A 26-year-old is a young man. In 1980 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the average age for a man to get married for the first time was 26. US Wings says the average age for a man who fought in World War II was 26.
What happens for the average 26-year-old in 2017 has changed since years past. For me, it means I’m in the second job of my career, eight years removed from high school, and two years away from my 10-year high school anniversary.
I don’t know much. But I do know that the maturity gap between a 19-year-old and a 22-year-old, and between a 22-year-old and a 26-year-old is significant. I’m a firm believer that the 20’s are the decade that set people up for how they will live much of their lives. The habits built now will spill over, and mistakes or wrong turns might not show their repercussions for decades.
I’ve done my best to keep learning since graduating college. The aim is to make sense of my mind, pursuits, intentions, and the world around me.
The following is a collection of lessons, quotes, and reading materials that aided me to this point. I hope some of these are as useful to you as they were (and still are) to me.
1. If People Are Defensive About Your Opinions, You Might Be Right
We grow and change as we age. It’s inevitable. Better yet, if we don’t, we’re dying. Military strategist and arguably the greatest Air Force fighter pilot to ever live, John Boyd, said, “Whoever can handle the quickest rate of change is the one who survives.” That’s as true to life as it is to business, warfare and any other domain you operate in.
Sometimes we’re forced to get rid of bad habits. I quit drinking. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t important to most people. They’ll respect any decision you make. But when you start changing things that other people found central to your identity, you’ll meet resistance.
If people don’t like your ideas, consider that it might mean you’re right.
2. Have A Faith System Or Philosophy To Make Decisions
Life is difficult. Some religions and schools of thought say it’s suffering. Everyone you love will likely get sick and inevitably die. It’s a harsh truth.
What sense is there to make against that cruel reality while maintaining a job, family, relationships, and responsibilities? How do you reconcile these difficulties?
Philosophy, religion, and faith are practical tools to make sense of the world. Many philosophies aren’t abstract, they’re actually practical. Stoicism, for instance, has been used for cognitive behavioral therapy for those that are suffering from anxiety and depression. Soren Kierkegaard also wrote extensively about curing anxiety through his lens of existential philosophy. And at times, studying philosophy is just plain fun.
Whether it’s philosophy or faith, there’s got to be an anchor that works as the foundation that you use to get through life. We all need tools that provide us faith and aid us with how we make decisions; because when decisions with moral implications happen, and they will, what will be the framework with which we make the call?
3. Don’t Worry About What People Think
“We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own” — Marcus Aurelius
Who cares what they think? They don’t pay your bills. They don’t live your routine. They don’t live with the outcomes and consequences of your decisions.
Don’t be your own worst companion by trying to put on a show for the outside world. People may momentarily have an opinion about you they don’t like, but generally, they aren’t thinking of you.
4. Life Is Hard Work, Discover This Sooner Than Later
Your success is directly proportional to how hard you’re willing to work. That includes your career, relationships, health, and every life task.
Part of the difficulty of life is that you have to make sacrifices in the present for a better future — but that cycle repeats itself — even when you get to the future you aimed at.
Three quotes help me reconcile putting in the work and not only being OK with it, but celebrating it:
- “Make friends with pain and you will never be alone.” — Ken Chlouber
- “Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.” Steve Prefontaine
- “Nobody cares, work harder.” — Cameron Hanes
5. The Gift Of Youth Is To Exploit
You aren’t getting your youth back. These are hours you can be using to build your skills and improve as a person, or pursue things that matter based on your value system. You won’t get this time back. Don’t squander it.
This is also the easiest your body will ever recover. I run almost every day and rarely stretch. (Not condoning or praising this). How long can I keep that up? Probably not until 79.
The body, mind, soul, and spirit are capable of more than you think. Test these limits now while you can.
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” — Socrates
6. It’s A Luxury To Be Anxious, Others Fight To Survive
2017 was a year riddled with natural disasters. The middle east is plagued with war. Latin America, where my family is from and I’ve traveled to many times, is politically corrupt and impoverished.
