Merkle’s unofficial book club presents: 5 books to improve yourself - and your business - during Corona
“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” (Simon Sinek) Most people at Merkle (including me), started to work here because they felt inspired by their potential future colleagues during the recruitment process. I realized this once more when, very naturally, an unofficial Merkle book club started to form around a year ago. We would exchange books that we had read and loved, that made us wonder or grow or want to talk about with colleagues.
For most of us, the Corona crisis comes with some extra time: no more commuting to work, for some less or even no work at all; no big trips or activities are possible. On the other hand, there is plenty to worry about, when given time with oneself alone. Insecurities about your own health and that of loved ones, but also financial issues are faced by most of us.
I’d like to encourage you to worry less and read more. These 5 book recommendations will not only give you a way to fill your time, but also motivate and possibly inspire you! Their lessons are suited for both personal growth or for business improvement - independent of your role, status, or sector. To get you started, I will share my own experience from both personal and professional perspectives. Let’s go!
If you read the title thinking “I am not a morning person. So I guess this post is not for me.” - you couldn’t be more wrong. What if I told you that this book was more about taking back the steering wheel of your life, and determining the direction of where it was headed? “But, Julia, I don’t even know where my life is supposed to be heading!” Keep. Reading.
These days during the Corona Pandemic are coined by imperatives that dictate our daily lives, mostly connected to prohibitions. No social gatherings, no fun or cultural activities, for some, no walks in the park. Everything changed so quickly - it almost seems like yesterday that things were “normal”. Now imagine everything being normal, and suddenly you wake up from what you hear was a 6-day coma to a group of doctors who tell you that it is most unlikely for you to ever walk again. This is what happened to the author of this book, Hal Elrod. He had had a terrible car accident and was severely injured with several broken bones, as well as brain damage. Waking up to such a reality does not leave you with a whole lot of room for manoeuvre (excuse the pun), or so it would seem. Yet Hal managed the impossible: He started appreciating everything he still had, instead of wishing things were different. And while he accepted his new reality, he assumed full responsibility for creating all that he wanted in the future. Spoiler alert: not only did Hal walk again, but he ran an ultramarathon.
“But Julia, I thought this book was about mornings?!”. I’m getting there! Just wanted to let you know what kind of person wrote this book: a go-getter, a get-upper, a hustler, a life’s enthusiast and a “change lies in my own hands” kinda guy. If you don’t identify with any of these attributes, now might be the time for you to stop reading (but you could start somewhere else: I recommend Part V: Daring Greatly).
Without spoiling the book any further, it wasn’t until the author hit an even lower low in his life that he discovered what he now calls his miracle morning. It was born in a time when he literally needed to create a reason to wake up every day. Being the restless self-improver that he is, Hal researched what successful people did in order to reach their level of achievement. To his own dismay, he realized that most idols dedicated some time in their mornings to their personal growth. While sceptic himself at first, through experimenting he derived three imperative arguments that speak for early rising. The third stuck with me most: “Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days.” And if they do - it truly feels like a miracle.
I never thought of myself as a morning person either. My ex used to get up at 6 a.m. while I would remain in bed for another half hour at least, feeling that I was deserving of and needing that time. To be honest though, these extra minutes didn’t really give me that kind of energy that would really make me feel rested. Nowadays I often literally jump out of bed when the alarm bell rings, sometimes because I have been awake for a while, eager to start my day. Sounds like a fairytale? I know, but at its essence, it is a simple methodology: There are six essential exercises which a lot of successful people (successful in the sense of happy, balanced people!) integrate into their daily morning routines. Some of them might not be for you, some might already be part of your habits. I certainly took on a few new ones after reading the book. My mornings are now filled with activities that energize me, help me to focus, and give me a sense of achievement. Every morning, before I start to work and earn my avocados, I invest in myself a little. Every morning, I feel a little closer to developing my full potential. And that is a great feeling I am willing and happy to get up for every day!
Needless to say that, whenever you invest in developing your own potential, your business always benefits, whether you’re the CEO or whether you are an employee. At any rate, if the underlying theory is that whatever happens first thing in the day sets the course for the rest of it, what else can that mean for your business? I think of it this way: how you enter any business activity, but especially the morning activities, matter. The energy you bring with you early on will - to some extent - determine the outcome of any business venture you entertain.
“The Miracle Morning” will especially be helpful if you feel professionally stuck, or your business has reached a critical turning point. Complex problems require creative solutions, so you should ask yourself: if you’re stuck and you continue without changing anything, how likely are you to get out of your situation? Maybe the exercises described in this book will inspire you, just like they inspired Elrod. You don’t lose anything if you experiment and try out what kind of focused, productive mornings work for you.
In conclusion, this book will help you find a way to wake up with purpose. Something that might seem a little more challenging in current times. If you feel like you and/or your business need a miracle: read this book.