As an unshakable optimist, Simon Sinek has many ideas about how we, as a society, can build a brighter future together.
Those ideas have inspired him to do many things. For starters, he's written books — a lot of them. His best-sellers include "Start With Why" (Tony Robbin's staple book for when he needs inspiration), "Leaders Eat Last," "Together is Better" and "Find Your Why." Sinek's new book, "The Infinite Game," will be released in June 2019. And his 2009 TED Talk about how great leaders inspire action rose to become the third most-watched talk of all time on TED.com.
Sinek says he wouldn't have been inspired to do any of those things if it weren't for books. There are two in particular that he calls life-changing: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and "Finite and Infinite Games" by James Carse.
In his own words, Sinek explains why:
In "Man's Search for Meaning," Viktor Frankl chronicles his experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. I have loved this book for so many years, and I think every human being should read it.
Among the book's many lessons, Frankl reminds us the importance of mindset as we make our way through life. We cannot control the world around us, but we can control our attitude. Whether a situation is good or bad simply depends on how we see it. Before reading "Man's Search for Meaning," it was so easy for me to take on a victim's narrative whenever things in my life went badly. And with that unhealthy narrative in my head, I could easily find all the evidence around me to prove I was right. This only reinforced a negative mindset.
With Frankl's book, I learned to reverse that. I learned I can control how I feel regardless of what happens around me. I can choose to be positive. And the best part is, with a new positive mindset, I was able to find all the evidence around me to reinforce that I was on the right path.
James Carse's "Finite and Infinite Games" was given to me by my friend Brian Collins five or six years ago as a gift. The book forced me to see that the world works in a very different way than I thought it did. When we go to school, when we get a job we think we need to "win" at everything we do.
The truth is, an obsession with winning in every situation before understanding which game we are playing can actually increase our stress and do damage to our ability succeed over time. I am an idealist who lives in the real world. My whole life people have called me and my ideas naïve, for example. "Finite and Infinite Games" helped me see that I'm not naïve or stupid, I have an infinite mindset in a world filled with finite players. That book gave me even more confidence to pursue my vision of a world in which the vast majority of us can feel inspired, safe and fulfilled every day of our lives.
Carse's book inspired me so much, I ended up writing my own book about how to lead in an infinite game.
Both of these books are so important because they taught me about the power of perspective. Almost all of the events that take place in our careers and relationships are significantly impacted — both positively and negatively — depending on our perception of the situation. Learning to shift our mindset of how we see the world can make the ultimate difference between joy and frustration, or success and struggle.
Simon Sinek is an unshakable optimist who teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. He is the author of multiple best-selling books, including "Start With Why," "Leaders Eat Last," "Together is Better" and "Find Your Why." His new book, "The Infinite Game," will be released in June 2019. Follow him on Twitter @simonsinek.
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