The United States? We have WiFi just about everywhere we go. Our anxieties are often a result of these luxuries. We don’t have any physical reasons to struggle, so our fight or flight mechanisms work against us in the simple moments of our days.
Take the time to care for yourself, but always keep perspective of the blessings and safety we are afforded in this country. Finding an outlet to push yourself can summon up the need for a fight or flight struggle that we don’t usually get in everyday life.
7. Have A Book Nearby Everywhere You Go
You can read everywhere you are. Being stuck somewhere is an excuse to read. Read at the car shop. Read at the airport. Read on your lunch break.
You don’t literally have to have a book in hand at all times — though that wouldn’t hurt — but at least have a few in the car, backpacks, and available where you are.
8. Don’t Let The Negativity Of Others Infect You
In Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power he warns to “avoid the unhappy and unlucky.”
Sounds harsh, but you’re a culmination of what you consume, who you surround yourself with, and what ideas your mind holds onto based on these factors.
The mind is as malleable as it is fragile. Choose wisely.
9. Never Leave A Job Undone
Could have written for ten more minutes? Could have run one more mile? Left the office before completing tasks you needed to get done that day?
Never leave a job undone. You don’t know when your last job will be. And it just doesn’t feel good to know you didn’t do your best.
10. Don’t Complain, It’s A Bad Strategy
It never helps and no one cares. Our thought patterns are habits, too, and getting used to complaining isn’t a good strategy. It’ll snowball into inaction long before you know it.
11. Discipline Equals Freedom
This phrase is popular thanks to Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL who led troops in the battle of Ramadi during the Iraq War. The advice is counter-intuitive. Why would more rules make us more free?
We don’t live in a culture that encourages self-control, but it’s a gift that is always at your disposal. Got a raise? Cool, more reason to be thrifty and financially responsible. You’re in better shape? Cool, more reason to stick to that diet and workout harder.
Stoic philosophers believed that everything was an opportunity to practice a virtue. Even success is an opportunity to be virtuous. Always aiming to be at our best means we’ll have room to breathe when things go array. If we’re always financially responsible, eat well, and take care of ourselves, we have more freedom to have a cheat day or be out of harm’s way if we get injured, sick, or lose our jobs.
I don’t think it’s impressive to succeed. I think it’s impressive to keep an even-keel and only become more kind, more gracious, more generous, and better at what we do as we succeed.
And according to John Boyd, having no needs is what makes a man truly free.
“The most important thing in life is to be free to do things. There are only two ways to insure that freedom — you can be rich or you can reduce your needs to zero.” — John Boyd
12. Resentment Always Loses
We started off the post mentioning that life is suffering. The common solution to that is to be resentful. It’s easy to be angry at life itself when things don’t go our way, which they often won’t. But resentment loses 10/10 times.
Don’t choose it. Just like complaining, it will snowball into an unwanted habit that affects how you make decisions. A poor attitude is hard to cure, and it will only work against you.
13. You Don’t Have To Have An Opinion
You don’t have to have an opinion on everything. Be OK with not knowing.
There’s nothing wrong with what we each choose to entertain ourselves with, but trying to keep up with every current event, trend, or new piece of media is exhausting and distracting from your own life. Consume what you like and be OK with not knowing things.
*Yes, of course participate in the democracy you’re afforded in the United States. But be truly informed. Read history books. Check every source. Learn how media operates and what drives its sales.
14. What’s the Return On Investment (ROI) On What You Do? (Especially Social Media Use)
I think we often fail to realize the lost productivity in many of the ways we spend our time. It isn’t viable to be a productive workhorse every second of our lives, but are many of the ways we spend our time worth the results?
Do our television and social media habits pay our rent? Do they actually relax us after a long week? Are they not keeping us from more fulfilling hobbies and time spent with those we love?
There’s little return on investment with many of these activities. Spend your time on things that add value to your life and build you up.
15. It’s Never Too Early To Get Your Act Together
In the United States we are granted the luxury of delaying adulthood and getting away with it relatively unscathed. We marry late, go back to school late, and often wait as long as we can to fix our bad habits.
It’s never too soon to start taking things seriously. Like the Chinese proverb says, the best time to do something was between yesterday and tomorrow. What are you waiting for?
