5 Books that Radically Influenced My Life

Guest Post by Brian Ahearn

I’m a reader. I love to read. Funny thing is, when I was young I hated reading. That was probably a function of having to read certain versus getting to read what I wanted to. Once my love of reading took over it was pretty much the case that I’d read a book a week. That pace has slowed down in recent years with the explosion of Ted Talks, podcasts and other media for getting good messages out, but I still read several a month.

Because I read so much people often ask me about my favorite books. What I’ll share with you are the five books that have radically influenced my life.

The Bible When I really began to take my Christian faith seriously I read through the entire Bible many times. In fact, I ended up writing my own commentary, a thousand-page Word document, where I put down thoughts about what I was reading and learning. My inspiration was to give the document to my daughter Abigail so she would know what dad thought about .

I equate all the years of reading to eating and living healthy. What I learned day-to-day became the foundation of my thinking, actions, and shaped my worldview. I believe any good thing within me is a result of my relationship with God.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I read Steven Covey’s best selling book in the early 1990s. The habit that struck me most was his admonition to “Begin with the End in Mind.” I took Covey’s advice and wrote a personal mission statement. In that document, I put down thoughts about how I wanted to be remembered when it came to my faith, family, personal well-being, and career.

The reason The Seven Habits was so influential was because I posted my mission statement and have read it, or parts of it, for more than 25 years. It’s been a guiding force in who I’ve become and who I’m still striving to become.

Influence Science and Practice I was introduced to Robert Cialdini’s work in 2002. His emphasis on how to ethically persuade people appealed to my moral side. The research based approach appealed to my analytical side. It was a match made in heaven!

It’s not uncommon for many people to spend nearly half of their waking hours trying to persuade others. My goal with Influence PEOPLE is to help them enjoy more professional success and personal happiness. If you read Influence Science and Practice and apply what you learn you’re guaranteed to have more success and happiness. I confidently write that because the science proves you’ll be able to move more people (your boss, coworkers, direct reports, loved ones) to action.

Man’s Search for Meaning I’ve written about Viktor Frankl’s book on a number of occasions. The following quote stands out above all else in this great work,

“everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms— to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

It sounds trite to say,

“It’s not about what happens to us, it’s about how we respond.”

However, when you read about Frankl’s account of the horrors he and others experienced, but how so many found meaning in their suffering – some in death – you begin to realise life is about how we choose to respond.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve  was written by Carmine Gallo. I took seven typed pages of notes on this book! As I read I would flip over to YouTube to watch Jobs present to solidify my learning.

The reason I added this book to my top five is because it had a tremendous impact on how I present. Presentation, be it in a workshop, keynote or when consulting, is primarily what I do with influence. Arguably, nobody did better than Steve Jobs so why not learn from the best?

To Do This Week: I highly encourage you to look into one of these five books. It’s my sincere hope that they have as much positive impact on your life as they’ve had on mine. If you can’t do that, how about sharing some of your book recommendations in the comments section. Thanks!

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at InfluencePEOPLE. His Lynda.com course, Persuasive Selling, will teach you how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process.

Originally Published on July 24, 2017

Featured in: Best AdviceCareers: The Next LevelWhat Inspires MeWriting and EditingYour Career


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  1. I have been reading the Bible all my life, but after reading Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire by Walsh and Keesmaat, I have never been the same. The life I had is now trashed. The life I have is all hope for the Age to Come and the work, the prophetic/imaginative work, at ushering it in.

  2. As I read your article, I was reminded of Jesus getting up early to spend time with the Father. The only reading material available to him–although not directly–was the torah, the sacred writings of Moses. What an incredible opportunity we have today with countless books to read, review and research in our journey to a close personal relationship with the godhead.

    • Important point. Most of the time we all rush off after a quick prayer to start our days. Jesus understood the value of spending time communing with his father and the important of worship in order to strengthen himself and fortify himself for the days trials ahead.

  3. The Bible of course and Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts and The Broken Way.
    Ann’s fluidity of words has truly been a blessing in my life, so much so that I recently published my own book Sondrenched by Sandie Heckman. I love to write about Jesus.

  4. What an awesome list, I’ll definitely be picking those up this week!

    One of the most influential books for me is The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis, it’s short but full of wisdom and a thought-provoking perspective.

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