our society?
As the author goes through questions like these, they give their own personal impression and approach to the problem by sharing multiple stories of their own experiences with that issue and with other related issues. They show us how they think; the method to their madness.
Imagine if the mind of someone successful that you admire was placed in your body to make your future decisions for you, how different would your life be? Would you want the knowledge to build cars like Elon Musk, or the ability to think like Elon Musk?
Books give you an insight into how the author sees the world. If you want to see the world from the shoulders of Giants, read the books written by these Giants. That is the fastest way to succeed.
Personally, I like physical books. I really like hardcovers; they are so durable and look really nice! There are times that the hardcovers are too expensive or just not available, then I go digital.
RedShelf would be my recommendation if you want a large variety of books written by distinguished authors such as Dale Carnegie, Carmine Gallo, Jonathan Haidt, and so many others. This is especially useful if you are a student, or trying to expand your skill repertoire. They have textbooks on basically every topic. I am not kidding; you can even learn how to talk to animals if you wanted to. The textbooks only cost a fraction of the $500 bricks schools make us lug around. Check out RedShelf for digitized knowledge and secrets.
If you do not like reading, audio books are also an option. I really enjoy reading books, I only listen to audio books when I am busy or at the gym. I know some of you live really busy lives that is why I am recommending AudiobooksNow. If you believe that you are an expert at multitasking, I challenge you to give audio books a try. They also have quite a large selection. The only downside I have found with audio books is highlighting important concepts, but that is just me. That is one of the many features in RedShelf I really appreciate. For you guys whose eyes are too good for reading, check out AudiobooksNow. I do have to disclose that our members with Full Access get discounts and seasonal deals, so if you do not have full access, click below and join the club!
Knowledge is what creates success. People who become successful are given the knowledge to be successful by their parents or mentors. If you were not fortunate enough to be born to ridiculously wealthy and influential parents, books are one of the ways to level the playing field. If you cannot get a mentor, reading their books is the next best thing. A major motivator for me is that we will be able to mentor the next generation and become the Giants the can stand on. Their success will be part of our legacy. Stay awesome, men!