16. Everything Is Better Than Zero
This phrase is from business and social media icon Gary Vaynerchuk.
He points at the fact that doing anything is always better than doing nothing. You might feel like a failure for only running one mile instead of ten, but one mile is closer to ten than zero.
At least do something.
17. Enjoy Your Work To Enjoy Your Life
Work takes us away from our family, friends, and it’s often tiring. If you don’t like what you’re doing every day, you’ll have trouble finding motivation and joy.
Work is an integral part of life. No one escapes it. Just as each animal in the ecosystem has their role, humans do, too. Find a job you enjoy and care to grow at and the quality of your life will increase.
Remember, we’re all in this together. As tough as a job can be, it serves the whole ecosystem of life. It serves the greater good that we’re a part of. Failing to do our part is not good for the greater good. Marcus Aurelius says, “That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.”
If you don’t like what you’re doing every day, do the soul-searching needed to find a job that fits your skills and value system. Don’t be halfway in about solving something as crucial and time-consuming in your life — work.
18. Right Now Is The Good Time You’ll Be Looking Back On
Don’t waste this time. You don’t get it back.
Take advantage. Capitalize.
19. Get A Small Win Every Day
Do something that challenges you. Something that tests you. Something that makes you feel like you won the day.
Your one win will lead to many more wins. It will give you the courage and you’ll know you succeeded that day.
20. Stop Caring About The Finish Line, You’ll Get There
You’ll get to the end of the road, don’t worry.
You can’t expedite the process with stress. So chill out and enjoy your life. Besides, anyone will trade age for youth.
21. Imitate The People You Want To Be Like
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Find people you admire and want to be like and just copy them. Do what they do.
22. What Does Your Ideal Day Look Like?
If you’ve never sat down and figured out what a perfect day looks like to you — including work (that you like to do, hopefully) — then how can you plan your life accordingly?
Once you know what the perfect day is, you can do things to get yourself there. You can build your days based on that framework.
23. Keep Your Own Scorecard
Don’t compare yourself to others or care how they judge you. It’s unfair to you and them for many reasons, but it’s also often a poor way to analyze, because we usually choose to compare one aspect of each person’s life.
Yes, you may not be as successful as your idol in your craft, but you don’t see the rest of their lives. You don’t see the chaos and what might be wrong. And you aren’t examining on an equal playing field. Others may be ahead or behind you.
The only reason to compare anyways is if you’re feeling good or down about yourself. That’s your ego. Just do your best each day and count your efforts against your scorecard and what you know you’re capable of. Then, you’ll get to where you need to go, because you’ll never be any better than your own best.
24. Planes Are The Best Place To Read
You’re stuck in a metal tube for hours and probably don’t have WiFi (or hopefully didn’t buy it). You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re able to get sucked into a book without losing concentration.
25. Food Isn’t As Good As Exercise is Hard
It’s not worth the trade. Running five miles isn’t as easy as it was to eat those 500 calories.
26. You Don’t Get An Award For Doing the Right Thing
Once you start changing bad habits, being more productive and being a better member of society, you might find yourself sitting around waiting for applause or a pat on the back. You’ll quickly realize that no audience is around. People are likely indifferent, or worse, turned off by you and your ideas.
Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Don’t expect an award or acknowledgement.
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius
Bonus Life Lessons
Because, what’s it hurt to add more?
27. Conquer The Need To Conquer The World
In Steven Pressfield’s work of historical fiction, The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great, he writes a scene where Alexander reaches a river crossing. The great warrior hero is met by a philosopher who will not move out of his way so that he can cross the river.
One of the men with Alexander, agitated that the philosopher will not move out of the way, yells at him. “This man has conquered the world, what have you done?” The philosopher, Diogenes, responds, “I have conquered the need to conquer the world.”
Why do we feel the need to reach the heights of financial success? Or success with any material thing? Or care so much about our status in society? These are fleeting, and long after we’re gone they won’t be remembered. You’ll be free when you conquer the need to conquer the world.
