Thursday, November 09, 2006

Personal development

Isn't it amazing how a book can affect a person very differently depending on where he is in his own personal development? A person just starting out can read a book and think that it's total hogwash and crap, while somone several years into their career can read the same book and think it's a godsend. On the other hand, there are some books that are absolutely awesome, if they are the first one that you've read, but they aren't very good if you have read similar types of books.

Pretty much no matter what the first agile book I read was going to be awesome. It was introducing me into new ways of doing things that I was desperately ready for. But if I had been reading about agile in blogs and magazine articles for the previous year, then the first book would have just felt like a rehash of the ideas.

I notice this a lot when I read books. I'm always conscious of the fact that if I hadn't already read 10 other books on this topic, that this one would be really good. It's written well, I enjoy it, and the information is good. But I got part of it from book 1 and part of it from book 2 and most of the rest of it from book 3, but this one chapter was really interesting.

The other day I was discussing "The pragmatic programmer" with a friend and he was talking about how it completely changed his life, and I was a tad shocked. I'm reading it right now and there's only been one thing in it so far that I don't think I'm already doing. Then he told me, "Well, it was one of the first books of that kind that I read when I was just getting started programming". That made sense. A lot of books are that way. The book itself is timeless, but the timliness of it to the reader is very important. Jonas used to love for me to read him "Goodnight Moon", Then for a long time Ady wanted it everynight too. Now, neither of them want it, and I could probably recite it from memory, but before long, Jaden will love hearing goodnight moon. You get the point.

Here are a few books that I have read that I think are excellent, and really affected me, but it may have just been the timliness of reading them.
"Atlas Shrugged" - this is probably still by far my most favorite book. I've read the monstrous text 3 times. My favorite is probably still the 70 page chapter that John Galt takes over the radio. If you have read it, you know what I'm talking about.

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" Dale Carnegie wrote a masterpiece. I've read this twice in the past year, and I'm looking to try and go to some of his training on this topic. I've almost completely changed my attitude on several key areas in my life and they have not only made me more positive and happy, the changes have caused me less problems with others.

"Raving fans" This book made me want to do more customer service. For a time I seriously considered getting into some kind of sales role to be able to get the satisfaction that this book made me feel.

"Driving Growth through Innovation". This book is about idea generation and corporate creativity. Both of these topics are still very dear to me. A lot of the things that I do are done with creativity and idea generation in mind. I was so inspired when I read this book that I proposed an idea generation plan at my company and even volunteered to work on off hours to completely manage it. Yes I was probably crazy and wouldn't go that far anymore, but the desire to benefit from the awesome intelligence and creativity of all of the employees at a company still makes me giddy.

"Weaving the Web" a historical book about the origins of the internet by it's creator, Tim-Berner's Lee. I got a new perspective on what the internet could be and became a huge fan of blogs and wiki's which are Mr. Lee's original view of the internet.

"Keys to Success" by Napolean Hill. Dale Carnegie is the master of getting along with others, Napolean Hill is the master of self mastery. This book elevated my already strong dedication to continued learning.

"Getting things done". Ok, this one is a tentative entry. I'm only half through the book. I love it. I already feel better about my own organization and my stress level on a ton of things has drastically changed. On the flip side, I'm just starting to incorporate the process into my life and I don't know if it will stick long term. But I think that it will, mostly because I want it to and will dedicate myself to following through on it.

I could rant for days and days about the books that I've read that I hate, but I'll leave it with the ones that are most important to me.

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