“Everything is banal in experience, fleeting in duration, sordid in content; in all respects the same today as generations now dead and buried have found it to be.” — Marcus Aurelius
28. Pick Dead Role Models Because They’ll Never Let You Down
If there’s anything we learned in 2017, it’s that everyone is corruptible. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, because humans are fallible. They’ll let you down.
Dead role models and influences are better than alive ones because they’ve already lived out their lives. They can’t add to the hiccups they’ve committed. Whatever they did wrong, or didn’t do, has already happened. Oftentimes these people are better examples than those in the modern world, anyway.
29. You’re A Node In A Network
What you do actually matters. It likely has dire consequences. This might not be evident on a daily basis. It might be easy to assume that we have no impact and we’re just small humans in the sea of existence.
But this isn’t true, especially with social media. The idea from clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson breaks down like this. Over the course of our lives we’ll know at least 1,000 people and they’ll know at least 1,000 people. That means we’re one person away from a million and two people away from a billion.
We’re at the center of a network. And we’re a node in this network. This is how Peterson says we’re connected and how our decisions have a ripple effect, even the ones we don’t make end up mattering. We have a much greater impact than we realize.
This leaves us with great implications on how we act and what types of lives we lead. Are we uplifting and influencing the people in our network for the common good? Because we will never know how our lives trickle out towards those that we know and what consequences came because of it.
30. Be A Strategist
Don’t aimlessly run into situations. Don’t assume things will ‘just work out.’ Don’t have blind faith.
We don’t teach people how to think very well, and it’s very important to do so. Learn how to plan for yourself. Learn how to think. Learn how to strategize.
31. Work Hard When Things Are Going Well
The test of life isn’t to work hard when things are going bad. When our backs are against the wall, most of us are equipped with a sufficient enough survival instinct to fight our damnedest. We don’t have any other choice.
But how do we respond to life when everything is calm and going well? Do we have the same tenacity to get after it and work hard? The real challenge is to maintain our tenacity during smooth sailing.
This is a sort of risk mitigation strategy. The same that I mentioned above in the ‘Discipline Equals Freedom’ section. The habits we cultivate and the lifestyle we live are the foundation we’re preparing for tougher days, for the harsh storms. They’re the tools we’ll use during a harsh winter, or a difficult time in our lives.
Whether you’re religious or not, Jesus tells a useful parable about this in the book of Matthew. The parable is about following after Jesus, but it’s applicable to the foundations we build in our lives. He says:
“Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.” — Matthew 7:24–27
The foundation we use to build our house is how we will get through tough times. How we live our lives isn’t just about the immediate or building a future we like, but it’s how we will be able to weather the harsh realities that will come our way.
Think of your foundation as a ship that knows it will eventually have to leave harbor and sail through bad water. It must be built as strong as possible to survive the tumultuous waves, and even come out the other end hopeful.
32. To Be Or To Do
As I enter 26 I’ll leave you, and myself, with this.
John Boyd is one of the greatest fighter pilots and military strategists to every live. He influenced not only how the Air Force fights wars, but how ground Marines and other branches of the military fight. He isn’t well known, and he didn’t move up in rank like you’d imagine a fighter pilot and intellectual juggernaut would.
He was unwilling to bend his morals and principles to move up in rank and please the bureaucracy of the government and Air Force of the time. He would give this speech to young people he met who he found promising. The main idea of the speech is that we each come to a fork in the road. This fork is a place in our lives where we are forced with choosing to either be someone, or to do something.
Now, these two choices mean different things for everyone. But ‘being someone’ usually means compromising who we are and turning our backs on those we care about. ‘Doing something’ means standing up for what is right for ourselves and others, even if it costs us. We all come to this fork in the road. And it comes as we enter adulthood. So, what will we choose? To be or to do?
Here’s Boyd’s speech:
“Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.
He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.”
Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed in another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something-something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.
To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?” ― John Boyd
Quotes I Live By
- “At dawn when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: I have to go to work as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” — Marcus Aurelius
- “If it’s endurable, then endure it. Stop complaining.” — Marcus Aurelius
- “The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way.” — Marcus Aurelius
- “Don’t let fatigue make a coward of you.” — Steve Prefontaine
- “Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.” — Ken Chlouber
- “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!” — Friedrich Nietzsche
- “The strength of a person’s spirit would then be measured by how much ‘truth’ he could tolerate, or more precisely, to what extent he needs to have it diluted, disguised, sweetened, muted, falsified.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
- “I don’t believe in a no-win scenario.” — Captain Kirk, Star Trek
- “Not long ago, an English writer telephoned me, asking questions. One was, “What’s your alma mater?” I told him, ‘Books.’” — Malcolm X
- “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
- “We have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is the law of our existence; and we must acquiesce.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found.” — Kurt Vonnegut
- “The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who have loved it.” — George Santayana
- “Pleasure consumes us, work strengthens us. Let us choose.” — Charles Baudelaire
- “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” — Epictetus
- “Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.” — Cyril Connolly
- “He who knows most, knows how little he knows.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “You have only to doze for a moment, and all is lost. For ruin and salvation both have their source inside you.” — Epictetus
- “Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.” — Theodore Roethke
- “Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.” — Abraham Lincoln
- “That which isn’t good for the hive, isn’t good for the bee.” — Marcus Aurelius
- “It is the strong in body who are both the strong and free in mind.” — Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson
- “The smallest good act today is the strategic point from which, months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.” — C.S. Lewis
- “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” — Viktor E. Frankl
- “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17
- “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” — Luke 12:25
- “You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.” — Seneca
- “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” — John Wooden
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor E. Frankl
- “Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.” — Epictetus
- “Professionals are people who can do their best work when they don’t feel like it.” — Alistair Cooke
- “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” — Epictetus
- “Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.” — Austin Kleon
- “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” — Matthew 6:27
- “Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy.” — Seneca
- “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” — F.M. Alexander
- “You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” — Paul Kalanithi
- “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.” — Viktor E. Frankl
- “The finest of all human struggles is against what we are and for what we should become.” — George (Youra) Livchitz
- “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” — Marcus Aurelius
- “The manifesto of the dealmaker is simple: Reality is negotiable.” — Tim Ferriss
- “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” — Seneca
- “The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” — Seneca
- “The key to building endurance: Push on when you feel you can’t, and next time that moment will come later.” — Sam Sheridan
- “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” — Sigmund Freud
- “In the long run, success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” — Viktor E. Frankl
- “Aequam memento rebus in arduis servare mentem.” Or “In adversity, remember to keep an even mind.” — Horace
- “He who indulges empty fears earns himself real fears.” — Seneca
- “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” — C.S. Lewis
- “I am convinced our own happiness requires that we should continue to mix with the world, and to keep pace with it as it goes.” — Thomas Jefferson
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E. Frankl
- “It is true, however, that no bull reaches maturity in an instant, nor do men become heroes overnight. We must endure a winter training, and can’t be dashing into situations for which we aren’t yet prepared.” — Epictetus
- “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” — Stephen King
- “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” — Newt Gingrich
- “If you need rest, go to sleep earlier. You don’t sleep in, and you don’t miss workouts. Even if you can’t perform at a high-level, showing up and doing something is still a thousand times better than not showing up at all.” — Jocko Willink
- “Oh, how blessed young men are who have to struggle for a foundation and beginning in life. I shall never cease to be grateful for the three and half years of apprenticeship and the difficulties to be overcome, all along the way.” — John D. Rockefeller
- “Do not live as if you still have ten thousand years left. Your fate hangs over you. While you are still living, while you still exist on this earth, strive to become a genuinely good man.” — Marcus Aurelius
- “Happiness is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to deal with it.” — Anonymous
Remember, someone had your problem first, and they probably wrote down how to get through it. There is no greater teacher than books. Here’s a list that of books that taught me immensely throughout my 25th year:
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Meditations — Marcus Aurelius
- Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus
- Letters to a Stoic by Seneca
- On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
- The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram
- TheObstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
- Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu** by Mark Manson
- Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson M.D.
- Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden with Steve Jamison
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
- Peaks and Valleys by Spencer Johnson M.D.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Linchpin by Seth Godin
- Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe The World by William H. McRaven
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
- The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro
- Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss